William Wall was born about 1764 in Oxfordshire England. In March 1785, when he was a 21 year old labourer, he was caught stealing: two linen shirts, one linen shift, and one dimity mantle. The total value of the theft was seven shillings. In August 1785 he was found guilty and sentenced to: ‘Transportation beyond the seas for seven years.’


On the 6 January 1786 he was incarcerated on board the Ceres hulk, and 15 months later, on the 12 April 1787, he was put on board the Alexander which sailed for Port Botany on the 13 May 1787, arriving in Port Jackson on the 26 January 1788 with the First Fleet. He had thus been incarcerated for two years before arriving in Port Jackson, Sydney Cove, to serve the remaining five years of his  sentence.

The convicts on board the Alexander were one of the first groups of convicts to set foot at Sydney Cove. William left his wife (name unknown) and two young boys - William Wall and Richard Wall, back in England. However, he subsequently married twice again and had another nine children, six with his second wife and three with his third wife, before he died on the 20 Feb 1821, aged between 56 and 58, in Sydney.

In approximately 1790, William married his second wife Grace Brown, another convict, and they had six children. Sadly, two children died at birth (Arthur Phillip Wall and William Wall) and two others, John Wall and Sarah Ann Wall, died within two years of their birth. The only survivors beyond two years were Phoebe Wall and Joseph Wall.


By 1793 William would have served his sentence and become a free settler In 1799, aged about 35 and having stayed out of trouble, William was made a Police Constable for the Nepean District and in 1800 an Overseer of Women Prisoners. In 1802 William was on record as being a Private in the Loyal Sydney Association, a volunteer organisation formed to counteract any threat of a convict insurgence.

In 1803, William’s son Richard Wall (ancestor of #8402 Carolyn Olivier, this contributor) aged 17, arrived on board the Glatton as a free settler, followed by his older brother William in 1814 on board the General Hewitt, also as a free settler. Their mother had died, leaving them orphans in England. As a result, their uncles successfully petitioned William Balmain for them to be allowed to join their father in Sydney.

Between 1805 and 1807, William separated from his second wife Grace Brown who subsequently returned to England in 1809 on the Admiral Gambler with their 2 remaining children Joseph Wall aged 4 and Phoebe Wall aged 17.

In 1808 William ‘married’ his third wife Mary Ann McGuire, who also had arrived as a convict. They had two sons, George Edward Wall and Edward Thomas Wall, and a daughter, Rhoda Ann Wall. His other two children Joseph Wall, and Phoebe Wall were living with their mother Grace, back in England.


In 1809 William was granted a Wine and Spirits Licence. In January 1810 William petitioned Governor Lachlan Macquarie for a grant of land pointing out that he had a family of five and having held several positions of trust with the government over a period of almost twenty years he had been promised 150 – 200 acres and a Licence for Vending Spirits by Governor King.


In April, three months later, William was appointed as Government Storekeeper and in November of the same year he was finally granted his 200 acres at Castle Hill on the basis of his long service to the government. William, now aged 46, was at the pinnacle of his respectability and success in the new Colony. He was a land owner, government storekeeper, had been a police constable, overseer of women prisoners and a volunteer in the Loyal Sydney Association. All seemed to go well for William for the next six years.


Alas, in February 1816 it was recommended by the Colonial Secretary, John Thomas Campbell, that William be dismissed from his job as Government Storekeeper for malpractice.  He had been ‘receiving meat into the Government Stores from persons not authorised to turn in any trade, and in conniving at other malpractices’. William then began operating as a Private Storekeeper on a leased lot at 10 York Street Sydney with his third wife Mary Ann McGuire.

Of William’s original eleven children, four were dead, and five were still alive and living in Sydney:  William Wall, Richard Wall, George Edward Wall, Rhoda Ann Wall and Edward Thomas Wall.


In August 1817 he announced his separation from Mary Ann McGuire. Soon after this separation, their youngest son George Edward Wall, and their only daughter, Rhoda Ann Wall, were sent to Orphan Schools. Presumably Mary and William were unwilling or unable financially, to look after them. One son, however,Edward Thomas Wall, it is assumed, remained with his mother, Mary Ann McGuire.

In January 1819 William petitioned Governor Lachlan Macquarie for permission to return to England. It is possible that he wished to renew contact with his two brothers and his second wife Grace and their children Joseph Wall and Phoebe Wall, who were now living in England. Permission was granted, and he left Sydney on the Shipley on the 26 March 1819.


He returned to Sydney on the Hebe on the 31 December 1820, thus being away for just 21 months. While in England, sadly, his daughter Phoebe Wall, aged 28, died. William’s return to Sydney after his stay in England may not have gone well, because within two months he himself was dead. On the 20 February 1821 he hung himself ‘while in a state of lunacy’ in the bakehouse at the rear of his old dwelling at 10 York Street, Sydney, where he was cohabiting again with his third wife, Mary Ann McGuire


The Sydney Gazette reported William’s death as follows: ‘On Tuesday morning last the body of Mr William Wall, one of the Primitive Europeans of the Colony and who had only within these last few months returned from a visit to England, was found suspended on his premises in York St.

‘The vital spark was quite extinct when the body was discovered and the unfortunate and respected old man is supposed to have perpetrated the unhappy act under the influence of temporal derangement, to which effect a Coronial Inquest assembled for the occasion, returned a verdict.’ The Coroner was Edward Smith Hall.  A neighbour, James Pooley, provided a witness statement to the Coronial Inquest stating that he attributed William’s  lunacy to ‘his domestic quarrels, to the loss of his daughter and to his intoxication.’ After the Coronial Inquest, his body was sent to Governor Lachlan Macquarie for burial. The burial record for William is blank, with only his age 65 recorded which could not be correct. His age would have been between 56 and 58.  He probably had a pauper’s burial in Sandhills Cemetery, which is now Sydney Central Railway Station.


Nearly 200 years later, he finally has family members interested in his life story!

William Wall (alias Harding) is the 4th great grandfather of Carol Olivier FFF # 8402


 From the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of William Wall.


 Evidence taken at the house of Chris Mrs (sic) the 20 Feb 1821 in the afore noon, in York Street, Sydney


James Pooley, shoe maker, being sworn: ‘I have known the deceased many years. About half past 8 o’clock last night I saw him arrive on his own premises.  He was walking calmly in the passage between his own home and his neighbours and had a piece of paling in his hand. I said to him, ‘Mr Wall you have done a wrong thing to use your wife in this manner.’  He said, ‘I own your eyes I have often told you I would do you an injury for interfering on the behalf of that woman’.  He was a little in liquor but not drunk, he walked steadily and spoke quietly but angrily.  He had his senses about him.


‘My wife went for some constables. Six came up and they went into Wall’s premises to take him into custody for stabbing his wife on Friday night. He had not been quarrelling with his wife last night but from his general habits I am sure that he intended last night to have got in and beat his wife. He left the passage when the constables were sent for, and let himself in to the front room of his own house. He was very quiet.


We opened the window to see if he was in the room and when we did so, he clapped it to, three or several times. I and Wall’s little boy remained outside the gate till half past eleven and we then went home and went to bed. Mrs Wall was at my house for safety. She and her little boy slept on the floor.

‘One of the Constables came this night about 1 o’clock and told me that their front window and back door were both open. I replied that that was the state in which I had left them.  When the first bell rang in the morning I got up and went to Mr Wall’s house and found all the doors and windows fast.


At about 7 o’clock she told her little boy to go home and fetch her black stockings.  He returned back, saying his father was hanging. I ran up and found the door of the bakehouse behind his house open and saw him hanging. I jumped on the stool and cut him down.  He was warm and quite dead but not stiff so I attempted to recover him to life.  There were no symptoms of re-animation.


 ‘I have always thought the deceased out of his mind – I attribute his lunacy to his domestic quarrels, to the loss of his daughter and to his intoxication – when he was sober he was given to fits of passion – I consider he was not right in his mind at any time – Finis.  E S Hall, Coroner


William Wall (alias Harding) is the 4th great grandfather of Carol Olivier FFF # 8402


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