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National Trust of South Australia


Williams, Thomas

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth c. 1790
Place of birth Releath, Cornwall, England.
Date of arrival 1840
Principal occupation Slate merchant, quarryman and farmer
Date of death 1858
Place of decease Willunga, South Australia.

Thomas Williams was born 13 Feb 1790 at Releath, Cornwall, England. Parents: Joseph Williams (1765- ) and Martha (family Trewhela nee Carnsen) (1765-1850). He was a Slate merchant, quarryman, miner and farmer.

Thomas Williams married Honor Wallis (1794 –1876) on 14 Oct 1815 at St. Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall. Religion – Wesleyan Methodist but he is buried in St. Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery. He was a tin miner in the Crowan area for more than twenty years.

Thomas and Honor Williams had thirteen children (four sons and eight daughters). Five of their daughters (Grace, Dorothy, Ann, Mary and Mary Jane) died young before the family emigrated to Australia:

Honor (1815 -1873) b. at Crowan, m. Thomas Marshall senior on 2 Dec 1841 at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide. She died aged 58 years on 26 April 1873, buried Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga Grace (1816- ) b. at Crowan,

Dorothy (1817-1817) b. & d. at Crowan, died as an infant

Jennifer (1818-1906) b. at Crowan, m. Bennett John James (1818-1865) at Crowan, buried Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga

William baptized 23/03/1823 at Crowan, Cornwall. D. before 1854 m. (1st) Maria Humphries on 31/07/1845 m. (2nd) Kezia Williams after 03/1847

Sarah baptized 07/11/1824 m. James Thomas on 31 July 1845 at the house of Mr. Thomas Williams at Willunga

Ann baptized 20/01/1826-d. 06/04/1830 b. & d. at Crowan, died aged 2 years

Mary baptized 29/06/1828-d. 12/03/1832 b. & d. at Crowan, died aged 4 years

Thomas (1830-1896) b. at Crowan, aged 23 years married Hannah Bastian, aged 23 years, (1831-1861) on 10 Nov 1853. Died on 16 June 1896, aged 71 years, at Willunga, buried at Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga

Peter (1832-1914) b. at Crowan, married Johanna Watters (1833-1927) at Wesleyan Mission House at Willunga on 12 April 1856. Died on 07 Oct 1914, aged 82 years, at Goodwood, buried at Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga

Honor Eleanor (1833-1898) (baptized 26/05/1833) Died on 3 Feb 1898, aged 65 years, buried at the Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga

Zacharias (1835-1898) baptized 23 Feb 1835 b. at Crowan, Aged 27 years, married (1st) Mary Jane Watters (Walters?) (1838-1876) at Wesleyan Chapel, Pirie St, Adelaide on 06 Dec1856. Aged 43 years, married (2nd) Elizabeth Elliot, 29 years, (1849-1934) on 16 March 1878 at the Bible Christian Parsonage, Willunga. Died, aged 63 years, at Walleroo on 22 April1898 and buried in Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga.

Mary Jane (1833-1838) b. & d. at Crowan, died aged 6 years

The Williams family lived in Crowan, Cornwall prior to leaving for Australia. Thomes Williams (senior) aged about 50 years arrived on 5 Feb 1840 on board Java with his wife Honor and at least seven (four sons and three daughters) of their surviving children (Honor-25, William-17, Sarah-16, Thomas-10, Peter-8, Honor Eleanor-7 and Zacharias-5). His daughter Jennifer and her new husband Bennett John James also travelled on board Java.

By sometime in 1840 Thomas Williams owned two half town allotments facing St. John’s Terrace in Section 700 (Beltunga) – the front half of lot 280 and the right hand side (Eastern) half of lot 282. Thomas , his wife and seven children were listed as living at Beltunga (Willunga South) in early 1841. Thomas Williams (farmer), his wife and seven children were listed at Willunga in the South Australian Land Returns for 1843. In 1844, Thomas Williams owned and farmed 13 acres of wheat, one quarter acre of maize, one quarter acre of potatoes, fourteen cattle and two pigs.

Thomas Williams was certainly involved in slate quarrying before mid-1842 as he is mentioned in a letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Governor Grey. In late 1842 the government put the Willunga slate quarries out to tender but Williams was not successful instead James Gregor & Co got the tender. On 10 May 1843 James Gregor & Co wrote to the Colonial Secretary complaining that a person living at Willunga, named Thomas Williams, had lately opened a slate quarry within the boundaries marked out by the surveyor. The Commissioner of Crown Lands was directed to warn Thomas Williams from trespassing upon the property of the crown.

On 18 Feb 1846 Sampson Dawe and Thomas Polkinghorne wrote to the Colonial Secretary complaining that some parties were quarrying slate from the waste lands of the Crown without licences. The Commissioner of Police was requested to investigate. The police constable at Willunga reported that one of the quarries was being worked by Thomas Williams who had 4,000 roofing slates and 4,000 rough tiles at his quarry. Williams had been quarrying slate under a timber licence. Williams was allowed to remove the slates he had raised but was expressly forbidden to carry out further quarrying on Crown land.

Thomas Williams then purchased section 1007, an area of 58 acres, for 58 pounds 1 shilling in a land grant dated 17 Nov 1847. He then operated a slate quarry on this land and he was described as a slate merchant in 1850.

In November 1849 Thomas Williams advertised a section of good land, fenced, 3 cottages erected, 2 wells of good water, and other improvements to be let, with a right to purchase. Then in March 1851 a fire broke out on the premises of Mr Thomas Williams, of Willunga, and consumed nine tons of hay besides many bushels of wheat and other grain.

In May 1856 Sampson Bastian (junior) and Thomas Martin purchased 2 rods 5 perches of Section 1007 from Thomas Williams. The balance of section 1007 was sold by Thomas Williams to his sons Peter and Zacharias for 1,000 pounds.

Thomas Williams died on 28 July 1858 aged about 68 years and he is buried in St. Stephen’s Anglican Church Cemetery in Willunga.


  • Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum
  • South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
  • South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937
  • South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972
  • SA Census 1841
  • Williams John L. 1987. Family History of Zacharias Williams (1835-1898
  • SA 1841 Census returns State Library of South Australia pp.255-6
  • SA State Records GRG 24/5/1842/612
  • South Australian Register 15 Nov 1849:2
  • Adelaide Times 15 March 1851:6

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