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Rowland and Helen Elizabeth Hill 
Papers 1875-2006

MSS 0122

Biographical Note

Rowland Hill attended Roseworthy College of Agriculture from 1909. He was a popular and able student and was awarded a scholarship. From 1913-1914 he worked in Menzies' auctioneering and land agency business in Clare. He subsequently worked for the Department of Agriculture, initially as a farm assistant at the government experimental farm at Minnipa, and after his return from World War I, as farm manager and then District Agricultural Advisor until 1940(?). He also worked on the Soldier Settlers Scheme on Kangaroo Island, collaborating with the Waite Institute on soil surveys in the South-East and problems of land development in the Hills District and on Kangaroo Island.

Rowland Hill was a member of the camel corps which was associated with Lawrence of Arabia (see The Cameliers by Oliver Houge, 1919, Rare Books 940.3 H71).

Helen Elizabeth (Bet) Hill was the daughter of Rowland and Zetta Hill. She lived at Minnipa and Gawler during her schooldays, and after school worked in the PMG's Department of Engineering. During WWI Bet worked as a driver with the Transport Division. One of her memorable passengers was the anthropologist, Charles Mountford. Bet's family moved to Westbourne Park when she was about 21 and she resided in the same house for over 60 years. At the age of 40 until retirement, Bet worked at Woodley Wines and did a lot of the background work to get the Queen Adelaide wine up and going - they called her the mid-wife of Queen Adelaide. She died in 2006 aged 89.

These papers were first offered to the State Library of South Australia, and were subsequently donated by Robert McEwin to the Barr Smith Library in November 2008. Robert McEwin's father, Gavin Gardener McEwin, was also a graduate of Roseworthy and a close friend of Rowland Hill, and Elizabeth Hill and Robert's mother went to school together at Gawler. Elizabeth Hill (known as Aunty Bet) was Robert's godmother.


Contents Listing

Series 1: Papers of Rowland Hill

Testimonials by:

  • G.W. Butler of Kapunda for Rowland Hill's application to be a member of the Land Board 1940
  • Arthur J. Perkins of Brighton (former principal of Roseworthy Agricultural College and Director of the SA Dept of Agriculture) to support Rowland Hill's application for a position in the Crown land's Dept 1940
  • Duncan Menzies, barrister of Adelaide and former housemaster at Roseworthy College, 1940
  • J.A. Prescott, Director Waite Agricultural Research Institute, 1940, for Hill's application as a member of the Land Board
  • S. Shepherd, Kybybolite, 1940

Documents relating to Hill residence, 35 Elmo Ave, Westbourne Park, SA

  • 2 rent books for R. Hill, Elmo Ave, Westbourne Park, SA., 1939-47 (with a photograph of Elvie, 11 months) and 1952-53
  • Correspondence 1939 and memorandum of agreements 1943 and 1947 re rent of property

Correspondence from Rowland Hill to Elfrida Hill, 1935, concerning family and financial matters. 2 letters, both with pages missing


Series 2: Papers of Helen Elizabeth Hill

Death notice, and copies of biographical notes used at Elizabeth Hill's funeral, 2006. Includes notes on the history of Woodley's Wines and Bet's involvement with the company

Woodley Wines

  • Brochure: 'A Tour of Historic Glen Osmond' describing Woodley villa, Woodley Wines, Colonial Hall and Woodley Cottage, all part of the original estate of Osmond Gilles
  • Queen Adelaide Consumers Association: printed flyer, 1971 letter inviting Miss H.E. Hill to become an Inner Committee Member, and Certificate of Membership [the QACA was founded at Arkaroola in 1971, the founding document housed on the notice board of the Arkaroola Motel. Members were obliged 'to pay the reverence and respect that is due to Queen Adelaide clarets and Rieslings]
  • Telex messages received on Betty Hill's retirement from Woodley Wines


Series 3: Hill family papers

Marriage certificate between Richard Laycock and Elizabeth Anne Riggs, Adelaide, 1879

Birth certificate for Rowland Hill, son of John and Helen (nee Holroyd) Hill, 1891

Baptismal certificates for:

  • Frederick Osmund Laycock, son of Richard and Elizabeth Laycock, at Gawler South, 1901
  • Helen Elizabeth Hill, Barbara Hill and John Hill, children of Rowland and Zetta Doris Hill at Gawler, 1930

Extract from birth entry for William Hubert Day, Barossa District, 1875

Wedding certificate between William Hubert Day and Annie Genera Allen Laycock, Gawler, 1906

Wedding certificate between William Hubert Day and Irene Ella Gray, East Adelaide in 1925

Letters to Rowand Hill re the estate of his grandfather, Benjamin Holroyd

Will of Zetta Doris Hill

Typescript: Itinerary by boat in the Pubna District (8 p. - incomplete) – no author, July [no year].

[Diary of a journey by houseboat on the Pubna Rivers, accompanying the missionary Miss Arnold who had a compound at Ataikola. Describes the voyage, their interactions with Hindu and 'Mohommedan' people of the villages they passed through]

The diary dates from between 1892, when the missionary Ellen Arnold went to Pabna, where most of the rest of her life was spent preaching and establishing schools and dispensaries mainly in the villages of Bera and Ataikola, and 1913 when she retired from service – see Australian Dictionary of Biography.

5 typed letters from Orakandi, Faridpur District, India ca 190?

[Some letters signed Jane, and addressed to Jennifer. Authorship is uncertain – possibly an aunt of the Hill family who was associated with a widow-girl mission school]

[Monthly letters, describing daily life at the school, the situation of widow-girls in India, activities of the pupils, the birds of the area, including the school pet parrot, the rice fields and boats, the work of the carpenter, individual pupils, the mission house, Christmas at the Mission etc]

Possibly relates to the Orakandi mission started by the Australian Baptist Misionary Dr C.S. Mead in 1906, with an associated Widows Home looked after by Nurse Thomson - see Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India by Śekhara Bandyopādhyāẏa - 1997 p. 56

Photograph (tinted colour) – unidentified girl toddler wearing hat, in garden, possibly of Esme [?] from the Hill family on the mother's side



Cheryl Hoskin
December 2008



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