William Christie Gosse and family

Dr Gosse and Family

WC Gosse (SLSA)

William Christie Gosse, born at Hoddesdon, England, on 11 December 1842, was the son of Dr William Gosse (1812-1883) and Agnes Grant (1811-1891). In 1850 the Gosse family with their six children, left England for South Australia, on the barque Elizabeth where they arrived in December. Once there the family found accommodation in Hindley Street where the doctor set up practice. When gold was discovered in Victoria, Dr William Gosse went to have a look as well and was there to help Alexander Tolmer collecting the gold for the first Gold Escort back to Adelaide. He was later elected to the Board of the Adelaide Hospital and campaigned hard for the immunisation of young children. In 1855 he was Medical Officer responsible for the Adelaide Servants Depot.

On 4 January 1870 Dr Gosse, his wife and eldest daughter Agnes returned for a ten month visit to England and Europe on the Yatala. The night before his departure Dr Gosse was given a dinner by some thirty medical gentlemen. At the dinner he explained that the trip would not be merely one of pleasure. He would seek opportunities of falling in with the eminent men in the profession at home and would be a frequent visitor at the hospitals and Schools of Medicine. In fact, he said, he would again become a student. Dr Gosse was also one of the first to promise Julia Farr 50 pounds to start her Home for the Incurables.

GC Hawker (SLSA)

Dr Gosse did very well in South Australia. He assisted JL Young in founding the Adelaide Philosophiocal Society and in 1874 became the first Warden to the Senate of the University of Adelaide. Most of his six children also did well. Their eldest daughter Agnes married the Hon. Alexander Hay of Linden at Beaumont and Mount Breckan at Victor Harbor while their second daughter Mary married Alexander Melville. Charles followed in his father's footsteps and also became a doctor and later married Mary, daughter of the Hon. G.C. Hawker.

Charles was born on 26 December 1849 and educated at JL Young's school before returning to England to complete his studies. In 1872 he passed his Master of Surgery at Aberdeen. This was followed three years later by the full degree of Doctor of Medicine. On 26 May 1876 he was appointed, on the resignation of his father, to the position of Honorary Medical Officer of the Adelaide Hospital.

His brother David married Emily Fenn whereas Henry, (Harry), married Elizabeth Clark. William Christie Gosse, was educated at John Lorenzo Young's Adelaide Educational Institute on North Terrace. This was the same establishment where Charles Cameron Kingston was educated and several other young South Australians who would later become well known. In 1859 he joined the Government Survey Office. William and his brother Harry, later both worked on the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line.

On 1 November 1865 William was appointed surveyor and at the age of thirty he appointed by the South Australian Government to open up a route from Central Australia to Perth. In December 1868 he married Gertrude Ritchie (1847-1869) daughter of W.H. Ritchie of Melbourne. She died six months later at Robe after suffering from an attack of jaundice.

George Woodroffe Goyder sent William in 1873 to the Northern Territory. His task was to map a route from the just completed Overland Telegraph Line at Alice Springs to Perth. The point of departure would be the Finke River after they had collected some of their equipment at Beltana Station. From Beltana they made their way to Stuart (Alice Springs). On 23 April Gosse, his brother Henry, Edwin Barry, Henry Winnell and Patrick Niter together with three Afghans, Kamran, Jemma Kahn and Allanah and an Aborigine, Moses, left Stuart and followed the telegraph line to Charlotte Waters where they turned west for Western Australia.

Although unsuccessful, William discovered and named Ayers Rock. He climbed the rock together with Kamran and wrote, This is certainly the most wonderful natural feature I have ever seen. What a grant sight this must be in the wet season. A little later the Register newspaper wrote that it would become famous as one of the most singular and prominent of Australian landmarks.

William Gosse also named Agnes River, Harry's Reservoir and Mount Hay in the MacDonnell Ranges. His report about the Aboriginal Tribes of Central Australia and other earlier reports from John MacDouall Stuart and Ernest Giles led Pastor G.J. Rechner and Carl Schmidt to approach Goyder in 1874 about the possibility of acquiring land for the establishment of the Hermannsburg Aboriginal Mission. In 1875 William Gosse became Deputy Surveyor General. His brother Harry, who had discovered Lake Amadeus, later perished on Delamere Station.

William married twice. His first wife, Gertrude Ritchie (1847-1869) on 8 November 1868 and Agnes (Aggie) Hay (1854-1933) on 22 December 1874. Aggie Hay was the daughter of Alexander Hay (1820-1898) and his first wife Agnes Kelly (1818-1870).


William Christie Gosse died on 12 August 1881 at the young age of only 38 leaving a wife of 27 with three young children William born in 1875, James in 1876 and Edith Agnes in 1878. He was buried at the North Road Cemetery. There were no children from William and Gertrude's marriage.


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