From Peninsular War to Coordinated Cadastre: William Light’s Route Maps of Portugal and Spain, and His Founding of Adelaide, the ‘Grand Experiment in the Art of Colonization’

  • Kelly HendersonEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


William Light’s appointment as Leader of the South Australian Colonization Commissioners’ ‘First Expedition’, as first Surveyor-General of the new British Province of South Australia, and his founding of the City of Adelaide in 1837, owes much to his military experiences in the British Royal Navy, and in the British Army where he served as a cavalry reconnaissance officer and Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General during the Peninsular War (1809–1814). In 1813, Light’s mapping and assessment of routes through northern Portugal and Spain assisted in planning of the Vitória campaign and thereafter. For the advance of infantry, cavalry and artillery, he reported on inaccuracies and details omitted in Lopez’s maps, on the condition and practicability of routes through Portugal’s Tras os Montes, Spain’s Castilla y León, and crossings of the Esla and Ebro rivers.


Colonization Society Deputy Assistant Park Land Watercolour Painting 96th Regiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bentham J (1832) Outline of a Plan of a General Register of Real Property: contained in a communication to the commissioners appointed under letters Patent, of date the 6th June 1828, to inquire into the Law of England respecting real property, and first printed in the appendix to their third report, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 24th May 1832. In: Bowring J (ed) The works of Jeremy Bentham, Part VI. William Tait, Edinburgh (1838)Google Scholar
  2. Colonization Commissioners for South Australia (1836) First Annual Report of the Colonization Commissioners for South Australia to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies. House of Commons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Dutton G, Elder D (1991) Colonel William Light, Founder of a City. Melbourne University Press, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  4. Elder D (1984) William Light’s Brief Journal and Australian Diaries. Wakefield Press, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  5. Elder D (1987) Art of William Light. Corporation of the City of Adelaide, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  6. Henderson K (2006) Adelaide: the ideal city of the philosophic radicals, and the great experiment in the art of colonization presented at The John Stuart Mill Bicentennial Conference 1806–2006, University College London, 5–7 April 2006. Republished in South Aust Geog J 105:138–150Google Scholar
  7. Henderson K (2008) William Light’s Adelaide: The genius of place and plan. In Proceedings of the ICOMOS 16th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, Quebec, 2008. Accessed 19 June 2015
  8. Henderson K (2010) Planning for the Greatest Good: A Case Study of William Light’s ‘Plan of the City and District of Adelaide, South Australia’, and Potential World Heritage Values. In Proceedings XXIV Fédération Internationale des Géomètres (FIG) International Congress, Sydney, Australia, 11–16 April 2010. Accessed: 19 June 2015
  9. Mayo MP (1937) The Life and Letters of Col. William Light. F.W. Preece & Sons, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  10. Oman C (1986) A History of the Peninsular War. AMS Reprint of Oxford Press, 1922, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Porter JR (2007) Light’s Survey of Adelaide–facts, fables and fancies. South Aust Geogr J 106:53–83Google Scholar
  12. Porter JR (2010) South Australia’s Shining Light–First S-G William Light. In Proceedings of the XXIV Fédération Internationale des Géomètres (FIG) International Congress 2010, Sydney, Australia, 11–16 April 2010. Accessed: 19 June 2015
  13. San Antonio Gómez C, Velilla C, Manzano-Agugliaro F (2011) Tomas Lopez’s geographic atlas of Spain in the Peninsular War. Surv Rev 43(319):30–44Google Scholar
  14. Wakefield EG (1829) A Letter from Sydney, the principal town of Australasia, edited by Robert Gouger. Joseph Cross, Holborn. (Reprinted from the Morning Chronicle)Google Scholar
  15. Wakefield EG (1833) England and America. A Comparison of the Social and Political State of Both Nations. Richard Bentley, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Ward SGP (1957) Wellington’s Headquarters: A study of the administrative problems in the Peninsular 1809–1814. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Way Sir Samuel (1905) Colonel Light Memorial. Lieut.-Governor’s Address. The Topographical Instinct. South Australian Register, June 22Google Scholar
  18. Wellesley AR (Ed) (1872) Supplementary Despatches, Correspondence, and Memoranda of Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, K.G. Volume XIV. John Murray, London. Accessed 19 June 2015

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations