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Gasworks Hotel

Chief-street, Brompton

Elisha Rundle & Josephine M. B. Rundle


Licensed Dealers in Wines and Spirits

Licensed Dealers in Colonial Wines


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History > William Hurcombe, Amelia Hurcombe




William HURCOMBE was, from March 1862 to March 1863, the publican of the Brickmakers’ Arms (later known as the Gasworks Hotel), Brompton, Adelaide, South Australia.


During his brief stint at the hotel, he hosted a ball in June 1862 and a cricketers’ dinner in August 1862. But he was in financial troubles by October, resulting in transfer of the Brickmakers’ Arms licence to Robert Laundy INGHAM. Hurcombe turned his hand to making his “celebrated” ant poison using arsenic and diluted treacle, selling it through an agent in Weymouth-street.


In 1873, cellarman Hurcombe was charged with failing to support his wife Amelia and five children. Then the following year, rat poisoner Hurcombe was sentenced to ten days gaol for failing to provide the court directed support. After that William Hurcombe disappeared. What happened to him?


In December 1874, the enterprising Amelia HURCOMBE placed the following advertisement:


MRS. HURCOMBE desires to inform her Friends and the Public that her Husband having left the Colony she is the only person of that name in Adelaide who manufactures HURCOMBE'S CELEBRATED RAT and MOUSE POISON, also HURCOMBE'S well-known ANT and FLY MIXTURE. Orders promptly executed. Hindley-street west, near Simms & Chapman's Brewery.


In 1878, after a child accidentally died from her ant poison, Amelia was charged with allowing the sale of poison by her son Alfred, but was only fined a nominal amount.


I am researching William Hurcombe and the other early publicans for a fully expanded and rewritten 2016 edition of Deaths at Josephine's Gasworks Hotel. It took a lot of detective work to find out this family’s origins (and destinations). Please contact me if you want to know when the book will be available or if you are also researching this family, especially if you have any BDM certificates. Certificates already sighted are noted with * below. An incomplete and unconfirmed record of the family group follows. So please don't take it on trust!


William HURCOMBE, b. 1831

+ Caroline BLOODWORTH / Charlotte, b.c. 1824, d.* 1860 Adelaide age 36. Issue?

|-- first son ? HURCOMBE

\-- Lt.Col. Frederick William HURCOMBE, b. see below *** Adelaide, d. 1945 age 86

    + Eva Victoria Alice BIRKINSHAW / BIRKENSHAW, m. 1885 Norwood, d. 1920 ...

+ Amelia BLOODWORTH, b.c. 1839, m. 1860 Adelaide, d. 1914 Unley.

|-- Caroline Jessie HURCOMBE / Jessie Caroline HURCOMBE, b.1863 Adelaide, artist, d.1944

|-- Alfred Lewis HURCOMBE / Alfred Lois HURCOMBE, b. 1866 Adelaide, d. 1915, NI.

|-- Christina Marion HURCOMBE, b. 1868 Hindmarsh, d. 1870 Adelaide. NI.

|-- Hector James HURCOMBE, b. 1871 Adelaide

\-- William Arthur HURCOMBE, b. 1873 Adelaide

+ Ellen REDDAN nee Ellen COSTELLO, b.c. 1846, m. 1880 Bathurst NSW. No issue?


*** Born about 1859. Birth record not yet found. Inconsistent ages and birth years in his First World War records (e.g., 16 Aug 187x).


Updated 9 Jun 2016.

© David Coombe, 2015-16.