Naming of Mount Pleasant

There is no definitive answer as to how the name Mount Pleasant came about, however, there is a definite link to the Phillis family.  A hill on their property, just north of the town, was named Mount Pleasant by the family, and it is believed that this became common use by the family and those passing through.

Today’s township of Mount Pleasant comprises three hamlets – Totness, Mount Pleasant and Hendryton. Henry Glover surveyed, in 1856, the centre section of today’s township, namely the area from Railway Terrace to Saleyard Road, and called it Mount Pleasant; it is believed that this name was used for the area by James Phillis and his family.

Totness was surveyed in 1855, with Henry Giles snr. as the developer.  The name was derived from the birthplace of Henry’s wife, Mary Ann (nee Tippett), and included the area from Saleyard Road to Pentelows Road.  Henry also developed North Totness, continuing from Pentelows Road to Angas Valley Road; this being surveyed in 1869.

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904) Saturday 5 May 1855 p 1 Advertising

New township of Totness.

Eastern Sources of the River Torrens, District of Talunga.—The SURVEY of the above Township is now complete, and the Allotments marked off on the surface. A Plan of the Property will shortly be ready. The situation as a country district, both as regards business or health, cannot be surpassed; and the Torrens, which runs through the whole length, affords an ample supply of water at all seasons. The liberality of the proprietor has enabled the Surveyor to mark out an acre as a site for the erection of a Place of Public Worship, and in other respects the convenience of Settlers has been kept strictly in view. To persons acquainted with that beautiful portion of the garden of England (Devonshire),whence this Township takes its name, nothing more need be said. There is abundance of good building stone on the ground.

Further particulars and terms may be known on application to Mr. Henry Giles, Proprietor, near the property, or to Mr. S. Partridge, Surveyor, etc, Woodside. 123-’39


John Hendry, a blacksmith living in Totness, developed the land to the west of Mount Pleasant, comprising that from Crick’s Mill Road (main road to Williamstown) to Railway Terrace; this being surveyed in 1865.

In 1907 and 1908 there was discussion in the newspapers of the day, regarding the naming of Mount Pleasant, by various members of the first families in the district.  Both the Giles and Phillis families had settled large sections of the district since 1842.

In the obituary for Mrs Charlottte Bushell, credit for the naming is given to Mrs George Phillis, her sister-in-law.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889-1931), Thursday 7 February 1907 p6  … The late Mrs.. George Phillis was her sister-in-law, and she named a small hill “Mount Pleasant”.  From that the township derived its name…. Discussion was being carried out regarding various place names generally in 1908 and the following comment was made… The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901-1929) Thursday 9 July 1908 p5 …Mount Pleasant is generally believed to have been christened by an early settler after one of his relatives named Pleasant, but the evidence of the point obtainable from his descendants is conflicting.  While one believes the above to be true, another member of the same circle claims that the name was bestowed by another early settler belonging to the same family, as being descriptive of the surroundings…

In reply… The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901-1929), Saturday 11 July 1908 p10


To the Editor, Sir – From today’s issue you seem to be unable to procure reliable information about the derivation of Mount Pleasant.  The late Mr. James Phillis who died on August 31, 1889, aged 93 years, was one of the very first occupers of the then open land around here, and camped in a watch box alongside his sheepyard to protect his flock from wild dogs on Mount Pleasant, which he named after his mother, who Christian name was Pleasant.  A lad – relative of the same name still resides in this district.  The township of Mount Pleasant situated about three miles south east from the mount, comprised Mount Pleasant, Totness, and Hendryton.  My late uncle, Henry Giles, who arrived in the Buffalo, laid out Totness, and anmed it after his wife’s birthplace.  Hendryton was laid out by the late John Hendry, who died at Norwood… I am, Sir, &c HENRY A. GILES, Mount Pleasant

(Research has determined that James Phillis’ mother was Charlotte (nee Gadwin), however he did have a sister, Pleasant, who married Henry Kemp.  Henry and Pleasant Kemp lived at Mount Pleasant, and there is a strong belief in the Phillis descendants that the naming of Mount Pleasant was after Pleasant Kemp.)