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William Chaaf (c. 1762–1790)

William Chaaf (c.1762-1790) was found guilty on 20 March 1786 at Exeter, Devon, for the theft of a silver watch, £8.1s.7d, and other goods worth 37s.10d from a house. His death sentence was commuted to 7 years transportation. He was sent to the Dunkirk hulk, where he remained until he embarked for New South Wales on the Charlotte in March 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

On 14 May 1789 Chaff was sentenced to 150 lashes for stealing a pumpkin from John Archer. On 20 April 1790 he was hanged after being discovered attempting to rob James Tenhel. It was said that he had entered Tenhel's house through a section of thatch roof that may have been left unsewn by Chaff himself — he had helped to sew it.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 98

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Citation details

'Chaaf, William (c. 1762–1790)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Chaap, William
  • Chaff, William
  • Chafe, William

c. 1762


20 April, 1790 (aged ~ 28)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years