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James WILLIAMS (1760?-1820)

James WILLIAMS1 was born in 1760 (approx.) in Rixham (Wrexham), Denbighshire in Wales.1,2,3 His relationship to John is Paternal Great (x4) Grandfather. Between 8 June 1774 and 1780 James was an apprentice in Rixham (Wrexham). He was apprenticed to Daniel Roberts, an edge tool make. This employment ceased when Roberts went bankrupt but presumably he was sufficiently trained to gain employment.4 Between 1780 and 1782 he was a blacksmith . This was the trade he followed prior to enlisting in the army.3,5,6 In 1782 he was described as 5' 8" tall with a long dark-complexioned face. He had black hair and hazel eyes .5,6

he served in the military between 16 March 1782 and January 1788 . He enlisted in the British Army as a marine at Portsmouth, Hampshire. He served as a Marine Private in the East Indies from 1783 to 1785. He returned to England and on 24 February 1787 he was mobilised to the Royal Marines 23rd (Portsmouth) Company and was stationed on board the "Sirius" which became the flagship of the First Fleet to the new colony of New South Wales (later to be known as Australia). It sailed from Portsmouth along with the ten other ships of the fleet on 13 May 1787 arriving at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788.5,6,7,8,9

he migrated from England to Port Jackson Sydney, NSW arriving on 26 January 1788. The ship sailed from Portsmouth along with the other ten ships on 13 May 1787. They stopped at Teneriffe in the Canary Islands, Rio de Janiero in Brazil and the Cape of Good Hope.1,3,8,10

James made a will in October 1788 (approx.) . in favour of William Stanley. Why Stanley was the benificary is unknown.5,11

James married Rachael WATKINS on 15 November 1791 in Norfolk Island, Australia. It was on the island that James and Rachael met. They were married on the island in a group marriage ceremony performed by Rev Richard Johnson that is reported to have occurred, the details of which were never forwarded for registration.8,12,13

On 2 October 1788 (after his unit arrived in Port Jackson) he was transferred to Norfolk Island, Australia. He was sent on the vessel "Golden Grove". He was one of the marines who guarded the convicts on the island. While at Norfolk Island he was disciplined on 26 April 1789 after he left his guard post, became involved in a quarrel with a convict and later fought with another marine. The following month James had his shirt stolen by the convict Thomas Watson. Governor King ordered that he receive 24 lashes and be given extra duties. He received 12 lashes for the quarrel and 12 for fighting in the hut. "King made a solemn ceremony of the punishment. The free settlers hoisted the colours on Flagstaff Hill, the garrison was paraded and Williams received 24 lashes and extra work and duties. But King pardoned another offender, the convict Thomas Watson charged with theft, six weeks later as part of the Queen's Birthday celebrations". No doubt James felt agrieved at this turn of events.

He returned to Port Jackson in Sydney on the "Supply" departing on 11 February 1791. About a month later on 14 March he was discharged from the ship to the Port Jackson detachment.

He then decided he wanted to become a farmer/settler and so resigned. He returned to Norfolk Island on the "Atlantic" on 26 October. Although it appears it was never gazetted, he was granted 60 acres on the left side of Cascade Road (Cascade Stream), Phillipsburg. He then set about growing grain which was sold to the government Stores but the venture proved unsuccessful and he had to quit.

He again left Norfolk Island by the "Atlantic" in September 1792 and returned to Sydney where he immediately enlisted again and was assigned to his previous unit, the Royal NSW Regiment (The Rum Corp) as a Private. February 1793 saw him moved to Norfolk Island with the Corps on the ship "Kitty" which departed on 21 January 1793.

On 6 November 1794 James and Rachael (who he had married in 1791 on the island) along with their two children travelled on the "Daedalus" to Port Jackson. The ship arrived back in Sydney on 23 November. He resigned again in October 1799. He was discharged from the company of George Johnson.

In November 1799 he again enlisted and he was again assigned to the Royal NSW Regiment (The Rum Corp) as a Private. By September 1808 he had served 26 years and 234 days and was aged 48 years 6 months. In 1810 he transferred to the 102nd Regiment in the Invalid (later Veteran) Company (Also known as the Royal Veterans). When the NSW Corp was withdrawn from NSW he, wishing to remain in the country, transferred.5,6,8,13

James and Rachael WATKINS lived in Norfolk Island, NSW. Rachael and James were on Norfolk Island until c.1794 when they and their two children Susannah and Ann returned to Sydney. James had earlier acquired the Sydney house located at 28 Cumberland St West Rocks but he sold it on 3 September 1803 for £8 and the family moved to another nearby residence. Researcher Mike V. has observed that "Being a member of the Corps, James and his family would have had certain privileges and opportunities that were beyond the average family".13,14

he died (aged 60) on 16 March 1820 in Sydney. He died while on guard duty at South Head. His age at death has been quoted as 70 but this is inconsistent with other records which suggest his age at death was actually 60.1 He was buried in March 1820 in the Sydney Burial Ground (now the site of Sydney Town Hall) in Sydney. As this cemetery was closed in 1820, he would have been one of the last people interred there before the new cemetery at Strawberry Hills (near Central Railway Station) was commissioned. The funeral service was held at St Phillip's, Church Hill.5,13


James is believed by many researchers to have fathered all of Rachael's children. Almost certainly he was the father of the youngest child (Michael) but no document linking the couple in the 1790s is known to have been found. Surviving documents from 1791 suggest that Rachael was unattached that year. August 1791 would have been the time of conception for Susannah so, whether he really was the father of all or any of the children, excepting Michael, is not really clear but he does appear to have raised them all.8


Rachael WATKINS1 and James WILLIAMS had the following children:


Susannah WILLIAMS (1792-1842)

Ann WILLIAMS (1794-1855)

Sarah WILLIAMS (1796-1830)

Michael Richard WILLIAMS (1802?-1858)


1{S0730}, Internet (Familypedia) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 11 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
2{S0731}, Internet (TheTreeofUs) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) (http :// (Defunct)). Cit. Date: 11 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Text From Source: "Born at Rixham(Wrexham) Denbigh, Wales"
3{S0734}, Internet (Lorayne Mahoney) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 13 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
4{S0728}, Internet (First Fleeters) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 12 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Text From Source: "The U.K., Registers of Duties Paid for Apprentices, 1710–1811, records 8 June 1774 — Daniel Roberts of Wrexham, edge tool maker – Apprentice, James Williams. Unfortunately Daniel Roberts, now or late of Wrexham in Denbighshire, Edge Tool Maker, is in the list of bankrupts published in 'The Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer' Vol. 49 1780"
5{S0729}, Internet (garter1) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 11 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
6{S0728}, Internet (First Fleeters) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 12 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
7{S0732), Internet (MikeV) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) and Associated (http :// (Defunct)). Cit. Date: 11 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
He is listed in the indents of the "Sirius" as John Williams instead of James Williams
8{S0258}, Mailing List Summary (Norfolk Island Ancestors & their Families) : General ( Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
9{S0557}, Mailing List (RootsWeb) : AUS-NORFOLK-IS-L Archives re : WILLIAMS, James (1159). Cit. Date: 7 April 2012. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
10{S0735}, Internet ( - Kay Cusack) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 14 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
11{S0728}, Internet (First Fleeters) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) ( Cit. Date: 11 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Text From Source: " In the Name of God Amen. I James Williams Private Marine onboard His Majesty's Ship Sirius, No. on the Marine List 12, being in bodily health and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and considering the danger and perils of the seas and other uncertainties of this transitory life, do for avoiding controvercies after my decease, make publish and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner following (that is to say). First I recommend my Soul to God that gave it, and my body I commit to the earth or sea, as it shall please God to order, and as for and concerning all my worldly estate, I give bequeath and dispose thereof as followeth, that is to say, all such wages, sum or sums of money whatsoever, as shall be any ways due owing or belonging to me at the time of my decease, for my service onboard His Majesty's Ship Sirius I do give devise and bequeath the same unto my beloved friend William Standley, Private Marine onboard His Majesty's said Ship. And I do hereby nominate and appoint the said William Standley the sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former and other wills, testaments and deeds of gifts by me at any time heretofore made. And I do ordain and ratify these prescents to stand and be for, and as my only last will and testament. Revokable from and in my name, in witness whereof to this my said will, I have set my hand and seal the thirtieth day of August in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and eighty eight, and in the twenty eighth year of the Reign of his Majesty King George the third over Great Britain etc.
Signed, sealed, published and declared in the presence of
Jno. Hunter 2nd Captain Jno. Palmer, Purser. (signature) James Williams "
12{S0534}, Norfolk Island Research Centre KAVHA ( Cit. Date: 29 March 2012. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Centre advises that the date of the mass weddings was 15 Nov 1791
13{S0732), Internet (MikeV) : WILLIAMS, James (1159) and Associated (http :// (Defunct)). Cit. Date: 11 October 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
14{S0501}, Old Registers Nos. 1 - 9 : NSW Colonial History from 1794 - 1824 : WILLIAMS, James (1159). Register 1. Cit. Date: 26 February 2012. Assessment: Primary evidence.
Text From Source: "3rd Sept 1803 : Receipt of £8 for a house & garden situated on West Rocks Sydney called Williams's house from James Williams to Mrs (R/B)apote"

Compiler of this family history is : John Owen


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Updated : 23 August 2014