* The Records of The Old Bailey September 1789
*WILLIAM DAVIS on condition of transportation for life, which he
refused, the court addressed him as follows:
Prisoner at the bar, I think it is my duty to state to you the very
perilous situation in which you now stand; you have been convicted of
an offence, for which, by the laws of your country, you have forfeited
your life; but by the indulgence of a very kind sovereign, that life
has been spared, to give you an opportunity of becoming a better man,
in a differnet situation. I will, for one moment, throw aside the
character of the Judge, for the Judge should, in his private capacity,
be a friend to the unfortunate; at present, I address you, therefore,
not as a judge, but as a friend to an unfortunate man; and recommend it
to you most sincerely, not to throw away that life which you have now
an opportunity of saving. Having given you that advise as a friend to
a man in a most lamentable situation, I shall now resume the character
of the Judge; and tell you, that the administration of the justice of
this country will not be sported with by men of your description; and
if you do not accept the terms of the King's Pardon, I shall order you
for immediate execution; having given you this fair notice, I leave you
to decide for yourself; but that decision must be made now, because you
will not exist perhaps two days; perhaps not one, after your refusal.
WILLIAM DAVIS - Death is more welcome to me than this pardon.
COURT - Will you accept it?
WILLIAM DAVIS - I will not.
COURT - Take him back to the condemned cells, and I shall sign a
warrant of execution, as soon as I settle with the Sheriffs, to
prepare for that purpose.
By order of the court , the following three prisoners were also
brought up again, WILLIAM DAVIS, Edward Crowther, Thomas Chaffey, and
set to the bar.
COURT: Prisoners, I have sent for you in hopes that the example of the
other prisoners, who have been brought up for their sentence, and
received the King's pardon, might induce you to spare your own lives. I
think it my duty now to state to you, that the sessions will in a very
few moments be closed upon you; when the sessions are closed you will
be ordered for immediate execution; and it will be too late for you to
change your mind on this dreadful subject; I have only therefore to
recommend to you, once more, to think of your situation, which to you
must be sudden destruction, if you do not accept of the terms of the
King's pardon; you can have no other chance of saving your lives.
The three prisoners refused and were ordered to the cells.
(28 October 1789 - Old Bailey) These three prisoners who had been
capitally convicted at former sessions, and at the last sessions (the
above transcript) refused his Majesty's pardon, and were ordered for
immediate execution, were again brought up, and received the said
pardon, on condition of being transported for life, viz. William Davis,
Edward Crowther and Thomas Chaffey.
William Davis was transported for Life and arrived in Australia on
board the convict ship 'Nile'.
** "The Founders of Australia, Biography Directory" by Mollie Gillan
Thomas Fincey on a Queensborough lot (Norfolk Island) with 66 rods
cleared and 5 rods timber felled, shared a sow, provided by government,
with William Davis and Jane Reid, to free them from dependence on
stores for meat by June 1792.
*** War Office Records - Reel 3906 WO12/9900
William Davis was enlisted into the NSW Corp by Captain Rowley at
Norfolk Island on 1 May 1800 (from the War Office Records Reel 3906.
His personal details at time of enlistment were: Age 39.9 years. Height: 5ft 7.5inches. From Kirkudbright, Galoway, Scotland.
Complexion fair, eyes Grey, Hair Dark Brown, Visage Round.
****"The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of Australian History"
Two notable events involving the NSW Corp occurred during Williams
time of service. Firstly there was the convict rebellion called the
Castle Hill Uprising of 5 March 1804 in which the NSW Corp, under the
command of George Johnston, intercepted the convicts near Toongabbie,
capturing two of the leaders, then opened fire, killing nine convicts
and wounding others. this led to martial law being proclaimed from 5
to 10 March. Second was the Rum Rebellion on 26 January 1808, this was
the overthrow of William Bligh, the Governor of the Colony. Again this
was led by George Johnston who declared himself Lieutenant-Governor and
controlled the colony until July when Foveaux took control. It was
partly as a result of this action that the NSW Corp was recalled/
disbanded in 1817. It is almost certain that William would have
participated in both of these events.
William was discharged (on the casualty list) , after ten years service
, on 24 April 1810. During his service William was sick for the
equivalent of over two years. His pension commenced on 25 May 1810.
LAND GRANTS - William Davis
William Davis received two land grants between 1816 and 1832. One was
for 80 acres the other for 120 acres both were for land at Airds near
The 1816 grant was made by Lt Governer Lachlan Macquarie on the 10 June
1816 to be taken up by the 28th June 1821. the witnesses to the grant
were H.G. Antell and Charles Whalan. The description of the grant was:-
Bounded on the SW by the Grangers Farm on the NW by N 8 Chain.. On the
NE by Barrets Farm bearing SE 37 chain to the creek and on the SE by
The conditions of both grants were the same:- Not to sell or vacate the
same for a period of 5 years from the date hereon and to cultivate 10
acres within this said farm and reserving to the government the rights
of making a public road through the farm and also reserving for the use
of the crown such timber as may be deemed fit for naval purposes.
WILLIAM DAVIS' WILL
I William Davis of the district of Airds in the County of Cumberland
Former being of sound mind, memory and understanding do make public and
declare this to be my last will and testament in manner and form
following: First I give devise and bequeath all my real estate and all
which may be found there on at the time of my decease to my dear son
William subject and chargeable neverlefts to the gracly payment of
seventy pounds to be paid half yearly and to the use and support of my
wife Anne Davis so long as she shall live provided she may prefer
living away from my family, but in case she may continue the care and
protection of my children and reside with them on my farm, then the
seventy pound shall not be paid but the sum of ten pound per annum only
, which she shall receive during her natural life to buy clothes and in
addition to her support as remunation for her attention and faithfull
service to the needs and comforts of my aforesaid son William and my
daughters Jane and Sarah whose support shall also be chargeable to my
said real estate until they attain the respective ages of live 18 and
no longer or sooner if they be married.
Secondly, I give and bequeath all cattle, pigs and sows I now possess
at the time of my decease with all the increases of theirs to my dearly
beloved three children William, Jane and Sarah to be equally divided
share and share alike, but which shall remain on the farm subject to
the control and management of my executors herein after named who shall
have power to dispose of any part of my children's stock of cattle and
to appropriate the money to discharge incumberances incurred for my
childrens use to purchase land for the joint or seperate use or on the
most and satisfactory security. But it is my will and devise that the
earnings of my farm shall be continued under the superintendance of my
son William for the mutual interest and comfort for all my family as it
has henceforth been done by me until either or both of my daughters
shall marry or attain the respective ages of 18 years and it is my will
that no part of their stock be disposed of unless to discharge certain
debts that may incur for the joint use and benefit of my three children
or that increase of stock exceeds the covvient of adjusting them.
It is further my will that in case my said daughters one or either of
them shall marry previously to their attaining the respective ages of
18 years and that then husbands should be of the upward ages of 41
years then that their respective shares be given to their husbands
whose receipt shall be my executors discharge.
Thirdly, I give and bequeath all my personal estate of whatever
description or denomention whatsoever which I have now or may be in
possession at the time of my decease to my son William and my daughters
Jane and Sarah share and share alike subject to the payment of all my
just debts and my funeral expenses and subject also to the costs and
management of my executors until the children shall reach the age of 18
years when my personal share shall be distributed and divided and the
child who shall marry shall take his or her share for his or her
personal use and benefit. I also give Dicky my favourite horse to my
son William for the use of my family as long as he shall be of service
and they remain together and afterwards for the sole use and benefit of
my said son. And lastly I do nominate constitute and appoint Mr William
Sykes of Appin and Mr Thomas Hammond of Airds to be my executors of
this My last will and testament to hense I have subscribed my hand and
offered my seal this fifth day of November in the year of our Lord One
Thousand Eight Hundred and TwentyTwo.