Robert William Botting:
Patriarch of a New Zealand Botting Family

"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes
and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days”
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill


Compiled by:
Russell Edward (Russ) Botting,
New Zealand.
(G.G.Grandson of Robert William Botting)


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Robert William Botting: The patriarch

Robert William (Bob) Botting was the forbear of a prolific Botting Family in New Zealand whose members have ranked highly for over 140 years in many professions and callings, trades and skills, and in sporting and cultural activities.

The Family has had numerous notable accomplishments not only in services to the nation but also to the benefit of many cities, towns and rural settings throughout the country. It has always been God-fearing and upright, and well respected in business.

Robert William Botting (circa 1870)
Photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia
(SLSA: B 6822)

Born in London in 1818 Robert William (Bob) was the fifth
child of William and Sarah Frances Botting (nee Baker).

His siblings were Thomas b. 1795, Jane b. 1805, William
Thomas b. 1811, Frederick Henry (Fred) b. 1812, and Francis Joseph (Frank) b. 1819.

The call of the Colonies: South Australia

In the 1830’s the children of the family became interested in the opportunities being offered in the colony of South Australia. The Colonial Office in London had determined that South Australia was to be the first non-penal colony in Australia and in the British Empire, and indeed at Glenelg, Adelaide, on 28 December 1836 South Australia was proclaimed a British colony by Governor Hindmarsh.

This was a period in history when Great Britain was suffering from a post-Napoleonic-War financial recession and under-employment in the countryside and towns. The professions were over supplied, middle class men were forced to take inferior jobs, and the working class faced job insecurity, seasonal unemployment and a declining standard of living.

There was the belief these pressures would be relieved by assisting a portion of people to emigrate, thus providing greater opportunities higher wages and improved living standards for the nation, and for the emigrants opportunities of a new life in a new land.

With this as the background, and over the period 1836 – 1846, four of the five children of William and Sarah emigrated on assisted passages to the distant continent of Australia, a journey by sailing ship of three to four months duration.


However one of the family, William Thomas, remained in London. He married Harriett (nee Evans) in 1843 and they had five children: Harriett Olivia, William Benjamin, Richard (Dick), Robert (Bob) and Alice Mary. William and Harriett owned a Soft Goods shop and residence at 52 Baker Street and their sons William and Dick, and daughter Alice, joined their parents in running that business.

Of interest is a letter written much later by the 22 year old Alice to her cousin in Adelaide, Frederick William Botting (son of Frederick Henry). In that

letter dated 30 April 1873 she mentioned the family business at 52 Baker St, London W1, and also commented on her own father’s health and “his joy at having recently received a letter from her ‘Uncle Bob’ (Robert William) in New Zealand”.

It is presumed that the premises at 52 Baker Street were destroyed as a consequence of enemy action in World War II as was the fate of many other properties in the vicinity. Indeed, in correspondence dated 7 October 1976 with a retired staff member of DRUCE & COMPANY (Est.1822), Surveyors, Valuers, Auctioneers & Estate Agents (which during the War occupied the properties 54 - 60 Baker Street) it was confirmed that their premises were destroyed in 1941 but these were rebuilt there after the War. No details of the existing premises at 52 Baker Street are to hand.

Returning to 1836, Robert William was the first of the children of William Thomas and Frances Botting to leave England, sailing from the Port of Deal on the ship ‘The Coromandel’ on 26 September, and arriving at Glenelg, South Australia on 12 January 1837. On his Emigration application he had given his address as 4 Mill Hill Place, Welbeck Street, London, his occupation as “Carpenter and Joiner”, and his age 20 (but it is likely he was only 18 years of age and falsely declared his age to gain passage).

However, Robert William was not the first ‘Botting’ to arrive in South Australia. Indeed, the two brothers Henry Francis and John Botting (sons of Henry and Caroline Botting nee Belton who lived at Henfield Village, West Sussex) arrived at Glenelg on the barque ‘Tam-O-Shanter’ on 30 November 1836 (three weeks before South Australia was proclaimed a British Colony).

Henry Francis Botting was a mason by trade, unmarried, and died in Adelaide on 4 January 1847 aged 61. His younger brother John was a bricklayer and worked and lived in North Adelaide. He married on 23 July 1849 aged 31 and died the same day. Nothing is known of his wife and there were no heirs.

Robert William was followed to South Australia by Jane his sister. She embarked from Gravesend on the ship ‘The John Renwick’ on 18 October 1836 and arrived in the new colony on 10 February 1837. Jane was noted on the passenger list as “Spinster of Sussex” and her occupation as "Servant" (presumably to her brother Robert and likely being the reason claimed in her application to qualify for an assisted passage).

Their brothers Fred and Frank followed on ‘The Buckinghamshire’ leaving England on 11 December 1838. Fred was accompanied by his wife Margaret, and Samuel their 10 year old son. They arrived at Glenelg on 22 March1839. Fred and Frank were also in the carpentry trade.

The last of the family to emigrate was Thomas, a builder and a miner. In 1846 Thomas and his wife Susanah, and their eight children, departed England on ‘The Canton’ and arrived in South Australia on 31 July 1846.

Robert established a small carpentry business in Adelaide and his ability to make perfect window and door frames put him in great demand as both a carpenter and teacher of his trade. When Fred and Frank arrived in 1839 they helped Robert expand the business and together established a Carpentry and Joinery shop on the corner of Currie and Peel Streets. They were then involved in the construction of some of Adelaide’s most prominent buildings which included The Blenheim Hotel and the Bank of Australasia.

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