Captain Hugh Quin was one of South Australia's stalwart pioneers. He was born at Newry in the north west of Ireland, in 1817 - the youngest of eleven children. At an early age, he went with the family to New York. The voyage in those days was by sailing ship, and Hugh Quin became fascinated with the sea. He began his nautical experience as "boy" on the "Cassandra," later transferring to the "Eagle," which was bound for Rio de Janeiro. There he saw the brig "Cygnet," which took his fancy, and in her he "signed on" for London.
Sailing from there as second mate under Captain J. Rolls, a voyage to the new Province of South Australia was successfully made (during which he attained his nineteenth birthday), arriving at Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island, on September 11, 1836. The "Cygnet" discharged her eighty-seven passengers there and received instructions to proceed to Port Lincoln and keep a look-out for H.M.S. "Buffalo," which was shortly expected with Governor Hindmarsh and other prominent persons on board. That vessel arrived on Christmas Day and was duly escorted to Holdfast Bay by the "Cygnet," whose officers took part in the official Proclamation of the Province on December 28. Captain John Hart, another pioneer closely associated with Port Adelaide, was also present on that occasion.
Later, the "Cygnet" sailed for Hobart, where Quin "paid off" and booked as passenger for Port Adelaide by the "Sir Charles Macarthy" in August, 1837. Immediately on arrival he was given the position of Government Pilot in consideration of his extensive knowledge of the South Australian coastline. His services thereafter were called upon in cases of shipwrecks, as in 1888, when the fine ship "Star of Greece" was lost on the reef at Port Willunga, and in November of the same year when the ship, "Ashmore," went ashore on the Sultana Rocks.
He was appointed Assistant Harbourmaster under Captain Thomas Lipson, R.N., and later Harbourmaster, which position he filled successfully for twenty-six years, resigning in 1882. In 1849, the Government steam paddle tug, "Adelaide," arrived from England and Captain Quin was given charge of her on June 1, 1850. She is not to be confused with another steam paddle tug named "Adelaide", which was imported for the Adelaide Steam Tug Company and was built at Aberdeen. She was much larger, being 255 tons and 99 hp., and was operating here in 1879. When, in 1886, South Australia's warship, H.M.C.S. "Protector," arrived at Port Adelaide, Captain Quin was appointed her pilot on her various trips to the outports.
He married, in 1838, Isabella Lockhart, who had arrived from England on December 4, 1837, in the ship, "Lady Emma," 231 tons (Captain John Hart, Master).They were married at Holy Trinity Church by Rev. C. B. Howard. Lodgings were at a premium in those days. For some time Captain Quin lived on the Store Ship at the Old Port, She was formerly the French ship, "Villa de Ia Bordeaux," which made history in 1852 when she was detained by the Collector of Customs, Sir R. B.Torrens, for illegal trading, but sailed with the Customs officer on board. A law suit by the French authorities was decided against the South Australian Government, who had to pay £4,000.
Captain Quin, who was known as the Grand Old Man of the Port, was, of course, a capable yachtsman and sailed the yacht "Xanthe" for a good many years, winning several prizes with her.
He died on April 29,1896, aged 79 years, leaving a good number of descendants.
Smith, V., 1957, THE PIONEERS' ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, No. 2857.