Prisoner William SAWYER or SAYER(s) 1875

William Sawyer, also known as Sayer(s), arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on the Chapman in 1824, transported for seven years for theft of money. When Thomas J. Nevin photographed him for police records in 1875 at the termination of a sentence passed in 1868 at the Supreme Court Hobart of ten years for sheep stealing, he was 76 yrs old.

Prisoner SAYER or SAWYER, William
TMAG Ref: Q15615
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, 1875

Verso: prisoner SAYER or SAWYER, William per “Chapman”
TMAG Ref: Q15615
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, 1875

Transportation Records
Crime: Theft
Convicted at: Suffolk Quarter Sessions
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Chapman
Departure date: 6th April, 1824
Arrival date: 27th July, 1824
Place of arrival: Van Diemen’s Land
Passenger manifest: Travelled with 179 other convicts

Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Page Number 145 (74)

Name: Sawyer, William
Record Type: Convicts
Departure date: 6 Apr 1824
Departure port: England
Ship: Chapman (1)
Voyage number: 35
Remarks: Tried Hobart Oct 1838
Index number: 62456
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1432240

Marriage of William Sayer to Sarah Wickham 1836
William Sayer married Sarah Wickham at St. John’s Church, New Town, Hobart, on 21st July, 1836. She would have been no more than sixteen years old whereas William Sayer/Sayers/Sawyer was 36 yrs old, born in 1799 and 24 yrs old when he was transported on the Chapman in 1824 to serve seven years. Witnesses to the marriage were John and Mary Baily of Hobart Town. William Sayer had gained a Ticket of Leave three years earlier, on 10th May 1833, and a Free Certificate on 21st October 1833.

Name:Sayers, William
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Male
Spouse: Wickham, Sarah
Date of marriage:21 Jul 1836
Registration year:1836
Record ID:NAME_INDEXES:822703

Police Record of William Sawyer or Sayer 1868-75
William Sawyer/Sayer was residing with his co-offender John Bradley and John Bradley’s wife when he was arrested for theft of a sheep and mutton.


John Bradley and William Sayers were charged with having on the 19th January stolen a sheep, the property of Daniel Reynolds, and in a second count with having on the same day stolen 20lbs. of mutton, being part of a sheep, the property of the said Reynolds.
Sayers pleaded guilty, and Bradley not guilty. The former was remanded, and the trial of the latter was proceeded with.

Source: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Thu 13 Feb 1868 Page 2 LAW.

The Police Gazette records of convictions and discharges are the most reliable means for accurately establishing the dates on which Thomas J. Nevin produced the several hundred mugshots of Tasmanian prisoners during his commission as commercial photographer, government contractor and civil servant, 1872-1886. This record dates the photograph of William Sawyer or Sayer to March 1875, taken in the fortnight before his discharge.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, March 1875, J. Barnard Gov’t Printer

William Sawyer or Sayer, originally from Ipswich (born 1799, Suffolk, UK) and transported on the ship Chapman in 1824, was tried in the Supreme Court, Hobart on 11th February 1868, sentenced to 10 years. He was 76 years old when he was discharged with a ticket of leave (TOL) in 1875. The police recorded his height on discharge as 5 ft 11½ inches tall, with grey hair and a scar on right of upper lip. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin on discharge from the Hobart Gaol in the week ending 17th March 1875. He died in 1883, apparently with no further convictions recorded by the police from the date of discharge which occasioned this mugshot and no other subsequently.

Divorce of Sarah and William Sawyer or Sayer 1870
At some point after their marriage in 1836, William and Sarah Sawyer lived at Bothwell, Tasmania. He worked as a shepherd for E. Nicholas at Pine Tier (central highlands) but by 1862 he was thought to have departed the colony.This notice appeared in the weekly police gazette of 30th November 1866. But by 1868, he was resident at Broadmarsh in Tasmania when he was arrested, convicted at the Supreme Court,  and incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol.


INFORMATION is requested as to the whereabouts and circumstances of William Sawyer, formerly residing at Bothwell, and employed as shepherd by E. Nicholas, Esquire, of the Pine Tier, Marlborough. He is supposed to have left this Colony in 1862 or 1863.

William Sawyer reported missing,
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, 30th November 1866.

When Sarah Sawyer applied for divorce in September 1870, the judgment was reserved with no explanation, but possibly because William Sawyer was incarcerated, currently serving ten years, and possibly because his wife Sarah Sawyer/Sayer was dying of rectal cancer.

Source: The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880) Wed 21 Sep 1870 Page 3 No title


The divorce case, “Sarah Sayer v. William Sayer”, was heard to-day. Judgment was reserved. The parties were married in Hobart Town.

Death of Sarah Sawyer/Sayer 1873
On the 19th November 1873, Sarah Sawyer died at the General Hospital, Hobart of cancer of the rectum. She was 53 yrs old, a servant,  born in Belfast ca.1820.

Name:Sawyer, Sarah
Record Type: Deaths
Gender: Female
Age: 3
Date of death: 19 Nov 1873
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1873
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1151040
Resource: RGD35/1/8 no 1789

Death of William Sawyer 1883
William Sawyer died of “senilis” at the New Town Pauper Establishment on 14th May, 883. He was 84 yrs old. His burial record stated he was a Protestant.

Names: Sawyer, William
Record Type: Deaths
Gender: Male
Age: 84
Date of death: 14 May 1883
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1883
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1230474
Resource: RGD35/1/10 no 880