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William Yardley

William Yardley, one of 1063 convicts transported on the Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize, December 1789

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: William Yardley
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1757
Occupation: Stationer
Date of Death: 8th December, 1805
Age: 48 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 57 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Burglary
Convicted at: Surrey Assizes
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize
Departure date: December, 1789
Arrival date: 26th June, 1790
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 1071 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 65 (34)
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

D Wong on 27th February, 2015 wrote:

Ron Selden (75) at 1:02pm, 27th February 2015 wrote of William Yardley:

William married another convict Catherine Mary Edwards at Parramatta on the 7-11-1796 and died on his farm at Lower Portland on the 8-12-1805.
It was thought by the Police that his wife and another convict murdered William.

D Wong on 27th February, 2015 wrote:

From: http://www.historyaustralia.org.au/twconvic/3273

William was stationer when he was arrested at the age of 28. His accomplice, John Le Ross?, a jackhitt (sic) maker, was aged 34. William and John were both sentenced to death for the burglary of a linen draper’s shop at 36 Blackman Street, Southwark in south London. They were both reprieved to transportation for life a few days after their initial sentencing. In an appeal against his sentence William stated that he had a wife and elderly father to care for. He further claimed that the evidence against him had been fabricated as he had spent the evening in question (7 October 1785) entertaining a prostitute - Elizabeth WALLIS. Elizabeth swore that she had been drinking with William at the Admiral Vernon public house in London and had spent the night in bed with him. Several other witnesses corroborated that evidence. The trial judge discounted William’s alibi on the basis that other witnesses had reported seeing him and his accomplice John Le Ross? at the scene of the crime as well as the fact that his alibi was supported by testimony from a “common prostitute”.

August 1788 - William was transferred from county gaol to the ‘Ceres’ hulk at Langstone Harbour, Portsmouth.
30 November 1789 - Embarked on the ‘Surprise’ transport
1793 - William was cohabiting with Catherine EDWARDS? from at least this year.
June 1797 - Granted 30 acres at Seven Hills. William lived on this grant until about 1801.
July 1797 - Received a Conditional Pardon.
1800 - William was mustered as having 15 of his 30 acres cleared and cultivated, owning 15 pigs and having a wife and two children on-stores
1801 - Received a grant of land, larger than his Seven Hills grant, at Lower Portland in the Hawkesbury region of NSW
August 1804 - William’s 130 acre land grant was registered at Sussex Reach.
March 1805 - William advertised for sale his Seven Hills farm, eventually selling it to Thomas JONES on 22 June for £35 down with another £35 top be paid within ten months or the land to be resold

8 December 1805 - The Sydney Gazette printed a report on an inquest into William YARDLEY’s death at his farm. The Hawkesbury District coroner reported that he had been burned to death in a house fire which was assumed to have been started by a lightning strike. His wife and children had escaped but he was trapped inside while trying to save some clothing

March 1806 - William’s widow and their convict servant were arrested under suspicion of murdering him and concealing the crime by burning the body in the house. William’s body was exhumed and a head wound (covered by a handkerchief, was discovered on the body and Catherine was, for the following few weeks, subjected to intensive questioning over William’s death.

5 April 1806 - Both Catherine and the servant were released from custody when it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to mount a prosecution.

Sydney Gazette Sun 8 Dec 1805
On Thursday a Coroner’s Inquest assembled at Hawkesbury on the body of William Yardley, a settler down the River, whose death was was occasioned by the following melancholy
circumstances: A considerable time after himself and family were in bed Wednesday night, the house took fire, and burned with such rapidity as to render their escape difficult: he succeeded nevertheless, with his wife’s assistance, in snatching his children from the flames, and then unhappily returned to save some little cloathing, but the roof falling in, he perished in the attempt. The body of the deceased presented a ghastly spectacle to the jurors, whose verdict was appropriate to the event. As the accident of the house taking fire was most unaccountable and mysterious, many people attributed it to the lightning, which was very vivid at the time; but it is a much more probable conjecture that the disaster originated in the rancour of the Branch natives, to whose excesses his activity was a constant curb, and whose hostile inclinations are as manifest as ever. So long as they content themselves with pillaging the settlers’ grounds they experience civility and hospitable treatment: but tiring with this comparative moderation, they rush into acts of open and declared hostility; and it is much to be lamented that possibly from the want of sufficient caution, the first objects of their treachery have too frequently become its easy victims.

Phil Hands on 9th December, 2017 wrote:

Sydney Gazette 9th March 1806
From the observation of persons resident in the neighbourhood of the late unfortunate William Yardley, who was supposed to have perished in the flames by which his habitation was consumed, a suspicion arose that he was destroyed by human hands and the house afterwards set on fire intentionally to conceal the wilful murder. On the first disclosure of the suspicion every probable means of determining it were promptly restored to by Thomas Arndell, Esq. Magistrate at the Green Hills; with who the active aid and perseverance of Mr Thompson, Chief Constable for the district, collected such information as at the present juncture to justify the strong presumption of his inhuman murder; in which we are shocked to state his wife was implicated on strong suspicion, and after undergoing a long examination before Mr Arndell, was committed to the county gaol yesterday fortnight.
A Bench of Magistrates was yesterday convened, before whom a further investigation of this lamentable affair took place; when one principal circumstance in establishing the fact upon evidence appeared, that when the mutilated remains of the deceased were found among the ruins, the head alone remained uninjured by the flames; that the appearance of blood at that time visible about the lower part of the face, which was very reasonably attributed to a violent blow from part of the building falling in upon him; but in consequence of the subsequent suspicion, the interred remains were taken up and more minutely examined; when a handkerchief tied firmly about the head being unbound, discovered to the astonished spectators a large and ghastly aperture in
the skull, which might indeed have been attributed to the above cause, did not the cavity appear to have been filled with cloths, and covered with a bandage, as was also the hair of the deceased, which was very much stained with blood. A man servant to the deceased, also in custody pleaded an alibi, but was, with the woman, sentenced for further examination.

Sydney Gazette 16th March 1806
Mary Yardley and her servant Henry Murray underwent another examination for the suspected murder of the late unfortunate William Yardley.

On 5th April 1806 - Both Catherine and the servant were released from custody when it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to mount a prosecution.

Sydney Gazette 6th April 1806
Mary Yardley, who was confined and underwent examination in consequence of some inexplicable circumstances that attended the death of her late unfortunate husband, was liberated by order of the Bench, as from the strictest enquiry no proof had been adduced to constitute grounds of prosecution.

Phil Hands on 9th December, 2017 wrote:

Sydney Gazette 5th December 1818
Criminal Court,
The next trial was that of Richard Hayman, committed by the Coroner for the suspected murder of his mother-in-law, Mary Yardley, on or about Wednesday the 14th of October last, at Cumberland Reach, Portland Head. The evidence taken upon this trial was to the following effect: that the defendant was the husband of the deceased Mrs. Yardley’s daughter, by whom he had several children, towards his wife and whom he had always envinced the strongest marks of a sincere affection; from causes that none of the witnesses could delevop, Mrs. Yardley (the deceased) had so far disagreed with her son-in-law, (the defendant) as to compel him to leave her house and his won family, who had continued to live with her. On Wednesday the defendant went to Portland Head, from the upper parts of Hawkesbury, and breakfasted in the house of Mrs. Dorrington, which was near to that of the deceased, saying that he was going to cross the river. And was obliged to go so low down for the purpose of getting a boat, as he could not get one higher up. He was under the necessity of passing near Mrs. Yardley’s house; and scarcely left Dorrington’s before she entered, and seemed already agitated, but became much more so on hearing that he had gone that way. They were both seen ascending a steep activity, Mrs. Yardley far distant behind. The defendant dined with his wife and children on that day, but not with the deceased, with whom he had not been seen. He called at several of the neighbouring houses throughout all parts of the day, until four o’clock when he went to Knight’s, close to Yardley’s, & there remained an night; he went away next morning; he had no stick or weapon whatever, and had never been by any person observed to show any marks of agitation or concern, except upon the mention of his separation from his wife and children. His deportment was described to be mild and gentle; that of the deceased passionate and otherwise intemperate. The deceased was afterwards missing from her habitation, but for what space of time did not appear in evidence, and on the morning of the following Sunday was found dead a short distance from her own house, in a state, from which it was evident she had been dead for several days; a severe wound was on the back of the head, and a broken stick laying by her side, with a small stain upon it. The Inquest assembled on Monday morning, and the defendant attended, saying he had been informed by Mr. Howe, of Windsor, of the event. These were the circumstances brought out upon the trial; and as no particle of the evidence could at ah apply to the defendant, he was acquitted without being required to enter on a defence, and ordered to be immediately liberated.

Convict Changes History

Kristy McCarrick on 16th October, 2012 made the following changes:

date of birth 1757, date of death 8th December, 1805, gender, occupation, crime

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