Sir W. F. Williams


The Sir W. F. Williams was a Clipper of the Black Ball line operated primarily out of Liverpool in England. Her tonnage has been reported as 869 tons. (Source: The Tasmanian Daily News) Known voyages follow.

V. Date Departure Location Date Arrival Location Notes
(1) 11/09/1856 Liverpool, England 02/12/1856 Hobart, Van Diemen's Land Transported 341 Bounty Immigrants, 6 died during the journey and 5 within days of landing. (Source: The Tasmanian Daily News 3 Dec 1856)
(2) 28/05/1857 Liverpool, England 18/08/1857 Hobart, Van Diemen's Land Transported 244 Bounty Immigrants (Source: The Mercury 19 Aug 1857 and The Courier 02 Sep 1857)
(3) 00/06/1858 London, England 20/09/1858 Hobart, Van Diemen's Land Journey of 84 days. (Source: The Cornwall Chronicle 22 Sep 1858)


The arrival of the ship in 1856 was reported in The Tasmanian Daily News on 3 December 1856.

ARRIVED. Dec. 2. Sir W. F. Williams, ship, 869, Rees, from Liverpool, 11th September, with general cargo. Passengers,. Mr. J. G. Williams, Dr. Hardy, and 335 steerage. Mail, 1 bag, 2 parcels. Agents, Kerr, Bogle, and Co.1

By February 1857 some were questioning what appeared to be a higher than average mortality rate among passengers on the vessel.


To the Editor of the Tasmanian Daily News.

Sir, I understand that a very unusual number of immigrants by the above-named vessel have died since her arrival in this port. This is a fearfully lamentable fact, if true, and I wish to inquire through the medium of your invaluable journal, whether such is the case? And if so, whether the Government have ordered any enquiry under the "Passenger Act 1852," to be instituted in the matter? I am aware that a coroner's inquest has been held upon the body of one of the deceased passengers, but that is not enough. There must be an official investigation into the cause of so frightful a mortality before the public will be satisfied. It appears to me that the existing Government of this colony are not only extremely supine upon matters, of vital moment, but really that no vigilance what ever is exercised towards British subjects landing on these shores by them. Had such a dreadful fact as that which I have mentioned occurred at the Cape of Good Hope or at Melbourne the authorities of each of those ports would never have rested until the actual cause were ascertained. A Government, Sir, exists for the benefit of society, and therefore every dereliction of duty on the part of that Government should be visited with the public condemnation.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant.

Jan. 30th.

We have taken steps to ascertain to what extent the above statements are borne out by facts. We happen to know of five who died within a few days after her arrival in port. These, with the six that died during the voyage, in themselves constitute a very large mortality out of 341 passengers. — Ed. T.D.N.2

The arrival of the ship later in 1857 with a new cache of passengers was reported in The Hobart Town Mercury on Wednesday 19 August 1857.


Br the arrival of the Sir W. P. Williams from Liverpool, 27th May, we are in possession, through the polite attention of Captain Rees, of English journals to that date.3

The arrival of the ship in 1858 was reported in the The Hobart Town Daily Mercury on Tuesday 21 September 1858.

THE SIR W.F. WILLIAMS. This magnificent ship arrived in Harbour yesterday, after an excellent run from the Downs, of 84 days. Capt. Ross reports the arrival of the Wellington, Harrowby, and Aurora Australis, from this port. The Sir W. F. Williams brings a large miscellaneous cargo, and 9 passengers, but no immigrants, as we supposed she would from the English papers.4


An example of a vessel very similar to the Sir W. F. Williams is the James Baines, pictured below, one of the Black Ball Line of Australian Packets belonging to Messrs James Baines and Co, Liverpool.

The Clipper Ship James Baines
The Clipper Ship James Baines
Wikimedia Commons

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