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William Sheldon

William Sheldon, one of 156 convicts transported on the Medway, 13 November 1820

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: William Sheldon
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1800
Occupation: Brassfounder
Date of Death: 13th December, 1873
Age: 73 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 59 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Felony
Convicted at: Warwick Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Medway
Departure date: 13th November, 1820
Arrival date: 13th March, 1821
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 156 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/3, Page Number 417 (210)
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

AaronRichard on 2nd January, 2015 wrote:

William Sheldon was born around 1800 in Birmingham, England.  As a convict, he was assigned to the Government Farm at Ross.  His conduct record states that on 3 July 1828, he was apprehended at Swan Port, having run away from his convict posting.  However, he was released and given his free certificate, his conduct record stating “Discharged, it appearing he has served the period for which he was transported.”

After this date, he was reportedly the leader of a gang of sheep thieves, operating in the bushland in the area of Oyster Bay.  Famous Danish-born convict adventurer Jorgen Jorgenson was sent to apprehend Sheldon and members of his gang, aided by Norah Corbett.  Corbett was a female convict from Ireland who had been associated with Sheldon’s gang, but who was captured by the authorities and agreed to turn informant and help hunt down the sheep thieves.

Newspaper reports in the Hobart Town Courier suggest that Sheldon and an accomplice had been laying in wait besides a road, hoping to ambush and kill Jorgenson and Corbett, but the impending police action saw them flushed out and returning to hide in the bush on the east coast.

Sheldon was eventually captured, along with many others of his gang, and was brought to Oatlands Gaol on 21 March 1829 under investigation of “divers felonies”.  However, at his trial in May of that year, he was found not guilty of all charges.

The final entries on his conduct record relate to a trial for a felony (not specified) in 1833.  He was fined £2 for breaching the Dog Act.

His life for the remainder of the 1830s is a mystery, until he and his future wife Susannah Robertson are recorded as leaving George Town on the brig “Charlotte” on 8 June 1840, arriving in Port Phillip five days later.  William and Susannah married in Geelong on the 19 December 1842.  They had three sons, James born on 1 April 1841 and twins William and John born 1 November 1843, all born in the region of the Moorabool River.

William died on 13 December 1873, having spent the last thirty years of his life working for the Wallace family at their station “Ballark”. 

His obituary is given in the Geelong Advertiser on Wednesday, December 17, 1873, as follows:  “William Sheldon, an Australian colonist of 53 years standing, died at Eclipse, near Steiglitz, on Saturday last, at the residence of his son.  The deceased was 73 years old and came out to Van Diemen’s Land at the age of 20.  He was 19 years in that colony and 34 years in Victoria.  He had been in the employ of Mrs Wallace, on the Moorabool River Station, for 30 years, and only left at a few weeks previous to his death.”

He was buried in Steiglitz Cemetery.  A number of his descendants still live around Victoria and the rest of Australia today.

AaronRichard on 2nd August, 2020 wrote:

Update: The reason for Sheldon being found “Not Guilty” at the trial in 1829 was that it was a deal in exchange for him turning crown witness and testifying against other livestock thieves.  After 1833 he also spent further time in prison for receiving stolen goods.

D Wong on 2nd August, 2020 wrote:

William Sheldon was listed as 18 years old on arrival.

Place of Birth: Birmingham.

William was 5’3½” tall, dark brown hair and eyes, ASH left arm, scar left side of nose.

Convict Changes History

AaronRichard on 2nd January, 2015 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1800 (prev. 0000), date of death: 13th December, 1873 (prev. 0000), gender: m, crime

D Wong on 2nd August, 2020 made the following changes:


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