MARINE PRIVATE WILLIAM STANDLEY
The First Fleet marine William Standley was born
about 1752 in England. He may be the William Standley
who was born at Plymouth, Devon, on 3 July, 1752
Standley was a private of the 5th Portsmouth
Company of the Royal Marines. He joined the ship
Sirius on 24 February, 1787
Standley made a will on 30 August 1788 in favour of
fellow marine friend, James Williams. At the same
time Williams made out his will favouring Standley. Both
these wills, witnessed by Sirius Captain John
Hunter and Purser John Palmer, still exist in
the UK National Archives.
Remaining on the Sirius until 24 June 1789,
Standley was subsequently discharged to the Port Jackson
detachment, where he remained until the completion of
his service. Deciding to remain in the colony, Standley
was one of the marine settlers granted land on Norfolk
Island. He travelled to Norfolk Island on the
Atlantic, on 26 October 1791, part of a group on 29
marine settlers, including his friend James Williams,
who had previously been posted for a marine term on
Elected as a member of the Norfolk Island Settlers
Association, by the end of November Standley had 10
acres under cultivation on his leasehold grant of 60
acres, Lot 43, at Phillipsburg.
Standley married Mary Anstey, a convict who had
arrived on the Lady Juliana. This was
possibly one of the marriages officiated by the Reverend
Richard Johnson on 5 November, 1791, and for
which records do not exist. Mary had been
convicted in 1787 at the Warwickshire Assizes, for the
theft of two silk handkerchiefs from the shop of
George Stubbs in Birmingham, and sentenced to seven
Mary arrived at Norfolk Island on the ship Lady
Nelson on 4 November, 1791. If she and Standley
were married on the following day, she either knew
Standley in Sydney, or this was a marriage of
convenience. On 16 August 1792, a daughter, Mary,
was born and a second child, Joseph, was born
about three years later.
By 1805, Standley is recorded as selling grain to the
stores and by 1807 he had nine acres of grain, eight
sheep, three sows and had 100 bushels of maize in store.
Following the government decision to abandon Norfolk
Island, William, Mary and their children sailed on the
third embarkation to Van Diemen’s Land on board the
Lady Nelson, on 14 February 1808. They left behind
all their land cleared, a shingled, boarded and floored
house (22x12ft), and three thatched log outhouses all
valued at £20
The Lady Nelson arrived at Derwent Bridge on 1
March, 1808. Standley was initially awarded 50 acres at
William Standley’s wife, Mary, died on 15 November 1812,
with her burial recorded at St David’s, Hobart.
By January 1817 Standley had 50 acres at Tea Tree (Ulva),
where he appears to have lived in close proximity to his
daughter, Mary and her husband, ex convict and
Government Coxswain on Norfolk Island, James Lowe.
On 20 February, 1830, William Standley drowned in the
Derwent River at Compton Ferry. According to newspaper
reports the night was very dark and he stepped off the
platform to the punt, falling into the river. A search
found only his hat. James Lowe subsequently advertised,
offering a reward for the location of Standley’s body,
but there is no record of this being claimed.
(Colonial Times, 26.02.1830)
Five Pounds Reward Whereas, on Saturday evening last,
William Standley aged 77 was drowned at Compton Ferry,
while in the act of getting into the Punt, owing to the
darkness of the night. The above Reward will be paid to
any Person finding his Body and delivering it to me,
Tea Tree Brush: Feb 22, 1830
As his friend James Williams had died some ten years
earlier it would be of interest to know whether William
Standley, at the time of his death a family man, had
replaced his earlier will with one favouring his own
children or descendants.
This story has been prepared by #7701 Gloria Wallace,
a descendant of James Williams. The author invites
descendants of William Standley to replace it with a
more comprehensive version of their own.
Gillen, M. The Founders of Australia: A
Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, Library
of Australian History, Sydney 1989.
Wood, Graeme A. As Far As I Can Tell: The
story of first fleet marine William Standley and
some of his descendants, Burnie, Tasmania, 2005.
Hobart, Tasmania 26 February 1830. pp 1-3.
Hobart, Tasmania 18 November, 1842 p.2.
Hobart, Tasmania, 26 February, 1848, p.2.