• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: PR00674

Clifton, Louisa

(1814 – 1880)
  • Born 26 September, 1814, London England United Kingdom
  • Died 12 October, 1880, Geraldton Western Australia Australia
  • Occupation Artist, Diarist


Louisa Clifton was born in London in 1814 to Marshall Waller Clifton and his wife Elinor (Bell); she was the third of their fifteen children. Her father was descended from an aristocratic Nottingham family, and her mother Elinor was a Quaker. Louisa grew up in London, then Boulogne (France). In 1841 she travelled with her parents and several siblings to help found Australind, a new colony in the south-west corner of Western Australia. Marshall Waller Clifton was part of a company that had been formed in order to buy a tract of land on the West Australian coast, sub-divide it into allotments, and establish a new town, of which he would be the Chief Commissioner.

Louisa Clifton kept a diary (1840-41) in which she described the family’s departure from Capecure, France , the voyage on the “Parkfield”, and the settlement in Western Australia. As Lucy Frost noted, ‘to read the Australian section of the journal is to watch an orderly English gentlewoman learn to live with confusion.’ Louisa Clifton also sketched and painted, and the few works of hers that survive are a valuable historical record of the early colonial settlement in Western Australia. Her sisters Mary and Elinor also painted, and their brother William was a photographer.

On 1 June, 1842, Louisa Clifton married George Eliot, who was Government Resident for the district of Bunbury, where the couple then lived at Bury Hill. The Western Australian Company that Louisa’s father was so heavily involved in ceased operations in 1843. Its assets were liquidated, and Australind became a ghost town. The Eliots moved to Geraldton in 1870, where George took up a post as Registered Magistrate. Louisa died there in 1880.

Published resources

  • Book Section
    • The Colonial Eye: A Topographical and Artistic Record of the Life and Landscape of Western Australia, Chapman, Barbara, 1979
    • Louisa Clifton: Fatigue and Battle at Australind, Frost, Lucy, 1984
  • Thesis
    • Awe, Disillusionment and Fear: Attitude to Landscape Among Christian Colonists of Far South-West Australia, Grellier, Jane, 1996
  • Book
    • A Friend Indeed: Louisa Clifton of Australind W.A., Russo, George, 1995
  • Journal Article
    • Diary of Louisa Clifton: Some Unique Impressions, Henn, Percy U., 1941
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Diary of Louisa Clifton, 1840-1841 [manuscript]
  • State Library of Western Australia
    • George Russo papers