1787 - 1861
Marshall Waller Clifton was born at Alverstoke, Hampshire, England on 1st November, 1787 to Reverend Francis Clifton and Rebekah Katharine (nee Bingham).
Waller (as he was called) joined the Admiralty aged 17 as a clerk. In 1811 he married Elinor Bell and proceeded over the years to have 15 children.
Clifton became Secretary of the Victualling Board (supplies) for the Royal Navy but when the position was abolished he was retired on half pay.
For the next 8 years he lived in France (which was much less expensive than England at the time).
Only middle aged, Waller wanted to find an enterprise to get involved with and was made Chief Commissioner of the Western Australian Company that planned to set up a town near Australind.
Waller (now aged 53) arrived in W.A. in 1840 with his wife and 11 of their children to oversee the settlement.
Initially there were reports by George Grey (who had not even seen the area) that Australind was not suitable for settlement. It was decided by the company that the settlement would be moved north to Port Grey and this was the instruction they gave to Clifton.
The company planned to sell land in Australind to investors in London (at 1 pound an acre) in order to raise the funds needed to send out labourers to work the grants. Initially there appeared to be great support for the idea but when the plans to shift the settlement to Port Grey became known many investors withdrew.
On arrival, Clifton spoke to Governor Hutt who persuaded him (in fact he seems to have insisted) that Port Grey was too far north and far less suitable than Australind. Clifton made the decision to stick with the original plan and some time later he went north to ensure that he had made the correct decision.
The problem was that it would take the better part of a year for Waller's decision to reach London and for a reply from the company to come back. This meant that land could not be allocated and little could be done in the way of construction until the company confirmed Waller's decision to stay at Australind. In fact it took until April 1842 before this occurred.
In late 1843 the company was wound up and Clifton was eventually dismissed. He decided to remain in W.A. and built Upton House (that can still be seen in Australind). He wrote the following in his diary:
"I found myself again placed in a situation of extraordinary difficulty, inasmuch as it was impossible for me to obey implicitly the Board's injunction. First the engagement of all survey officers, excepting Mr. Thompson and Mr. Greensill did not terminate till the 10th December, second, the engagement with the Island Queen men did not terminate till then, thirdly, the other men had always been promised by me that if they conducted themselves well, they would be given a month's notice before being discharged, fourthly, the boundaries of the allotments both town and country had not all been set out and could not be finished for some months, besides which work was in hand which must be finished, such as fencing etc. Under all these conflicting difficulties I determined to announce to the people my determination to carry on the service with the greatest activity so as to finish everything by the 10th December"
In 1844 Clifton was appointed as an un-official member of the Legislative Council and continued to serve in that capacity until 1858. (Note: One source says he became a member of the Leschenault Road Board in 1844 and joined the Legislative Council in 1851.)
Clifton was seen by some as one of the 'elite', destined, he thought, to rule over other lesser people. Rev. Wollaston called him 'King Waller the 1st.' With this belief and a somewhat difficult personality he was quite unpopular among those he considered beneath him. He was described by some as being autocratic but kindly.
Marshall also had some progressive ideas that were a bit too liberal for his time. Some accused him of being a socialist - quite a difference to the title 'King Waller'. He unsuccessfully opposed the death penalty and attempted to have it removed from the statute books in 1854. It would be 130 years before this was eventually done.
Clifton fell ill in late 1860 and died on April 10th 1861.
(One source says that Charles Dickens modelled his character Mr. Pickwick on M.W. Clifton.)
A detailed family history of the Cliftons can be found in the book 'Alverstoke - First farm on the Brunswick.' by E. K. Clifton.