Stock family

One of the stories from the 2012 project: Who were they? People who shaped Victor Harbor and for whom our parks and reserves are named.

Stock Reserve

Stock Reserve is a patch of bushland between the ends of Ozone Street and Hillview Road, Victor Harbor.

The Stock story begins in Clifton, Gloucestershire, England. John Stock had a son Robert who was recorded in the 1841 Census as a Cupper! You may well ask, “What is the strange occupation of Cupper?” He was a surgeon!

Robert Stock first married Mary Ann Johns; they had four children, one of whom died as an infant. He then married Caroline Holland in January 1844 and they had Emma Blanche (1844), Robert Alfred (1846), William Frederick (1847).

Sadly, Robert Stock died in about 1847 at Clifton, Gloucestershire. He left his young wife with three of her own children and stepdaughters Florence 1837 and Rosalie 1838. Henry Johns from her first marriage seems to have come to South Australia at a later date.

New beginnings

The courageous Caroline (nee Holland) Stock decided to make the long sea voyage to the colony of South Australia with the five young children. They departed from London on the 1st November 1849 aboard the Statesman, and sailed via Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia arriving on the 12th February 1850.

Did she have family or friends to support her? Further research might answer this question.

All five children survived and much later

  • Florence married Edwin Thomas Smith.
  • Rosalie married Talbot Baines Bruce.
  • Emma Blanche married William Aird.
  • Robert Alfred married firstly, Elizabeth Mary “Bessie” Lewis and secondly, Violet Cobb nee Morphett.
  • William Frederick first married Clara Graham and second, Mary Haig nee Spicer.

In 1851 Caroline Stock married William Mathews Sandford a successful lawyer. They had three daughters.

Robert Alfred Stock

Robert Alfred Stock (1846–1904) had emigrated as a three-year-old with his mother, Caroline. At seven years of age he was taken back to England and educated at Bluecoat School until his fifteenth year. His education was completed at Weston, near Bristol, where he subsequently went into the wine and spirits business. He gained experience at two leading firms in Bristol.

On his return to Adelaide he began working at the English, Scottish & Australian Chartered Bank. Sometime later he joined Sir Edwin T Smith (his sister Florence’s husband) at the Kent Town Brewery where he became manager and director on the retirement of Sir Edwin. (Ref “From Whence we Inherit” by Joan M Jenkins). Robert Alfred Stock, Managing Director of the South Australian Brewing Co. died at home at Mt Lofty after about two months’ illness aged 58 years.

Alfred Douglas Stock

The eldest son of Robert Alfred Stock and Elizabeth “Bessie” Lewis was Alfred Douglas Stock, known as Douglas (1870-1913). He married Ruby Emmeline Humberstone in 1906. A year later their first child Bessie was born in Victor Harbor and twelve months after that they purchased the Guest House Summerlea in Coral Street, where Douglas ran a coaching and livery stable business. The horse stables and coach sheds were on the corner of Coral and McKinlay Streets, adjacent to the guest house.

Before his marriage Douglas is reported taking part in an unsuccessful gold-seeking expedition with his Uncle, William F Stock, and enlisting and serving with the Second Light Horse Brigade in the Boer War where he was in the same mounted regiment as “Breaker” Morant.

The following reports and his obituary describe some of his achievements during his forty three years.
The Advertiser on Wednesday 14 March 1894.

The party is under the management of Mr. William Frederick Stock, and he is accompanied by his nephew Mr. Douglas Stock, and Mr. Earle, who has had considerable experience in mining matters. At Oodnadatta they will be met by Mr. James Lamb, an experienced Queensland bushman, and two or three West Australian black-boys who have just returned with Mr H Y L Brown, the Government geologist, from the district proposed to be visited. From the northern terminus they will strike a course west by south some hundreds of miles, till they reach the border of the western colony. Thence they make their way to the Cavanagh Ranges, Mounts Rawlinson, Butterfield, and Destruction, and many others in a region thought by Mr. E Giles who noted the country well when on his exploring trip in 1876, to be worth examination. They will take with them about 15 camels and will be provisioned for eight or nine months. Should they strike anything really good a portion of the party will be left on the spot, while the rest of the party will journey about two hundred miles across to either Oodnadatta or Murchison, by whichever route water will be most easily obtainable.

The West Australian Thursday 22 March 1894.

Mr. William F. Stock, the well-known solicitor and ex-member for Sturt, has thrown aside briefs and clients for a period and has started Westward Ho! Unlike the majority of those who have gone to try their fortunes in the west, Mr. Stock has decided to proceed by a route that will necessarily be accompanied with considerable privation. (The venture was unsuccessful and the death of one of the party members Mr Drew Williams who died after falling from his camel was reported in The Advertiser, on Wednesday 3 June 1903.)

The Advertiser Friday 26 January 1900.

2nd South Australian Mounted Rifles, Australian Light Horse Brigade
The whole of Thursday was occupied by the officers and men of the Mounted Contingent in making the final arrangements for leaving by the steamer Surrey for South Africa to-day. Among the large number was Non-Commissioned Officer Corporal Harry Harbord Morant and Trooper, Alfred Douglas Stock.

The Advertiser, Tuesday 5 August 1913.

After a very short illness, Mr. Alfred Douglas Stock, who was one of the best known residents of the Victor Harbor district died on Sunday. The deceased was the eldest son of the late Mr Robert Alfred Stock who was Mr William Frederick Stock’s brother, and for many years was in the bush, mostly in Queensland.

On his return to this State he became one of Mr W F Stock’s party, who went upon an expedition, striking north-west from Oodnadatta. Subsequently, he went to Western Australia, and was engaged in mercantile pursuits for some time. When he came back to Adelaide he settled at Victor Harbor. He was exceedingly fond of horses, and he established himself in the coaching business.

Mr. Stock married a daughter of the late Mr. Humberstone. For many years he had been associated with Ruby, his wife in the management of “Summerlea”, one of the most popular boarding-houses at the seaside town. Mrs. Stock and four little children are left.

Mrs. Stock and her daughter had been spending a holiday in Adelaide, and Mr. Stock drove down a week ago to take them back. While in the city he caught a severe cold, which resulted in his death.

The Register Tuesday 5 August 1913.

The death occurred at McLaren Vale on Sunday of Mr. Alfred Douglas Stock, eldest son of the late Mr R A Stock (for many years managing director of the South Australian Brewing Company), and a nephew of Mr. W.F. Stock, solicitor. The deceased, who led a vigorous outdoor life, spent his earlier years in sheep farming and horse and cattle-ranching in the north of Queensland. He then went to Coolgardie, and entered into business as a cordial drink manufacturer, and later, with a companion, he returned and traveled to Oodnadatta across the desert, a journey in which the intrepid men suffered many privations.

He was a member of the second South Australian Contingent dispatched to the South African war, and distinguished himself in several engagements. Mr. Stock passed the closing years of his life at Victor Harbour, where he carried on a livery stable business.

He married Miss Ruby Humberstone, formerly of the Grosvenor Hotel, who, together with a young family, survives.
Our Victor Harbour correspondent wrote: on Monday Mr. Stock had been spending a few days in the city, and was on his way home when he took ill, and it was deemed advisable that he should stay at the residence of his brother at McLaren Vale. Despite every attention possible by the medical men in attendance, he passed away on Sunday, morning, after a very short illness. Mr. Stock was well-known about this district, and was much respected. He was contractor for the mail service between Victor Harbour and Yankalilla, and proprietor of a livery stable here. He was exceptionally fond of horses, and was an expert rider and driver. He was a keen sportsman, and was nearly always present at the football matches here; having been a staunch supporter of the blue-and-whites. The golf club will lose a valuable member, while the dance clubs will also miss him from their midst.

Great sympathy is felt for the widow and little children. The remains were interred in the local cemetery today, and the service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev G C Wood, of Strathalbyn.

The children of Alfred “Douglas” Stock and Ruby Emmeline Humberstone were
1. Bessie Emmeline Stock (1907-1932), the first Stock to be born in Victor Harbor, who died as a result of a fall while riding her horse, Seamander at the Royal Adelaide Show. (See also Bessie Stock; her life & memorial)
2. Robert Douglas (Bob) Stock who married Beatrice Ruth “Teen” Provis.
3. Gerald Douglas (Gerry) Stock who married Mary Kathleen Henderson.
4. Frank Kenelm (Ken) Stock who died aged 25 years.

Descendants of Bob and Gerry Stock still live and work in the district.


  • Settlers Around The Bay, Anthony Laube
  • Victor Harbor: From Pioneer Port to Seaside Resort, Michael Page
  • Trove digital newspapers
  • Digger database