Surveyor's chain used to survey the City of Adelaide by Isaac Guley.


This surveyor's chain is believed to have been used by Isaac Guley in surveying the City of Adelaide with Colonel Light. There are no records of Isaac arriving in South Australia but the 1841 census shows him, his wife Mary Ann and three children living in 'District A' immediately north of Adelaide. He is recorded as being a farmer with land near West Beach. This is an example of a Gunter's chain of a type dating back to the seventeenth century. The chain was donated to the Migration Museum by Mrs Gwendoline Howarth, the great-grand-daughter of Isaac Guley.


Colonel Light's vision of Adelaide as a 'planned city' made surveying an important part of South Australia's colonial history. Tools like this surveyor's chain were used to measure the land and to draw boundaries. This type of surveyor's is indicative of the largely unchanged technologies and methods available to surveyors at the time of South Australia's colonisation.  


Surveyor's chain, measuring an imperial chain made up of 99 links 187 mm in length with one smaller link measuring 55 mm in length. These links are joined by wire loops or rings. A wire hand hold is positioned in each end. Only two indicating markers remain. Both are 25 links from their respective hand holds.

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

Hi Sue,
The storey of Isaac Guley surveying with Light appears to have come from the family at the time of donation. From what I can see in the object records researchers at that time were unable to firmly establish Guley's date of arrival. I cannot find an 1840 passenger list for the Lysander, I've checked the 1851 passenger list for the Lysander ( and I am having trouble locating his name on that. Can you give me a little more information on your sources?

Sue dowsing's picture
Sue dowsing says:

I don’t understand how Isaac Guley could survey Adelaide with Colonel Light when Isaac Guley arrived in Adelaide in 1840 on the ship Lysander and Colonel Light died in 1839.

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