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William Tunks (c. 1754–1821)

William Tunks (1754-1821) was a marine in the 26th (Portsmouth) Company when he arrived at Sydney aboard the Sirius in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. He was discharged to the Port Jackson detachment and worked as a gimlet maker for extra pay until February 1790.

Deciding to settle, Tunks was granted 60 acres on Norfolk Island at Phillipsburg in October 1791. Tunks formed a relationship with Sarah Lyons on the island. By the end of 1792 he was selling grain to stores but in March the next year he left Norfolk Island and enlisted in the New South Wales Corps at Port Jackson. He received a 25 acre land grant at Mulgrave Place in 1795 and was discharged from the Corps on 24 April 1803 at which time he received a 140 acre grant of land at Evan. 

Tunks was listed as a self-employed gimlet maker, a trade he continued to follow through the years, having leased his 140 acres to John Palmer, who was listed as owner in 1812. In 1809 Tunks had narrowly escaped death in an attack by Aboriginal people led by Tedbury.

William Tunks died on 6 August 1821 at Sydney; his age was given as 74.  

information from

Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 361

'William Tunks-Tonks', HMS Sirius 1786-1790, — accessed 6 April 2021

Citation details

'Tunks, William (c. 1754–1821)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Tonks, William

c. 1754
Shropshire, England


6 August, 1821 (aged ~ 67)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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