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William (Bill) Pretty (1806–1882)

William Pretty (1806-1882), a silk weaver, the son of Thomas Perry and Mary Lee, was found guilty on 16 March 1829 at the Kent Assizes of housebreaking. He admitted the crime. Sentenced to life imprisonment he arrived at Hobart, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) aboard the Surrey in December 1829. He was described as being 5 feet 8½ inches (169 cms) tall, with a pale complexion, and dark brown hair and eyes. He was assigned to Mr McNully in 1830, to Mr Steiglitz in 1832 and 1834 and was working on Public Works in 1835. He was granted a conditional pardon on 18 January 1840.

Pretty had applied in 1831 for his wife Eliza and two children — who had been living with his mother in London — to be sent to the colony. They arrived on the William Bryan in October 1833. The couple's remaining nine children were born in Hobart.

Pretty was working as a constable in Hobart in 1851 but had moved to Victoria by 1854. On 15 June of that year he placed an ad in the Argus newspaper advising that his wife had voluntarily left the family home and he would no longer be responsible for her debts. It is not known if they reconciled.

In a series of articles in the Sunbury News in 1903 (  and ) Isaac Batey said that Pretty had worked as a constable and had 'long been in our employ' in the Sunbury area of Victoria.

William Pretty died at the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum on 25 September 1882. His cause of death was disability and chronic nephritis. He was buried on 28 September at the Melbourne General Cemetery.  According to his death certificate he had spent 32 years in Victoria and had four children. Their particulars were not known.

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Citation details

'Pretty, William (Bill) (1806–1882)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


28 February, 1806
Sudbury, Suffolk, England


25 September, 1882 (aged 76)
North Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

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.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Passenger Ship
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft (house)
Sentence: life
Court: Kent
Trial Date: 16 March 1829


Occupation: weaver
Married: Yes
Children: Yes (2)


Children: Yes (9)