Richards, William Frederick (Mounted Police)

Date of Birth/Death:


William Frederick Richards was a mounted police constable who was stationed at Court House and Police Station, Willunga from around 1854 to 1856. He was the second son of William and Esther Richards. The family lived in Penzance in Cornwall until they decided to emigrate to South Australia. Unfortunately, the ship in which they travelled was ”Java”, and William Frederick’s father, William, is known for the journal  he wrote detailing the privations and deaths that occurred on the 1840 voyage. William Frederick was around 16 years of age at the time.

In South Australia, William Frederick became a tailor trading out of Angaston. He then joined the Mounted Police and served in Gawler. He also served on the Gold Escort to Victoria. He was then transferred to Willunga, where he was promoted to Corporal on February 1, 1854. The Courthouse and Police Station building was finished in 1855. Unfortunately for the local community, Governor MacDonnell decided that this new building would be the place for an Irish Immigrant Women’s Depot. The Women’s Depot caused considerable controversy and was discontinued after about 6 months.  William was made the bailiff of the Willunga Court in February 1856. After serving for over 2 years there with Mounted Constable John Shaw,  he was posted once again to Gawler.

William later left the police force and became a baker. He married Sarah Jane Keates at the Chapel, Bentham St, Adelaide on 8 August 1858. William and Sarah had 9 children, namely: Laura Jane (b. 1859),

Caroline Sara (b. 1861),

William Frederick (b. 1863), Ada Workman (b. 1865),

Louisa Esther (b. 1868),

Frederick Francis Watts (b. 1870),

Elizabeth Emily (b. 1872),

Ernest Alfred (b. 1874), and

Elisia Oliver (b. 1877).

William died on 24 September 1893 and was buried in Willaston Cemetery.


Diary of Voyage of Java. William Richards. State Library of South Australia. D 4718/1

GRG5/16 – Mounted Police Conduct Book, State Records of South Australia

1856 ‘GOVERNMENT GAZETTE‘, Adelaide Times, 20 February, p. 2, viewed 03 Jan 2024

Steiner, M (2009), Servants Depots in Colonial South Australia, Wakefield Press, Adelaide.


1893 ‘Family Notices’South Australian Chronicle, 30 September, p. 4, viewed 03 Jan 2024

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