William Johnson

William Johnson was one of 219 convicts aboard the convict transport Waterloo (ex Cape Packet) when she sank in rough seas off the Cape of Good Hope. 143 of Johnson’s fellow transportees perished in the sea. Transported for stealing seven cartloads of sugar, Johnson later worked for George Gellibrand at South Arm. William arrived on the Cape Packet 24 November 1842. He was aged 23, single and a labourer. He had one other offense of drunkenness when sentenced for warehouse breaking. He was transported with Henry Green for the same offence. William was 23 with a fresh complexion, dark brown hair and brown eyes. His general conduct was stated as very good and specially recommended. His conduct sheet however tells a different story! Many entries state absent without leave or absconding which he received 50 lashes for. He was often drunk and received seven days solitary confinement for refusing to work and once made a false plea of sickness.

William received a ticket of leave on 13 November 1849 but received 14 days hard labour in the house of correction on 25 August 1852 for refusal to obey command of his master. He received a certificate of freedom on 25 October 1852 and then received another 3 months hard labour for being idle and disorderly. William seems to have had a run of bad luck with wives. There were at least three. He applied to marry Ellen Williams of the Hindostan on 21 April 1845; this marriage was approved but not registered. Something must have gone wrong because he applied to marry Mary Ann Gillet 27 July 1846 and that marriage was registered on 15 August 1846 in Launceston. Mary was 24 and William 34. They had a son called Thomas. Perhaps something happened to Mary because there is another application to marry Christina McKay of a free William Johnson, of the same age, in April 1854. Christina died in service and an inquest was held on December 3rd 1867 stating natural causes. If this is the same William he wasn’t having a good run. Ages often vary across the records depending on what may suit the circumstances in some cases. Going by his conduct record William would have been born about 1819. Colonial Tasmanian family links has two possible deaths for William Johnson, one born 1820 died at Green ponds Tasmania in 1887 aged 67 and one born 1818 who died in Launceston in 1888. Though they could be the same man, as the Launceston William had a wife, Elizabeth who appears to be much older (could be misprint) but her William died before her in 1887.

Convict Records: CON33/1/30 Image 112, CON14/1/18 Image 58-59, CON18/1/26 Image195.
Female Convicts Research Group (Tasmania)
Wreck of the Waterloo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo_(ship))