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Sergeant William Smith (1803......1883.)

Back To . . 63rd Foot West Suffolk Regiment
  • Born : 1803 Born
  • Where Born :  Ballinderry County Antrim Northern Ireland  
  • Occupation : Weaver. / Soldier
  • Date Arrived : Sydney : 25 March 1829
  • Ship Arrived on :  "Fergusson" Sydney,  Sydney to Hobart on the ship Guildford New Zealand Oriental Queens on October 17th 1849
  • Rank attained : Sergeant
  • Regimental # : No 684:  at Aged 17 years with the 11th Foot Regiment.
  • Date of Enlistment : 24 Oct 1820
  • Where Enlisted Lisburn County Antrim Northern Ireland
  • 25th 1827 William was exchanged with another soldier Mulholland, and he transferred to the 63rd Regiment. 
  • Date of Discharge :   13th   December 1842
  • Where Discharged : Fort Pitt Chatham Kent
  • Enlisted: Fencible' s
  • Died : 2nd Jan 1883
  • Where Died / Buried : “Walnut Grove” Onehunga Auckland as is buried at St Peters Church Onehunga Auckland NZ in an unmarked grave.
  • Parents Names : Parents David Smith and Harriet nee Shillington
  • 1st Spouse's Name :Rosannah Mackay
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  • Date Arrived : Hobart   January 1830
  • Ship Arrived on : “Chatham” 
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  • Died : 27th June 1834 Rosannah
  • Where Died / Buried : burial record is at St Mary’s Church Madras
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  • Date Married :29 June 1840  , 
  • Where Married : North Aylesford in Kent
  • Died : 1866   .
  • Where Died / Buried :  buried at the St Peters Churchyard in an unmarked grave with a child
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    Information kindly supplied by Beth Hall

    Area Settled :
    Children :

    1st spouse was Rosannah Mackay from Ireland Date arrived in Hobart on the Chatham would have been January 1830 with child Mary Anne

    William Smith & Rosannah
    Mary Ann 1829
    Thomas  1826
    Elizabeth  (Eliza) 1833
    Children of William and Sarah
    John Smith born Bryansford Ireland Died Onehunga NZ 1845-1932
    George Smith born Bryansford Ireland Died Onehunga NZ 1847-1928
    Robert Smith (my great grandfather) born at Newry Ireland 1849 died at “Walnut Grove” Onehunga 1933
    Margaret Anne 1851 born Onehunga NZ
    William 1852  - 1919 born Onehunga NZ
    History & Achievements :
    William Smith - NZ death notice records mention that he served as a member of the 63rd Regiment in various parts of the empire including Tasmania.  He came to NZ as a Fencible on the troop ship Oriental Queens on October 17th 1849. He was appointed Sergeant of the No 8 Company Loyal NZ Fencible s under Captain Symonds. He was stationed in Onehunga and lived in Spring Street Onehunga Auckland NZ until his death.

    Enlistment: WO97/770 Military records William Smith No 684: 24 Oct 1820 at Lisburn County Antrim Northern Ireland Aged 17 years with the 11th Foot Regiment. Rank Private. Under age, he served for one year without recognition for this time of service.  Having sworn to the articles of war to go anywhere and that he didn’t belong to any militia, William received the sum of half a crown (British). The balance of five pounds I believe would have been given to his recruiter.

     24 October 1821 his pay commenced at rank of Private.  William Smith served in Portugal for 1.5 years.  England had responded to Portugal’s request for assistance to quell a secessionist uprising in the North that had some church and Spanish support. During this time his regiment marched from Belem, to Saccavem, Alhandra, Alemquer, to Liera, Louies and back to Belem.  The 63rd and 11th Regiments were together at Liera.  

    He was promoted to Corporal on 1st April 1828 and at this time the 63rd returned from Belem to Chatham Kent England.

     June 1828 – he was transferred from Chatham and placed on detachment at Upnor Castle on the River Medway in Kent.

     1 July 1828 William embarked and then disembarked at Sheernop (word definitely Sheernop, but ? this is Sheerness)  – to and from the convict ship “Surrey”  He was either ill or injured as his muster record shows that he marched Route 11, and then spent four days in the Regimental hospital at ? Upnor Castle or Fort Pitt Chatham.  The officer’s report shows that his allowance for being on the Surrey was disallowed for the period 1 July 1828 – 24 October 1828.

     25 Sept 1828 he received a pay increase and was promoted to Lance Sergeant  - in the British Army this meant that he acted in the rank of Sergeant and wore three white chevrons. Full rank sergeants wore three gold chevrons. I understand that this rank would have permitted him to order convict floggings.

    11 October 1828 – The 63rd Embarkation records list the ship ‘Ferguson’ as leaving Deptford for NSW.  Captain Wentworth, Capt Paterson, 3 sergeants, 1 drummer boy, 35 Rank and file.  In brackets in pencil there is the number (5), which I assume is family. Given the ranks above him, this family is unlikely to have included William’s Rosannah and child Mary Ann.

    16 November 1828 – The Fergusson left Dublin bound for NSW arriving 26 Mar 1829  - Capt Jn S Grove, Surgeon Chas Cameron The voyage took 130 days. 216 convicts on board, 214 arrived alive. 

    31 Mar 1829 – the reconciliation of rations in the Officers report shows that Capt Wentworth and Capt Paterson travelled from Sydney to Hobart and one might assume that his men also travelled on the ship “Guildford.”

    William Smith served in Van Diemen’s Land for five years – I have been unable to determine in military records when the five years starts – from time of leaving England or time of arrival? 

    June 1830 From the unassisted passenger arrival records 1829 -  microfiche I wonder if William’s wife Rosannah and child arrived in Hobart from London on the ship “Chatham.”  I could not identify her by initial.

    1830 – Governor Arthur’s orders show the 63rd to have been involved in the ‘Black line.”  - the movement of the aborigines from the central plains to the east coast of Tasmania. William spent approximately two years at Bothwell serving under Captain D’Arcy Wentworth and is listed as Acting Sergeant.  On his return to Hobart in 1833  he is noted as being in charge of carts ? the water carts that I saw somewhere as arriving from England on one of the ships.

    D’Arcy Wentworth was the first Australian born British Army member. He was eventually promoted to Major in India.

    28 December 1833 William left Hobart for Madras on board the” Isabella.”

    11 March 1834 William arrived in Madras and was based at Fort St George in Chennai.  As Isabella was at this time a troop transport it is likely that Rosannah and two children Mary Ann and Elizabeth accompanied their father.

    27th June 1834 Rosannah died and her burial record is at St Mary’s Church Madras.  The two children were placed in the Madras Female Asylum (orphanage come boarding establishment for soldier’s children) and appear to have returned to England in 1839.

    5 October 1834 Under Colonel Logan, the 63rd brigaded with the 13th, 23rd, 29th and 30th Native regiments in Guindy for one year before returning to Fort St George. 

    21 November 1834 William Smith was promoted to Sergeant

    14 Oct 1837 the regiment moved from Fort St George to Arnee, returning to Madras 3 Jan 1838  During this time cholera broke out in the regiment, 13 men were affected and four died.

    21 April 1838 the 63rd sailed on the “Bombay” for Moulmein.  Detachments were based at Tavoy and Mergui. They eventually took over the Moulmein barracks in 1840 and remained there until 1842.  William served in India for 5 years and 217 days and I believe that he returned to England in late 1839 (combination of service record plus Female Asylum record suggesting girls returned to England that year).

    1841 UK Census – William was at the Chatham Barracks along with Sarah and the children of his first marriage – Thomas aged 15 years, Mary born 1829 and Elizabeth (Eliza) born 1833. I have failed to find a birth or baptism record for the latter child in Tasmania. Her death certificate shows her as being born in Tasmania.

    (The Barrack census records are a remarkable resource for the 63rd and their families).

    19th November 1842 – William was discharged from the regiment on the grounds of ill health at Chatham Kent.  He was examined at the Fort Pitt Hospital.  Found to be suffering from “Dyspnoea (shortness of breath), strength and activity on decline” He was examined by Andrew Smith MD.  Chatham 26th November 1842 “ after examination at this ‘resal’ hospital I am of the opinion that William Smith is unfit for service and likely he will be permanently unqualified for military duty on account of the above complaints.”  His discharge was approved by the General Commander in Chief on 13th December 1842.

    His total recognized service to the 19th Nov 1842 was 21 years 28 days of which 6 yrs 234 days were served as Coporal and 7 years 364 days were served as Sergeant.  He actually didn’t leave until the end of December however and there was a pay adjustment.

    He served abroad for 12 years 311 days – Portugal 1.5 years; Van Diemen’s Land 5 years East Indies 5 years 217 days.

    His final description states that Sergeant William Smith of the 63rd Regiment of Foot when discharged from the service at Fort Pitt 13th Day December 1842 was aged 40 years, 5 foot 9 inches in height, Hair light brown, eyes grey and complexion pale. His trade was a weaver and there were no listed scars on his body.

    His character was stated as being very good!

    From the birth certificates of Sarah and William’s first three children, we know that the family returned to Northern Ireland living at Bryansford (1847) and then Newry in County Down (1849).

    William applied for and was accepted as a Fencible and was one of 71 pensioners who traveled to NZ on the Oriental Queen.  Departed London 16 May 1849 and arrived in Auckland 18 September 1849. William had to pay for the fare and rations for his eldest daughter Mary – something like 7 pounds 5 shillings as the War Office budget didn’t meet the costs of the number of people traveling on the Oriental Queen.  The War Office details of travel for each soldier to Tilbury etc, as well as the rules, regulations, expected behaviours make fascinating reading. 1860s and the Maori Wars, William was the Sergeant in Charge of a volunteer garrison based at Green Hill and the Onehunga Blockhouse to protect Auckland’s southern gateway from attack by the Maori. 

    1 Nov 1849 William was a Fencible Sergeant based in the fledgling Onehunga Auckland New Zealand.  His cottage was built at approximately 53 Spring Street.

    5 July 1856 William received a Crown Land grant in Section 7 of Onehunga – the area that borders Grey St, Spring St and Arthur St.   In 1860 he sold this property and purchased freehold land at Lot 72 on the corner of Mt Smart Road and Mariri Road. It is uncertain if he built the home “Walnut Grove”, he is shown as living on this lot in 1867 after his wife had died. His son, Robert, my great grandfather and his family lived there until their deaths in the 1970s. The house still stands today and I used to visit it as a child.

    2nd Jan 1883 William Smith died of senile decay and prostatic disease in his give or take 80th year. At this time I do not had a confirmation certificate of this true date of birth.