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William Davis

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: William Davis
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1768
Occupation: Publican
Date of Death: 17th August, 1843
Age: 75 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 53 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Political prisoner
Convicted at: Ireland, Kings County
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Friendship
Departure date: 24th August, 1799
Arrival date: 16th February, 1800
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 137 other convicts


Primary source: Catholic Weekly newspaper 20 June 2021
Source description:

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Community Contributions

Eric Harry Daly on 17th January, 2013 wrote:

DAVIS, William. Per “Friendship”, 1800
1809 Jun 9
On list of all grants and leases of town allotments registered in the Colonial Secretary’s Office (Fiche 3268; 9/2731 p.218)
1809 Sep 6
On list of all grants and leases of land registered in the Colonial Secretary’s Office (Fiche 3268; 9/2731 p.184)
1810 Jan 29
Memorials (Fiche 3003; 4/1821 Nos.85A, 85C)
1810 Feb 8
Of Parramatta. Petition for mitigation of sentence (Fiche 3164; 4/1846 p.62)
1810 Jul 21
Issued with licence to retail beer, ale and porter (Reel 6038; SZ758 pp.72-3)
1811 Jan 8, Apr 17
Juror at inquests on John Egan & Sophia Wade held at Sydney (Reel 6043; 4/1726 pp.203, 223)
1811 Mar 6
Received beer licence in Feb 1811 (Reel 6038; SZ758 p.184)
1813 Aug 7
On list of persons holding licences for sale of wine and spirituous liquors (Reel 6038; SZ758 pp.405-7)
On list of convicts who have received absolute pardons [Jan 1814] (Fiche 3292; 4/6974.1 p.77)
1815 Apr 1; 1816 Apr 6
On lists of persons licensed as publicans; for1815 & 1816 at Sydney (Reel 6038; SZ759 pp.54, 192)
1816 Oct
Applying for a carpenter, James Power per “Guildford” (2), to finish a dwelling house in Charlotte Square (Reel 6042; 4/1725 pp.330, 332)
1817 Apr 19
Publican of the Blacksmith’s Arms, Sydney. On list of persons licensed as publicans for 1817; at Sydney (Reel 6038; SZ759 p.340)
1820 May 15
Memorial (Fiche 3017; 4/1823 No.178 p.401)
1820 Sep 18
On list of persons for whom grants of land have been handed over to the Surveyor General for delivery (Fiche 3266; 9/2652 p.58)
1822 Jun 30-1823 Sep 30
On lists of persons to whom convict mechanics have been assigned (Fiche 3296; X53 pp.15, 27, 42, 58, 73)
1822 Sep 27-1823 Sep 26
On list of persons receiving an assigned convict (Fiche 3290, 4/4570D pp.22, 31, 35, 36; Fiche 3291, 4/4570D pp.104, 112)
1823 Feb 23
Memorial (Fiche 3062; 4/1834B No.82 p.507)
1823 Feb 25
Permitted to proceed with cattle and servants through the Cowpastures and Argyle to the country to the southwest of the Cookbundoon Range (Reel 6010; 4/3507 p.364)
1823 Nov 19
Memorial for a ticket of occupation in the County of Argyle and complaining of the conduct of Mr Faithful’s men who drove cattle on to his run (Fiche 3062, 4/1834B No.82A pp.511-4; Reel 6017, 4/5783 pp.478-80 [copy])
1823 Dec 11
Enquiry to William Faithful, Richmond, for explanation of circumstances set forth in Davis’ letter (Reel 6011; 4/3509 p.684)
1824 Jan 26-Aug 31
Memorial (Fiche 3085; 4/1837A No.265 pp.49-58). Replies, 4 & 5 Mar and 23 Jul (Reel 6012, 4/3510 p.436; Reel 6013, 4/3511 p.606 & 4/3512 p.63)
1824 c.Apr
Of Charlotte Place. On list of defaulters in payment for assigned convict mechanics for the quarters ending 31 Dec 1823 and 31 Mar 1824 (Reel 6061; 4/1778 p.265c)
1824 c.Jul
Of Charlotte Place. On account of rents received for assigned convict tradesmen for the three quarters ending 30 Jun 1824 (Reel 6061; 4/1779 p.173b)
1825 Jul 7
Re free passage to New South Wales for Mrs Davis, son & daughter, on security of grant at Charlotte Place (Fiche 3279; 4/989 pp.4-5)

D Wong on 3rd April, 2016 wrote:

William was a publican at Enniscorthy and was mistakenly arrested for being a blacksmith who was making pikes for the rebels, and was 32 years old on arrival in NSW.

C1809: Married Catherine Miles (Fortune and Alexander 1806) they had no children of their own but adopted two children, Elizabeth and Joseph.  Joseph married Margaret Noonan in 1831, they had 3 children, Joseph, Catherine and William. Joseph died in 1835 and Catherine adopted the three children.

William Davis had leased some land and in 1816 he was granted 80 acres in the Campbelltown district and another 120 acres in the same area.
In 1819 William was granted a further 70 acres at Campbelltown.

In 1820 he was granted a license to run a public house – ‘The Fortune of War’ and this was run by Catherine.

15/3/1826 Sydney Gazette:
THE Public are particularly cautioned against, giving Credit to Catherine Davis on my Account,
as I am fully determined not to pay any Debts she may contract on my Credit, she having been allowed by me, a liberal Maintenance, before she departed this Colony for Europe, and I have found since she has a Husband living in or near Mitchell’s-town, in the County of Cork, in Ireland.
William Davis

1/4/1826 Sydney Gazette:
WHEREAS I CATHERINE DAVIS, of Cambridge street, Sydney, arrived in this Colony in
September, 1808, and intermarried with my present Husband, WILLIAM DAVIS, in January, 1809, at Parramatta, by the Rev. Mr. DICKSON, a Roman Catholic Clergyman. The Matrimonial Ceremony was performed in the presence of Thomas Harpur and Sarah Chidley, who are since married and residing at Windsor. At the period I was married to the
said William Davis, he was a Government Man to an Overseer in the Lumber-yard, named Abbott; shortly after my marriage I made application to Colonel PATERSON for a Ticket of Leave for him, which he granted. We having no property at that time, but what we acquired by our daily labours, I made application and obtained a Licence to carry
on a Public-house, which I retained for the term of 12 years, without intermission, and with an unblemished character; and in the interim, obtained his Emancipation; and shortly
afterwards, through my intercession with several respectable Gentlemen now living, obtained for him, from Governor MACQUARIE, his Free Pardon, and from my indefatigable exertions, acquired the property he is now possessed of. I therefore deem it an unprecedented hardship, that the said William Davis should, after a lapse of seventeen years’ residence in this Colony as his lawful Wife, attempt to break through his said Marriage, as during that time there appeared no impediment as to the validity of my Marriage with him, but is now from some unaccountable motives, trying to set it aside, by asserting that I have a husband living in Ireland, which is totally false, for I positively assert that I have not, nor ever had, any other Husband but the said William Davis.
Sydney, March 28, 1826. CATHERINE DAVIS.

They stayed together afterwards and Catherine died in 1839.

William became a wealthy and generous land owner, in 1834 he acquired land adjoining his house in Grosvenor Street, which became the site of St Patricks Roman Catholic Church in Sydney, and in 1838 donated a house to the Sisters of Charity.

17/8/1843: William died in his sleep aged 75, and was buried at Sydney’s Old Burial Ground.

Christine Healey on 5th September, 2018 wrote:

On the 3rd May 1825 Sir Thomas Brisbane had given William Davis permission to take up 1000 acres of land situated in the County of Georginana “at a place known by the native name Beemarang or Swatchfield.

Maureen Withey on 8th July, 2020 wrote:

In the Sydney Burial Ground the tombstone inscription for William Davis stated: “He was one of the last survivors of those who were exiled without the formality of a trial for the Irish political Movement of 1798.”

Maureen Withey on 12th July, 2020 wrote:


William Davis, Friendship 1800, Conditional Pardon, 1 July 1811.  4/4430; Reel 774 Page 054]

Absolute Pardon, 31 Jan 1814.  Received Conditional Emancipation 1 Jul 1811 No 66 . [4/4486; Reel 800 Page 049]

DJ Gleeson on 1st July, 2021 wrote:

On a clear balance of probabilities, Joseph Davis the so called ‘adopted’ son of William Davis was NOT the same Joseph Davis who married Margaret Noonan, daughter of Catherine Miles (Davis) from Catherine’s first relationship in Ireland. Margaret Noonan, b 1805 and Joseph Davis b 1798 married in Ireland in 1825. Their three children were Joseph (1831), Catherine (m Carew) (1833) and William M (1835).

The informally ‘adopted’ Joseph Davis was at least a decade younger, being born in the colony in ca 1809-1812 to another Joseph Davis, whom was unrelated to the original William Davis.

Contrary, also to myth, William Davis was not an innocent blacksmith from Wexford but a native of, and tried at, Parsonstown, Kings County (now Birr, County Offaly)

DJ Gleeson on 1st July, 2021 wrote:

‘Catherine Davis (nee Myles), independent, resourceful, and highly respected, supported the church by housing Frs Jeremiah O’Flynn, John Therry and Philip Conolly at number 1 Charlotte Square (now corner of Harrington and Grosvenor Streets) and being the highest female subscriber to St Mary’s Chapel (Cathedral).

Through Catherine’s efforts, William received the rare privilege of an absolute pardon. Unlike Catholic folklore, William had not been an innocent Wexford blacksmith but a hard core and violent member of the revolutionary United Irishmen in King’s County.

Catherine played a large role in William’s successful businesses and was understandably very disappointed by what became a turbulent marriage. This situation was exacerbated by poor treatment from Fr Therry, who sided with his publican mates, Edmond Redmond, Roger Murphy, Patrick Garrigan, and William Davis.

Fr Therry’s unreconstructed recalcitrant behaviour aside, Catherine Davis was a woman of faith and ‘accepting’ of her imminent death in May 1839. She was buried at the old Devonshire Street graveyard with her daughter, Margaret Noonan (Davis) who had predeceased her. In 1843 William was interred with them.

Catherine and William Davis are shining examples of faith and significant contributions by Sydney’s early Irish.’

Convict Changes History

Eric Harry Daly on 17th January, 2013 made the following changes:

convicted at, term 99 years, voyage, source, firstname, surname, alias1, alias2, alias3, alias4, date of birth 0000, date of death 0000, gender, occupation, crime

Eric Harry Daly on 17th January, 2013 made the following changes:

source, date of death 1843, occupation

Eric Harry Daly on 17th January, 2013 made the following changes:

date of birth 1768, crime

D Wong on 3rd April, 2016 made the following changes:

date of death: 17th August, 1843 (prev. 1843)

Christine Healey on 5th September, 2018 made the following changes:

source: Colonial Secretary Letter 31/1338 (prev. http://members.pcug.org.au http://colsec.records.nsw.gov.au)

DJ Gleeson on 1st July, 2021 made the following changes:

source: See forthcoming scholarly articles on Catherine Miles and William Davis in the leading journal 'Australasian Catholic Record'. (prev. Colonial Secretary Letter 31/1338)

DJ Gleeson on 1st July, 2021 made the following changes:

source: Catholic Weekly newspaper 20 June 2021 (prev. Colonial Secretary Letter 31/1338)

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au