His grave is in a sad state of neglect and in urgent need of conservation and restoration. He had no descendants, so public donations are greatly appreciated.
Osmond Gilles Grave Restoration
Osmond Gilles (1788-1866) was one of the most significant and colourful of the early South Australian colonists.
Prior to coming to South Australia, Osmond Gilles had been a merchant in Hamburg from 1816-1833; during this time he married Patience Oakden, who died without issue and he did not remarry. He was appointed Colonial Treasurer for the new colony of South Australia and arrived with Governor Hindmarsh in HMS Buffalo in December 1836. The fledgling colony struggled financially and the Treasury relied on personal loans from Gilles. In October 1839 Hindmarsh’s replacement, Governor Gawler, unable to obtain satisfactory statements of accounts, caused Gilles to resign and loans amounting to almost ₤12,000 were repaid.
In contrast to his performance in public office, Gilles was an astute and successful businessman. Although a controversial figure, with a quick temper when excited or provoked, Gilles was highly regarded for his generosity in aiding the establishment of numerous churches, cultural societies and charitable institutions. He is credited with encouraging Germans to settle and facilitated the development of early industries. Prior to arrival he was responsible with others for securing the Adelaide parklands, which are enjoyed by all today. Many sites in South Australia bear his name, including the suburb of Glen Osmond, Gilles Street, Gilles Plains and O.G. Road, to name just a few.
Gilles died in September 1866 and was buried in West Terrace Cemetery. His obituary in The Adelaide Observer described him as ‘one of our oldest and best known colonists … [whose] name … is so intimately connected with the history of the colony from its foundation’. It further commented that ‘Mr. Gilles’s strongest and most enduring tie to the world was his benevolence’.
His grave is in a sad state of neglect and in urgent need of conservation and restoration. He had no descendants, so public donation is required. As an historically significant monument, work will be done in accordance with the report by the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority (ACA) heritage consultant. ACA is supporting the project. The estimated cost of the works is $30,000.