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William Coventry (c. 1776–1830)

William Coventry (c.1776-1830) was sentenced to 7 years transportation in March 1801 at Donegal, Ireland. He arrived at Sydney aboard the Hercules in June 1802 and was sent to Norfolk Island on the Castle of Good Hope in April 1803. 

Coventry left Norfolk Island for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on the Lady Nelson in February 1808, settling on 52 acres at Melville, near Stephen Martin in 1813. From at least 1811 he lived with Martin's daughter Mary Ann; they had four children. In May 1819 the farm was advertised for sale to liquidate a debt.

Coventry was sentenced to 7 years transportation to Macquarie Harbour on 20 October 1829, for stealing there bullocks. With four other men he escaped on 3 September 1830. Once their provisions were exhausted, the men resorted to killing, and eating, each other. Only two — Edward Broughton and Matthew McAlboy — survived. They surrendered to authorities and were executed. Coventry was the second to be killed and cannibalised by the escaped convicts.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Coventry, William (c. 1776–1830)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1776
Donegal, Ireland


September, 1830 (aged ~ 54)
Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

axe wounds

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 Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: unknown
Sentence: 7 years
Court: Donegal (Ireland)
Trial Date: March 1801


Children: Yes (4)