Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Notes from mc2 - William Roberts & Kezia Brown

William Roberts was born in the Cornwall region possibly in 1755. Little is known about his life in England.[Later research has shown that, before his arrest, that William Roberts married Mary Russell in Heston, Cornwll, in 1778 and they had three children. ]

At Bodmin Assizes in August 1786 William Roberts was charged with stealing five pond and half weight of yarn, property of Wm Moffatt of Launceston resulting in a sentence of 7 years transportation. He was taken to the hulk, Dunkirk moored in Plymouth Harbour where he was kept with other prisoners until he was transferred initially to the convict ship Charlotte and finally to the convict ship Scarborough during March 1787. On the 13th May, 1787 the ships of the First Fleet left for Botany Bay.

Kezia Brown was born in Severn Stock, Worcester, in 1771, the daughter of Aaron and Mary Brown (nee Farley).

c 1779 Kezia left home and headed to Gloucester where she worked as a labourer in a garden belonging to James Wheeler. When she contracted smallpox she was was allowed to stay in the house to recover. On 20th August 1789 she left the house, taking with her items of clothing possibly belonging to the family of her employer. She was tried in Gloucester and sentenced to seven years transportation to New South Wales aboard the Neptune, part of the Second Fleet, arriving at Sydney Cove on 28th June, 1790.

In September 1791, William, the first son of William Roberts and Kezia Brown was baptised. A daughter, Mary, was born in June 1793. In August 1793, William Roberts and Kezia Brown were married at St Phillip's Church, Sydney, after the expiration of William's sentence suggesting that he may have been married in England.

Early records are unclear but William Roberts may have received a grant of 30 acres of land near Sydney in 1794. In 1796 he received a grant of 50 acres of land near Windsor which he let. He later purchased land from Thomas Hobby which was part of the property farmed by the family in the Windsor area until the 1950s.

William Roberts died at Richmond, NSW on 14 February 1820.
Kezia Brown died at Richmond, NSW on 26 June 1854.

William and Kezia had ten children: -
  • William 1791 - 1863
  • Mary 1793 - 1863
  • Sarah 1875 - 1815
  • James 1798 - 1877
  • John c1801 - 1880
  • Robert 1803 - 1873
  • Maria 1805 - 1868
  • Harriet c1807 - 1857
  • Ann 1809 - 1876
  • Edward 1813 -1890
Mary Roberts married Richard Holland.

In 1988 the William Roberts and Kezia Brown Family Association Inc published a two volume work -
A Rich Inheritance: William Roberts and Kezia Brown - their background and their family.


  1. You say that little is known about William Roberts' life in England before his transportation in 1787. Is it possible that he is also the William Roberts who married Mary Russell in Helston, Cornwall in 1778? I'd be very interested if this link proved to be the case ….

  2. William Roberts married Mary Russell in 1778 and they had three children.
    I would be very interested if you know more of this family in England, especially what happened after William was sent to Australia.