Peter Egerton-WarburtonPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The plaque commemorates Peter Egerton-Warburton, Commissioner of Police in South Australia from 1853 to 1867, and an explorer of inland Australia. Peter Warburton was buried in the church grounds. 

Colonel Peter Egerton-Warburton CMG FRGS (16 August 1813 – 5 November 1889), often referred to as Major Warburton, was a British military officer, Commissioner of Police for South Australia, and an Australian explorer. In 1872 he sealed his legacy through a particularly epic expedition from Adelaide crossing the arid centre of Australia to the coast of Western Australia via Alice Springs.

Egerton-Warburton took up the position of Commissioner of Police in the Colony of South Australia, effective 8 December 1853, replacing Alexander Tolmer, who was demoted to Superintendent.

Egerton-Warburton was Commissioner of Police for almost fourteen years. A considerable increase in government finances during this period allowed him to undertake morale-boosting reforms in numerous areas, including rank structures, uniforms, and establishing a policing presence into ever-expanding frontier districts. However he was also greatly excited by the opportunities for exploration in Australia, and because of this preoccupation his administration was somewhat disorganised. He was in 1856 the instrument of Governor MacDonnell`s  sacking of Superintendent of Police Tolmer, by all events a zealous and efficient officer, and the hero of the Gold Escort, while promoting less diligent but more sociable officers. A well-attended public meeting at  Green`s Exchange called for his reinstatement.

Following an internal police force inquiry in 1867, to which evidence was given against Egerton-Warburton but not disclosed, it was suggested that "... other employment in the Government Service, more congenial to his habits and tastes, should be found for him". Warburton's case divided the community. The allegations against him were never substantiated and he staunchly refused to resign. He was dismissed from his post early in 1867. A subsequent Legislative Council inquiry then recommended his reinstatement; however, on 24 March 1869, he accepted appointment as Chief Staff Officer and Colonel of the Volunteer Military Force of South Australia.

Based on expeditions undertaken, it appears that he was accused of allowing his passionate interest in exploration, which required long periods in isolation, to distract him from normal police duties. Warburton later received further honours of in recognition of his groundbreaking exploration work, but not his police service.


Address:Kensington Road, St Matthew`s Anglican Church, Marryatville, 5068
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.926854
Long: 138.644363
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - Colonial
Approx. Event Start Date:1853
Approx. Event End Date:1867


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 28th April, 1994
Front Inscription

Within The Consecrated Grounds
     Of This Church Yard
Lies The Final Resting Place Of
Commissioner Of Police 1853 - 1867
And Noted Explorer Of Inland Australia
   This Plaque Was Unveiled On
          28 April 1994
   Mr D. A. Hunt, QPM
    Commissioner Of Police
      Ms V. Ciccarello
Mayor Of The City Of Kensington & Norwood

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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