People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Maxwell, George William (c. 1755–1791)

George William Maxwell (c.1755-1791) was a lieutenant in the navy when he arrived at Sydney aboard the Sirius in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Maxwell was ill on the voyage to New South on the Sirius and began to show increasing signs of mental disturbance. He was ordered home on 26 December 1789 after being declared insane by surgeons George Worgan, John White and Denis Considen.

In April 1790, as the colony's food shortage reached crisis point he was observed rowing a small boat from one side of the harbour to the other, without food, for nearly two days. He was brought back and kept under close scrutiny.

Maxwell left the colony on the Waaksamheid in March 1791 and died at sea on 13 April 1791.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 242

Citation details

'Maxwell, George William (c. 1755–1791)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/maxwell-george-william-31496/text38951, accessed 6 March 2021.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Maxwell, William George
Birth

c. 1755

Death

13 April 1791
at sea

Cause of Death

unknown

Passenger Ship
Occupation
Key Events
Social Issues