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William Bryant (1757–1791)

William Bryant was found guilty, on 20 March 1784 at Launceston, England, of impersonating  two of Her Majesty's seamen and receiving part of their wages. His death sentence was commuted to seven years transportation. He remained at the Dunkirk hulk until boarding the Charlotte which arrived in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Bryant married Mary Braund on 10 February 1788. Their daughter Charlotte had been born during the voyage on 8 September 1787; a son Emmanuel was born in April 1790.

Bryant was employed as a fisherman in the colony. On 4 February 1789 he received 100 lashes for selling fish caught in government time. He was also to be deprived of his boat and turned out of his hut.

On 28 March 1791, the Bryants, with their children and seven other convicts, caused a sensation in the colony when they slipped away in a small boat — headed for Batavia (Jakarta). They were shipwrecked at Timor and arrested on 17 September and taken to Batavia. Bryant died there in October.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 57

Citation details

'Bryant, William (1757–1791)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]




October, 1791 (aged ~ 34)
Jakarta, Indonesia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: fraud
Sentence: 7 years
Court: Cornwall
Trial Date: 20 March 1784


Children: Yes (2)
Left the colony: Yes