Croppo Sing (sic Singh) was an Indian shepherd and pioneer who worked for William Fowler at Lake Victoria. He, like most shepherds lived in a stringy bark hut. Croppo could not read or write, but knew the importance of saving money and by 1848 had saved a considerable amount of money which he kept hidden in his hut. Hiding money in this way was not a safe practice because of their isolation.

Mr. Fowler, after hearing that a savings bank was soon to open in Adelaide, South Australia explained the concept of banking to Croppo and advised him to deposit money into the new Bank for safe keeping. It is not known how much money Croppo had hidden away. But on the 11th March 1848, Croppo visited the bank with William Fowler and deposited 29 pounds ($58) and became the first person to deposit money in a South Australian Bank. (The bank was opened and managed by Mr. Glen Osmond and situated at

Gawler Place Adelaide.) Because Croppo could not read or write he signed the deposit document with a + (his mark) and the deposit was witnessed by Mr. Fowler. This document is still held by the bank. In the 3 years following the opening of the account Croppo only withdrew one amount for 5 pounds ($10). The conditions connected with depositing money with the newly formed bank was that the maximum amount that was permitted to be deposited at any one time was 30 pounds ($60) and minimum deposit was one shilling (10 cents) and the maximum amount held in at any one time was 100 pounds ($400). Croppo was paid good interest on his deposit.

Croppo’s duties as a shepherd was to care for the sheep during the day, at night the sheep were usually yarded and cared for by the hut keeper.  Both the shepherd and the hut keeper usually but certainly not always lived in a stringy bark hut. Stringy bark huts were usually rough constructions that were small, draughty and barely weather proof and constructed with branches and bark from a stringy bark tree (Eucalyptus). The floors were usually dirt or dirt mixed with animal manure. A shepherd and hut keeper’s life was usually hard, lonely and poorly paid.

© Len Kenna & Crystal Jordan 2013

Selected Bibliography:
[1] Croppo Sing’s £29. The Advertiser Adelaide SA Fri. 11 Mar 1938 p. 28.
[1] Savings Bank. News Adelaide SA Tue. 30 Oct. 1928 p.5.
[1] The People’s Bank. Evening Journal Adelaide SA Wed 23 Aug 1899 p. 2.
[1] Savings Bank of South Australia – First Ledger Account  1848-1851 Facimile.