William Rhodes was born in Ferrybridge in the parish of Ferry Fryston, Yorkshire about 1820. He was baptised at St Andrews Church on 25 December 18201. His parents were Joseph Rhodes, a carpenter and Frances Wilkinson. He was the fourth born of seven children, who were all born in Ferrybridge.
Ferrybridge, Bridge, Yorkshire. Completed in 1804. Photo Google Panoramia contributor Kellybear
William’s profession was a sawyer when he married Mary Hill on 29 March 1841 in Rothwell, in the parish of Holy Trinity, Yorkshire2. According to the 1851 Census for Leeds3, William aged 30, was living with his wife Mary aged 28 and 2 children George aged 9 and William aged 6.
William’s first conviction at the York Assizes was in 18484 for breaking into the dwelling of Thomas Waite and stealing 12 stones weight of lead. He was imprisoned in Leeds for 1 year with hard labour.
For his second offence in 18515 William was “charged for that he, on the 1st day of April last, at the Borough of Leeds, in the West Riding, did feloniously break and enter the shop of Henry Blakeborough, and steal therefrom three gold watches, ten silver watches, thirty gold rings, three gold watch- guards, four gold chains, four gold keepers, two silver watch-guards, one silver coral, one gold locket, one jewel-case, two ring-cases, one silver chain, one silver-plated chain and divers other goods, his property.”
William was sentenced to 10 years6 imprisonment and was to be transported to Australia. He was initially imprisoned at Wakefield, but was then moved to Dartmoor Prison in November 1851. He remained there until being moved to Portland Prison in August 18527 and in November 1852 was transported to Western Australia on the ship Dudbrook8, which arrived in Fremantle in February in 1853.
The convict register described him as a Sawyer who was married with 2 children. He was 5ft. 21/2 ins. tall with brown hair and hazel eyes, an oval face with a swarthy complexion and stout in build. He was scarred on his eyebrows and had a mole on his right eyebrow.
William was granted a ticket of leave on the 1st March 18549 and a conditional pardon on the 27th June 186010. He did not petition for his wife and children to be brought out to Australia and although abandoned by him without means of support, the 1861 UK Census has Mary working as a dressmaker in Leeds11. Her son George is living with her and working as a cloth dresser, along with another son Alfred, who is 4 years old. Mary describes herself as widowed.
Mary and her son Alfred can be seen living together in the next three censuses. During that time, at the age of 20, Alfred is baptized with his father recorded as Rhodes12. We know that William Rhodes had been transported to Australia in 1852 for 10 years, so it’s not possible that Alfred was his son, born abt 1856. However, when Alfred married in 1892, his father is recorded as William Rhodes, Sawyer13.
William married for a second time in Perth 1860 to Mary Real14 a 19 year old Irish domestic servant from Limerick who arrived in Fremantle on the ship Western Australia in October 1859. The couple then settled in Gingin, Western Australia for a few years. In November 1868, William applied for land in the Swan District comprising Lot 522, 43 Acres. However, this was forfeited in January 187015. The Herald Western Australian Almanack from 1870/73/74/75 has William listed as a Sawyer in Gingin16.
During this time, William and Mary produced ten children; William James 1861, Frances 1863, Joseph 1865, Sarah Ann 1867, Mary Jane 1869, Louisa 1871, Florence Elizabeth 1874, Clara Matilda 1876, George 1879, Ethel Maude 1885. All except their last child were born in either Gingin or neighbouring Bindoon. Ethel Maude, the youngest child, was born in Sawyers Valley, which means the family moved to Sawyers Valley between 1879 and 1885.
Sawyers Valley was established as a pit sawyer’s settlement in the 1860’s. Lacey’s Steam Mill was established in 1882 and provided timber for the Fremantle Jetty. Nearby Mt Helena, formerly White’s Mill, was established in 1882 to provide sleepers for the construction of the railway line. The mill also provided timber for the construction of Woodbridge House in Guildford and the interior of St Georges Cathedral in Perth.
William died aged 61 years in the Colonial Hospital, Perth on 18 Sep 1891. The cause of death was noted as Retention and Cystitis (renal failure). He was buried in the Church of England section at East Perth Cemeteries on 20 Sep 1891, grave number 682.
In his will, William left all his “real and personal estate property and effects to my dear wife Mary Rhodes”. She was also appointed sole executor17. In December of 1891, Mary petitioned to be registered as the proprietor of land in Perth owned by William, comprising the “North West Quarter of Town Lot W 5618“. This Lot was close to Weld Square near Pier and Mangles (now Newcastle) Street, Perth.
Mary continued to live close to some of her children in Mt Helena (formerly White Mill, prior to a name change to Lion Mill) until 1903. By 1905 she had purchased a property in Hubert St, Guildford, where she remained until her death in 1920. © Maggie Speak 2019
1. West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; New Reference Number: WDP95/1/2/; https://ancestry.com
2. West Yorkshire Archive Service; Leeds, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; Reference Number: RDP91/3/7; https://ancestry.com
3. 1851 England Census; Class: HO107; Piece: 2319; Folio: 592; Page: 29; GSU roll: 87542-87544; https://ancestry.com
4. & 5. Explore York Libraries and Archives; Calendar of Prisoners, York Quarter Sessions; Y/ORD/1/1/- 1842-1851; https://findmypast.com.au
6. England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892; Class: HO 27; Piece: 98; Page: 376; https://ancestry.com
7. Millbank Prison Registers: Male Prisoners. Volume 5 Series HO24; Page 190; https://findmypast.com.au
8. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 Class: HO 11; Piece: 17; https://ancestry.com
9. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930 Receipts and Discharges, 1855 – 1859 (RD1 – RD2) ACC 1156/R&D1-R&D2; https://ancestry.com
10. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930 Stamp Books, 1857 – 1864 (S1 – S3); ACC 1156/S1-S3; https://ancestry.com
11. 1861 England Census; Class: RG 9; Piece: 3374; Folio: 79; Page: 27; GSU roll: 543122; https://ancestry.com
12. West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910; West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; New Reference Number: RDP68/3A/23; https://ancestry.com
13. West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935; West Yorkshire Archive Service; Leeds, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; Reference Number: RDP16/30/13; https://ancestry.com
14. Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950; Registration Number 1521; https://www.bdm.justice.wa.gov.au
15. Western Australia, Australia, Land Leases, Licences, Applications and Selected Images, 1821-1938: Page 73; https://ancestry.com
16. Herald Western Australian Almanacks; https://encore.slwa.wa.gov.au/iii/encore/record/C__Rb2072512?lang=eng
17. William Rhodes Will; State Records Office WA; AU WA S34 – cons3403 1891/1066; https://archive.sro.wa.gov.au
18. WA Government Gazette No 62 Thursday December 31 1891; Page number 974; https://www.slp.wa.gov.au
19. Map of Perth Lot W 56; https://archive.sro.wa.gov.au