John Williams, Convict Scarborough 1788

John Williams  was first on the Charlotte, he was then transferred to the Scarborough before the first fleet left England. He was tired Bodmin, Cornwall on 18 Aug 1783  for stealing 1 cotton gown and other goods.; receiving a sentence of death which was commuted to 7 years transportation.

John arrived on Norfolk Island in Mar 1788, aboard HM Supply. He drowned on 6 Aug 1788 whilst on way out to HM Supply on her return journey to Norfolk Island the boat he was in was swamped and he lost his life along with three others –  James CunninghamLaurence Tomlinson, and William Westbrook.

(Despatch No. 7, per H.M. Ship Sirius to the Cape of Good Hope; acknowledged by Rt. Hon. W. W. Grenville, 19th June, 1789.). Sydney Cove, Port Jackson,
My Lord, 28th September, 1788.
Extracts from my letters by the ships which sailed in July accompany this letter, and I have now the honor of informing your Lordship that the Supply sailed for Norfolk Island the 17th of July, and returning the 26th of August, brought me the following particulars from the Commandant of that island. He says that immediately after being landed they proceeded to clear ground sufficient for building huts for themselves and a storehouse, the whole island not affording a single acre free from timber. They were landed on the south-west end of the island, a rough sketch of which I received from that officer, and have the honor of enclosing your Lordship. The bay in which they landed is sheltered by a reef of coral rock, through which there is a passage for a boat, but which, with the tide of flood when the wind is westerly, makes the landing dangerous; and a midshipman who was ordered to lay within the reef, in order to attend the boats coming on shore, imprudently letting the boat drive into the surf, was lost with four men. This was the second time the boat had been overset with that midshipman in her, and the first time one man was lost.[1]

Philip Gidley King noted in his Journal the surf was dangerous and a flowing tide, the surge ‘broke into the boat and overset her … the boat drove out to sea & was lost’.[2]

Norfolk Island landing Place 1788

Image: Monument for First Landing Party site March 1788, Kingston Norfolk Island

[1] HRA, Series 1, volume 1, p. 70.

[2] Philip Gidley King, Journal of Philip Gidley King : Lieutenant, R.N. 1787-1790.

Cite this article as: Cathy Dunn, 'John Williams, Convict Scarborough 1788', Australian History Research,, accessed [insert current date]
Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • email