1788 - William Eggleton, alias ‘Bones’, was a convicted thief, transported from England to the Penal Colony of New South Wales, as a convict.  He arrived at Sydney Cove on the 26th January 1788, aboard the transport ship AlexanderThis vessel was one of the eleven ships that made up the First Fleet that established an English settlement in Australia.

His trial had been held at the Surrey Lent Assizes that commenced at Kingston upon Thames on Wednesday the 22nd March 1786, before Sir Henry Gould, Knight and Sir William Henry Ashhurst, Knight.

He was tried on the morning of the 23rd March 1786 and charged with –

‘a)  Committed 23 January 1786 b)  … that William Eagleton otherwise Bones late of the parish of Saint Saviour within the borough of Southwark labourer and James Spencer late of the same …. Upon the 12th day of January … with force and arms at the parish aforesaid … the dwelling house of Edward Warren feloniously did break and enter … and one Deal Box of the value of 2s. one Iron Padlock of the value of 6d. three woollen cloth Coats of the value of £3 one pair of Jean Breeches of the value of 5s. one pair of Corduroy Breeches of the value of 4s. one pair of Nankeen Breeches of the value of 3s. one Shag Waistcoat of the value of 4s. one silk Waistcoat of the value of 4s. one dimity Waistcoat of the value of 2s. one black Silk Gown of the value 15s. one muslin Gown of the value of 20s. one printed cotton Gown of the value of 10s. and one black silk Cloak of the value of 20s. of the goods and chattels of the said Edward Warren feloniously did steal’

‘Not Guilty of breaking and entering, guilty of stealing goods v 39s. no chattels. Trans: 7 years beyond the sea.’

Occupation: Labourer   Age: 26 1


Mary Dickenson also arrived at Sydney Cove on the 26th January 1788.  She was a convict who had sailed from England aboard the First Fleet transport ship, Lady Penrhyn.

Her trial had been held at Southwark, Surrey, Quarter Sessions on the 8th January 1787 where she was charged with –

a)  Committed the 23rd day of November, 1786, by T. Waterhouse, Esq, charged on the oaths of Elizabeth Marin, Richard Marks, John Hall and Richard Jackson on suspicion of feloniously stealing, taking and carrying away, from the shop of Richard Marks, on the 22d inst, in the parish of St. Saviour, in this County, eleven waistcoats, the property of the said Richard Marks.’

‘b)  … Convicted of Felony and … ordered to be transported for the Term of Seven Years … to such parts beyond the Seas as His Majesty in his Privy Council shall be pleased to appoint and direct.’ 2

Occupation: Barrow-woman   Age: 26 2


On the 17th February 1788, just three weeks after arriving in their new country, William Eggleton and Mary Dickenson were married.  Theirs was one of fifteen similar ceremonies performed by the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain of the First Fleet, on that day.


The couple’s first daughter Sarah was born on the 25th December By 1790 the colony was desperately short of provisions so Governor Arthur Phillip decided to establish a new farming district at Prospect with a view to supplying the starving settlement with much needed food and grain.  He selected twenty six of the most reliable convicts, with proven good character, to begin the new endeavour. 

‘None but ye industrious and sober were allowed to become farmers’. 

William Eggleton was one of the chosen convicts and in 1791 started farming on a sixty acre property at the foot of Prospect Hill, on what is now Old Toongabbie Road.


On the 16th October 1791 a son William was born to William and Mary.  The child died on the 5th June in 1792.

A second son, also called William was born on the 12th May 1793.


The sixty acre property at Prospect that William had named Eggleton’s Endeavour’ was granted to him by Lieutenant Governor, Francis Grose on the 28th May 1793.3

On the 1st April 1794, William Eggleton was granted a lease, on a seven acre property at Petersham by the Lieutenant Governor, Francis Grose.  This land was described as being -

‘nearly at the foot of Petersham Hill’.4


In July of 1794 William sold his 60 acre grant at Prospect to Thomas Daveny for 60 guineas.


On the 18th February 1796 a second daughter, Elizabeth was born to William and Mary Eggleton.


On the 25th August 1799, Mary Eggleton died and was buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground, (where the Sydney Town Hall now stands).  William apparently reared his children single-handed from this time.


On the 19th November 1799, William was appointed by the Governor to check the quality and quantity of grain supplied to the Government stores in the Sydney and adjacent areas.  The appointment was worded –

‘The Governor has thought proper to appoint the Person Hereunder named to take an accurate Survey of the grain which has been produced this season on the farms of Officers or others.  It is his desire that each person of that description will without any let of hindrance give a true and faithful account to the persons herby authorized to receive the same according to the plan which they have received for that purpose, and it is expected and insisted that every person attend the examination on his own ground and give every information.’


It was recorded in 1802 that William held 80 acres, by purchase, in the Field of Mars area.  Seventy acres were cleared with ten sown with wheat and eight ready for maize.  He owned nine hogs and held 20 bushels of maize.  By 1806 he again had ten acres of wheat in addition to a vegetable garden and 38 acres of pasture on which he ran eight sheep, two goats and ten hogs.  There is no record of a wife, however three children are noted.


In the 1811 Muster, William Eggleton and Family are listed as being landholders and living in the Windsor area.

By 1814 William was working on additional land he had received at Airds.  This area of 60 acres was granted to him on the received at Airds.  This area of 60 acres was granted to him on the 18th January in 1817, and was situated behind the present Macarthur Shopping Square at Campbelltown.


Between 1816 and 1820 William was recorded several times in the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence on the Return of Horned Cattle issued from the Government herds.

In 1820 William Eggleton wrote a memorial to Governor Thomas Brisbane requesting a further land grant.  He said in part -

‘I arrived in the Colony about 36 years ago and have been a free man for 20 years during which time my conduct has been uniformly good.  The petitioner has not ever had his name brought into question’. 

The Governor responded to the request by granting William 50 acres at Bargo, now Wilton.  The land grant was gazetted on the 30th June 1823.  The family farmed the ground well into the 1840s.  This land was situated close to the present Wilton Parachuting School.


In the 1822 muster, William Eggleton was listed as employed by Robert Lack on his property near Liverpool.  This farm was located in what is Campbelltown today.

William Eggleton was not listed in the 1828 Census.  Apparently he died between 1825 and 1828.  His death was not recorded and his gravesite is unknow.n



1   Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts  John Cobley   page 83

2   Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts  John Cobley   page 77

3   Land Grant #114  Book A1 page 60

4   Land Grant #180  Book A1 page 93




William Eggleton by Shirley White

General Muster of New South Wales  1814

General Muster and Land & Stock Muster of New South Wales  1822

Census of New South Wales  November 1828


Ian Palmer

Return to Alexander          ------         Return to Lady Penrhyn


Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters