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.

William Wall (c. 1764–1821)

William Wall (c.1764-1821) was found guilty on 8 March 1786 at Oxford, England, of the theft of two linen shirts, a linen shift and a dimity mantle. Sentenced to 7 years transportation he was sent to the Ceres hulk and embarked for New South Wales on the Alexander in January 1787, arriving in the colony in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Wall had six children with Grace Brown; they separated soon after 1806. Wall transferred to her the title of a house at 23 Pitt's Row, Sydney; she later returned to England with their two surviving children.

In 1799 Wall was sworn a constable for the Nepean district and the next year was appointed an overseer of women prisoners. His son, Richard, who had had to remain in England when he was transported in 1788, arrived in the colony in March 1803.

Wall married Mary McGuire on 13 June 1808; they had three children. In 1809 he was granted 200 acres at Bringelly. In 1811 he was listed as a storekeeper in Sydney. He continued to work as a storekeeper and in 1816 contributed to the Waterloo Fund.

By 1817 Wall had separated from his wife. The couple's youngest son George Wall, and their only daughter, Rhoda Wall, were sent to Orphan Schools. In March 1819 Wall returned to England on the Shipley presumably to visit his brothers and two children; his daughter Phoebe died while he was in the country. He returned to Sydney on the Hebe on 31 December 1820. 

William Wall was found hanging from a rafter in a house in York Street, Sydney, on 20 February 1821. His inquest concluded that he hanged himself in a state of lunacy. According to the inquest he had been co-habiting with his wife since returning from England and had been violent towards her, including stabbing her.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 369-70 and Fellowship of First Fleeters website accessed 19 June 2020

Original Publication

Other Entries for William Wall

Additional Resources

  • inquest, Sydney Gazette, 24 February 1821, p 3

Citation details

'Wall, William (c. 1764–1821)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Wale, William

c. 1764
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England


20 February, 1821 (aged ~ 57)
Sydney, 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
Key Organisations
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years