This is a collage of three views of Sydney Cove; in the centre is a view from c.1788 and the photos on the left and right cover the same place in modern times. William
would be impressed...
The new colony did not prosper and between the years 1788 and 1790 the available food supplies dwindled. The soil around Sydney Cove was very sandy and did
not support sustained agricultural use. Governor Phillip ordered more exploration of the area and as the new settlers travelled west down the Parramatta River,
they found much better land in the area now called Rose Hill, near what was to be later the City of Parramatta. Because the settlers had largely ignored the local
Aboriginals' ways of gathering food, starvation was a real threat particularly as there had been no further ships arriving from England with much needed supplies.
The Governor ordered that 280 people be sent to Norfolk Island to relieve the burden on Sydney Town's supplies.
In early October 1788, the First Fleet flagship HMS Sirius was sent to the Cape of Good Hope colony to obtain more supplies while in Sydney it was found that seed
supplies were bad and those that were planted, failed to thrive. Everyone's rations were reduced, almost to starvation levels. It was not until mid year 1790 that a
major supply of food arrived by way of the vessels of what became known as the Second Fleet.
Unlike those in Tasmania, the convict records for New South Wales have not been kept in the large number or
range as are those of the Van Diemen's Land convicts. There have been recorded instances of deliberate removal
and destruction of individual and bulk records, usually to protect the reputations of individuals or the sensibilities
of the good citizens of Sydney..."that their preservation is any longer necessary or desirable, we would recommend
that ... they should be burnt under the supervision of an officer to be appointed by the Government." (2).
This is one of the reasons we can only guess at the life that William had in Sydney in the first couple of years. He
is known to have a trade, plasterer and he could have worked at the first Government House with these skills,
there being very few other buildings in the early colony which would have had plastered walls.
William would have been well aware that most of his seven years' sentence had already been served by the time
he was landed at Sydney Cove and he was sensible enough not to let bad behaviour stand in his way to freedom.
There was an obvious need to clear the land in the immediate area around the cove and the adjacent area we
now call The Rocks so his trade may have been ignored and he just laboured at the many tasks required.
Whatever work it was that William took on, he must have come under the eye of the authorities as a person who
was industrious and trustworthy and that led to his appointment to the first Night Watch set up in Sydney Town.
The Night Watch met the requirments of Governor Phillip to protect the precious food stores then available in
Sydney Town and to take over the role of law and order from the military after sunset each night. This body of
men was in effect, Australia's first police force and probably enabled William to formerly become a Constable of
Police much later on.