Williams, Thomas

Date of Birth/Death:


Thomas Williams was born 13 February 1790 at Releath, Cornwall, England, the son of 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 October 1815 at St Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall. Religion – Wesleyan Methodist but he is buried in St Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery, Willunga. 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) born at Crowan, Cornwall, married Thomas Marshall senior on 2 December 1841 at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide. She died aged 58 years on 26 April 1873, and was buried in the Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church Cemetery in Willunga
  • Grace baptised 17 November 1816 – born at Crowan, Cornwall
  • Dorothy (1817-1817) born and died at Crowan, Cornwall as an infant
  • Jennifer (baptised 22 November 1818-1906) born at Crowan, Cornwall, married Bennett John James (1818-1865) at Crowan on 8 October 1837, buried Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church Cemetery in Willunga
  • Eleanor baptised 26 May 1822 at Crowan, Cornwall
  • William baptised 23 March 1823 at Crowan, Cornwall. Thought to have died before 1854, and believed to have married (1st) Maria Humphries on 31 July 1845; (2nd) Kezia Williams after March 1847
  • Sarah baptised 7 November 1824, married James Thomas on 31 July 1845 at the house of Mr Thomas Williams at Willunga
  • Ann baptised 30 January 1826 born and died at Crowan, Cornwall aged 4 years
  • Mary baptised 29 June 1828-12 March 1832 born and died at Crowan, died aged 4 years
  • Thomas (junior) (baptised 31 January1830-1896) born at Crowan; married aged 23 years to Hannah Bastian, aged 23 years, (1831-1861) on 10 November 1853. Died on 16 June 1896, aged 71 years, at Willunga, and buried at Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga
  • Peter (1832-1914) born at Crowan, married Johanna Watters (1833-1927) at Wesleyan Mission House at Willunga on 12 April 1856. Died on 7 October 1914, aged 82 years, at Goodwood, buried at Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga
  • Honor Eleanor (1833-1898) (baptised 26 May 1833 at Crowan, Cornwall). Died on 3 February 1898, aged 65 years, buried at the Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga
  • Zacharias (1835-1898) baptised 23 February 1835 at Crowan, Corwnall. Married aged 27 years (1st) Mary Jane Watters (Walters?) (1838-1876) at Wesleyan Chapel, Pirie St, Adelaide on 6 December 1856. 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 Wallaroo on 22 April 1898 and buried in Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church in Willunga.
  • Mary Jane (1833-1838) born and died at Crowan, Cornwall aged 6 years

The Williams family lived in Crowan, Cornwall prior to leaving for Australia. Thomas Williams (senior) aged about 50 years arrived on 5 February 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 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 February 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 November 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.


Parish Registers of Crowan, Cornwall 1691-2000, Family Search, https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/41786?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum, https://maritime.history.sa.gov.au/research-types/passengers-in-history/

South Australia Census 1841, Index for GRG 24/13 Census Returns – 1841 Census

FamilySearch – Returns of Census compiled in January 1841 GRG24/13

Genealogy SA, https://genealogysa.org.au/

Williams, Lorna and  John Llewellyn, Family History of Zacharias Williams 1835-1898 and his wives Mary Jane Watters and Elizabeth Elliot also Thomas and Honor Williams,  Williams Family History, Beulah, Victoria, 1988

State Records of South Australia, Colonial Secretary’s Office, Drafts of letters sent, GRG 24/5 1842 number 612

1845 ‘UNNECESSARY INQUESTS.’, South Australian Register, 13 August, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27450722 [Married – Williams/Thomas]

1849 ‘Advertising’, South Australian Register, 17 November, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50245163 [To be Let, With Right to Purchase]

1851 ‘Advertising’, South Australian Register, 7 March, p. 3. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38438373 [Fire at Willunga]

1851 ‘SKETCHES OF THE PRESENT STATE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA.’, South Australian Register, 3 June, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38438439 [A Flood of Rain]

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