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William Douglas (c. 1762–1838)

William Douglas (c.1762-1838) was found guilty on 9 July 1785 at Lincoln, England, of stealing a silver watch from a man's pocket. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, he was sent to the Justitia hulk, where he remained until he embarked for New South Wales on the Alexander in January 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Douglas married (as William Douglass) Mary Groves on 1 June 1788 at St Philip's Church, Sydney. On 18 December 1790 he was ordered to work in a gang after he, and two other people, assaulted two seamen.

Douglas was granted 30 acres of land at Mulgrave Place in November 1794. By 1801 he was living in Sydney. There are no records for his wife after the 1796 baptism of their daughter. By 1806 he was living with Sarah Bailey, who was recorded in the muster as his housekeeper. They had known each other since at least 1801.

Douglas was renting 15 acres of land in the Hawkesbury area in 1806, supporting himself, a wife (Sarah Dailey), and two children (one —William and Mary Douglas's daughter, the other —the daughter of Sarah Dailey). Douglas moved back again to Sydney where, in 1807, he was a witness at his stepdaughter's wedding. Sarah Dailey disappears from the records around this time. By 1814 Douglas was working as a labourer in Sydney. In 1822 he was living with Eleanor Carthorne. The 1828 Census shows him living with his son-in-law Daniel Jurd at Pitt Town and operating as a butcher.

William Douglas died on 27 December 1838 at St Albans.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 107-08

Citation details

'Douglas, William (c. 1762–1838)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Douglass, William

c. 1762
Lincolnshire, England


27 December, 1838 (aged ~ 76)
St Albans, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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
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Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years