Briggs, William Lieutenant/Captain and Hannah

Full name:

Briggs, William Lieutenant/Captain and Hannah

Dates recorded for being in Berrima:

Feb. 1836 – Oct. 1837

Occupation if known and land ownership:

Superintendent of Convicts, 80th Regiment of Foot

Background:

Military

Lieutenant William Briggs, Berrima’s second Superintendent of Convicts, was born at Warsop in Nottinghamshire in 1893 to John and Sarah Briggs; relatively lowly origins compared with many of his peers in the military.

In 1808 he was commissioned as Ensign in the 4th Regiment of Foot and after a series of attachments, including time spent in Ireland, he joined the 28th Regiment of Foot as a lieutenant in 1822.

When he arrived in Sydney in 1835 with his wife, Hannah (née Baxter), and three children on the Waterloo, he was with the 50th Regiment of Foot.

Initially he was sent to Norfolk Island as the special commissioner appointed to try the prisoners but in February 1836 he took over from Ensign Waddy as Superintendent of Convicts at the stockade.

Regrettably while stationed in Berrima his wife, Hannah, died. She was aged 29, her obituary saying she died after a long and painful illness.[1]

Briggs left Berrima in October 1837 and following other postings was promoted to captain in 1839.[2] In that same year he decided to remain in Australia and took up a pastoral lease on the Macleay River, naming it Sherwood after his original home in England.

He retired from the military in 1840, aged 47, and his service is acknowledged by his fellow officers.

This very meritorious officer, who for a considerable time conducted the duties of the Berrima Stockade so efficiently as to call forth flattering notice on several occasions both from the press and the Legislative Council, has, we understand, retired from the service, and already commenced his career as a settler in the colony. Previous to his departure from Sydney, the officers of the 50th Regiment, in which he served upwards of twenty years, gave him a farewell dinner, and presented him with a handsome piece of plate in, testimony of the high estimation in which he was held by them as a brother officer and a gentleman.’[3]

Briggs died in 1859, leaving three children, Clarence William (1827-65), Anna Maria Sarah (1833–1909) and Frederick Boyne (1833-96).

[1] Sydney Monitor, 28 August 1837

[2] Colonist, 15 May 1839

[3] The Hobart Town Courier and van Diemen’s Land Gazette Sydney Gazette, 3 January 1840