FF WILLIAM BROUGHTON ‘Charlotte’ (1768-1821)

Servant to Surgeon John White


Born in November 1768, William Broughton was the son of Henry and Sarah Broughton of Chatham in Kent. His father died when he was young and he was brought up by his uncle Captain Broughton.

William arrived in Sydney Cove on January 26 1788 on the ‘Charlotte’, as the personal servant of surgeon John White. Prior to sailing, White apparently heard in London that the First Fleet Chaplain Richard Johnson had been allowed to engage a servant and he requested the same privilege for himself.  This is how the nineteen year old William came to be sailing with the First Fleet. He was young, and I like to think he was ambitious and looking for an adventure, willing, honest and from a good naval family. It was an opportunity which he appreciated. With hard work and his strong sense of public duty, and despite some difficulties, he became a storekeeper, land owner and Deputy -General  Commissary in Sydney, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen’s Land and a Magistrate at Appin and Airds, early settlements west of Wollongong.


Described in official letters of the time as “well educated and a competent accountant” he was appointed to supervise the food rationing at Rose Hill in February 1789.  His assistant at the Commissary was James Smith who was also responsible for assigning the day to day work for gangs of convicts.  He had previously been granted some land at Parramatta and Concord, and later, in 1795, he and several others received a substantial land grant at the North Brush in the Field of Mars, now known as Ryde and Eastwood.  Soon afterwards he bought out the others and assumed full control of the property he named Chatham Farm after his birthplace. Incidentally, this area is close to where I lived for many years with my family before I moved to Albury. By 1800 William had 16 acres sown with wheat and 3 acres ready for planting maize, as well as grazing a collection of animals, 7 sheep, 3 goats,3 pigs, and 2 horses.


During his time in Parramatta William met and formed a close relationship with Elizabeth Heathorn, also known as Ann Glossop, a young woman from Poole in Monmouthshire who had arrived in the colony in February 1792 on the Pitt, sentenced to 7 years transportation. They set up house together and their first daughter Mary Ann Broughton was born in 1793, follow by Sarah in 1799. In February 1800 Governor King appointed William as Acting Deputy Commissary for Norfolk Island and he and Elizabeth and their daughters arrived on the Island to take up the position in 1801.  Three more children, William Henry, Rebecca and Betsy were born on Norfolk Island before the family returned home via a short time spent in Van Diemen’s Land.


Back in Sydney Town there was talk that the newly appointed Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, would act against couples engaged in illicit relationships. William may have had some thoughts about marriage with a young widow Eliza Simpson.  He apparently decided to send Elizabeth Heathorn and their youngest child Betsy back to England where their eldest daughter was at school. Mother and daughter embarked on the General Boyd, which was under charter to Simeon Lord and sailed from Port Jackson on November 8 1809 with a cargo of timber, seal skins, coal and oil bound for the Cape of Good Hope.

Their first port of call was Wangaroa in the North Island of New Zealand where they were to load Kauri spars.  However, while the ship was at anchor in the harbour, there was a vicious surprise attack by a group of angry Maori warriors. Elizabeth Heathorn, along with the crew and most of the passengers died in what was later known as the Boyd Massacre. Little Betsy was apparently protected by a kindly Maori and was very lucky to survive until she was rescued by Alexander Berry. In 1812, after a series of adventures including time spent in Peru, she was eventually reunited with her father in Sydney three years later.


Meanwhile back in Sydney William had been appointed as a Magistrate in 1809, and the following year on December 8 1810 The Sydney Gazette reported his marriage “By Rev Mr Marsden at St John’s Church Parramatta on Tuesday last, William Broughton Esq. Acting Commissary to Mrs Simpson widow of the late Captain Roger Simpson.” William was aged 42 and Eliza Charlotte was 27. They were married by special licence granted by Governor Macquarie. They probably lived in Windsor after their marriage with their combined family of four, Eliza’s son Edward Simpson then aged 6 and William’s motherless children Sarah 11, William Henry 8, and Rebecca 6.William’s eldest daughter Mary Ann was still at school in England. I imagine Eliza would have been very busy with her new husband and four children and the added joy of the birth of their first son James Gordon Broughton the following year.


Appointed Commissary General in 1814 by Governor Macquarie, William was granted one thousand acres at Appin. In Macquarie’s Journal of his tours of the Cow Pastures in 1815 he wrote ‘we proceeded by a short but rough road to the farm of William Broughton which he has been pleased to name Lachlan Vale. Here he is building a long one-storey weather board house with two wings on a very lofty eminence commanding a very extensive prospect.  He has cleared a considerable portion of his farm and has some fine-looking fields of wheat growing looking healthy and promising’. I have a convict - made brick salvaged with permission from the bull-dozed ruins of William’s house. 

A great strain was being put on the Commissary stores with the increasing numbers of convicts arriving in the colony. Governor Macquarie claimed he too was ‘bewildered’ by the prospect of having to feed and house the two thousand six hundred convicts arriving within six months. William’s health was said to be deteriorating. There was a sale of furniture from his York St Sydney house which was then leased out. In December 1820 he was too ill to attend the official naming of Campbelltown and he was represented in Governor Macquarie’s official party by his young daughter Betsy. Sadly William and Eliza had only been married for eleven years when he died at Lachlan Vale on July 22 1821 aged fifty three.


His grave in St Luke’s Cemetery Liverpool is inscribed

Sacred to the memory of Acting Assistant Commissary-General Broughton Who departed this life July 20th 1821, Aged 53 years, Having faithfully served 33years in the above department in New South Wales.

His will made in 1813 mentioned bequests to his mother and brother and stressed that all his children were to receive equal shares of his estate.

It was said that as a colonial officer ‘he stood out among the motley officials of the day’and Governor Macquarie described him as having been a faithful, honest and useful official for thirty years.


The Fellowship of First Fleeters installed a FFF Plaque on William Broughton’s Grave on 14th August 1977.

This Plaque was replaced in 1993.

Refer FFF Web Site:http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/graves.html

Under FFF Plaque 2 – Installed 14th August 1977 (Replaced in 1993) for

FF WILLIAM BROUGHTON Servant to Surgeon John White ‘Charlotte’ (1768-1821)


Written by #8990 Kate Macpherson, a great greatgreat granddaughter of William and Eliza Broughton, who states: My connection is through William’s second family with Eliza Charlotte Simpson. Their daughter Francis Matilda married Dr Benjamin Clayton from Windsor near Sydney.  The Clayton’s son Benjamin, who inherited his father’s property Baltinglass at Murrumburrah, married Marianne Mackey Garland from Lochinvar near Maitland.   Their second daughter Aileen Clayton married Kenneth Mackenzie of Bundanon at Nowra and their eldest child was my mother Jean Mackenzie.



Family letters, newspaper cuttings, notes

Lachlan Macquarie Journals:- Tours of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land 1810-1822.-Tour of the Cow Pastures 1815-Tour of Illawarra 1822.

Margaret Carty:- William Broughton and the Kennedy Connection

Florence Stacey:- Notes from the history of the Anglican Church in Tumut 1830-1926

Stuart Hamilton Hume:- Beyond the Borders.


Details of William Broughton's death and burial place can be found on the Gravestone Plaques page - and with photographs.





Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters