Free settlement

Colonel William Light was sent from England to South Australia in 1835 to select and survey a suitable site for the new settlement. He chose the banks of the River Torrens and named it after Queen Adelaide. The free colony of South Australia was founded in 1836.

There was so much optimism for Australia's first free settled colony that no gaol was included in Colonel Light's 1837 plan. However, that optimism was short lived. Warnings for Adelaide citizens to be wary of escaped convicts from New South Wales hit the South Australian Register by mid 1837.

It was quickly apparent that not everyone in the new colony intended to be a law-abiding citizen, and tenders were sought for a temporary gaol. The first sheriff, Samuel Smart, was attacked and wounded during a robbery that led to one of the offenders, Michael Magee, becoming the first person hanged in South Australia on 2 May 1838.