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William Parish (c. 1751–1817)

William Parish (c.1751-1817), alias William Potter, a former seaman, was found guilty on 20 October 1784 at the Old Bailey, London, of threatening a man with a pistol with the intention of stealing money from him. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, he was sent to the Ceres hulk in April 1785, 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.

As William Potter he married Phebe Norton on 13 February 1788 at Port Jackson; they had three children. By July 1791 the family had settled on 60 acres at Prospect. Parish was ordered to receive 100 lashes for insolence to Thomas Arndell (he threatened his life) on 10 January 1792. After being robbed in November 1795 (the three robber convicts were hanged) Parish struggled as a farmer and had sold his property to John Nichols by 1800.

Parish moved his family to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1805; he was appointed convict overseer at New Town and was granted 70 acres on the eastern shore of the Derwent. In July 1817 he re-assigned his property to Andrew Geils for an undisclosed sum.

William Parish died on 11 February 1817 at Sydney; his age was given as 66.

information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 274
  • Ron Withington, 'Vignettes from the Life and Times of my First Fleet ancestors, William Parish and Phebe Norton', Fellowship of First Fleeters website, — — accessed 9 September 2020

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Parish, William (c. 1751–1817)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 6 March 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Parrish, William
  • Potter, William

c. 1751


11 February, 1817 (aged ~ 66)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: assault and robbery
Sentence: 7 years