Jane Buik was the Mayoress of Adelaide (married to the Mayor) between 1878-1879.

Early Life

Jane Clark Buik née Spankie was born in Scotland in 1831. On 22 November 1848, Jane married William Christie Buik in Dundee. The couple arrived in South Australia aboard the Coromandel in April 1849. At the time of their arrival Jane was nearly five months pregnant with their first child.

William began business as a hardware merchant in Hindley Street, in partnership with Robert Whyte. When gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851, Jane accompanied William to Melbourne, but they returned in 1853. William then set up his own merchant business in Rundle Street.

Jane and William had three daughters and four sons: James in 1849, William Burness in 1851 (who died in 1853), Robert in 1852, Helen in 1854, Jane in 1856, Emily in 1860, and William Edward in 1862.


The family were Congregationalists, and one can imagine Jane’s involvement with the women of the church. Prior to his death in 1903, William was a deacon of the Hindmarsh Square Church. 

From 1866 to 1868 William was Mayor of Kensington and Norwood. Active on the City Council for many years, William is credited with establishing the city and suburban tramway system. He was Mayor of Adelaide from 1878 to 1879. 

On Wednesday, 7 May 1879, Jane officially opened the Albert Bridge over the River Torrens. The South Australian Register reported:

After the company had taken up their positions on and around the platform, the Mayor announced that his wife had been asked to formally open the bridge. Mrs Buik then stepped forward, and after breaking the bottle of wine in the orthodox fashion, formally named the structure ‘The Albert Bridge’, and declared it open for traffic.

Personal Note

Jane died on 14 November 1890, at their home, Rosemount, on Kensington Road at Norwood. The South Australian Register published an obituary to Jane on 25 November 1890, noting that ‘she was esteemed by all who knew her for her quiet and unobtrusive manner’.

William died thirteen years later. Jane and William are buried in West Terrace Cemetery.

By Cheryl Williss, HerStory Project

The HerStory project came about to recognise and celebrate the lives and the achievements of Women’s work in South Australia and was initiated in 2015 on the 175th anniversary of the City of Adelaide, by Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide. The stories collected offer a unique perspective of Adelaide and South Australia that form a different history to what is often heard. This community built initiative is supported by the City of Adelaide and the History Trust of South Australia.

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