Sunday, February 4, 2018

David James - Mayor of Kapunda: 1888-89 & 1900-05

David James

Mayor of Kapunda: 1888-1889 & 1900-1905

David James was born at Nantyglo, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales in 1854. He spent his formative years working in local mines in Wales, alongside his father.
 His Father passed away, and David became the head of the household. He decided to move the family to Australia. Along with his Mother and brothers and sisters, they emigrated, sailing on the ship Lochee to Port Adelaide, and settled in Kapunda where David now worked at fencing and well sinking.
 Along with six other men, David became a foundation member of The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, or as we know it today B.H.P.

 It would seem David was on a winning streak. His horse stud soon began to breed champions. In 1895, his horse Auraria, at odds of 50/1, won the Melbourne Cup!

Auraria - winnings -

David married Emily Davis, a servant girl, also from Abergavenny. The pair married at Semaphore in 1883.

 David found himself working at Mount Gipps sheep-station in western New South Wales and became convinced by a work colleague to take up a mineral claim on the land there. David was the first to drive a peg into the ground, of what would be the richest lead-silver-zinc find in the world and would later become known as Broken Hill.

Now a wealthy businessman, he returned to Kapunda and was soon elected local Mayor. As he was so well off, the small wage entitled to him as Mayor, he donated to local charities.
 David soon bought a large estate and established a horse stud. His property he named after the small mining village he lived at back in Wales, Coalbrook Vale.

David political aspirations amplified, and in 1902, he was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly, representing the district of Wooroora. He spent 16 years as a Member of Parliament and was instrumental in affecting pastoral and agricultural reforms in Australia.

David continued trading with BHP, but eventually sold off his entire interest in the company. His wife Emily passed away in 1925, and David went on to marry local Kapunda lady, Ada Mullen.

David James passed away in Ru Rua Hospital, Adelaide on the 21st of July 1926 after a long battle with diabetes.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2018


1926 'DEATH OF MR. DAVID JAMES.', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 24 July, p. 48. , viewed 26 Jan 2018,

Broken Hill 1883-1893 Discovery and Development. R.H.B. Kearns, Reprinted August, 1977, Broken Hill Historical Society.

Daytrippa, 2017, David James, Made By Them Advertising, viewed 26 Jan 2018,

R. H. B. Kearns, 'James, David (1854–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983

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