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Details for the convict Charles Wills (1842)

Convict Name:Charles Wills
Trial Place:Leicester (Leicester Quarter Sessions)
Trial Date:29 June 1840
Sentence:7 years
Arrival Details
Ship:Eden I
Arrival Year:1842
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There is currently one researcher who has claimed Charles Wills

  • Researcher (Robert Ahern)
Claimed convict


Charles Henry Wills

Charles Henry Wills was born into the Protestant family of William Wills and Mary Harcourt in rural Atherstone in Warwickshire but close upon the border of Leicestershire in December 1821. By the time he was 19 years old he was 5 feet 6 inches (1.67m) tall, could read and write and was employed as a farm labourer. Unfortunately, at this time he was also apprehended for stealing a gold ring and silver spoons from a Mr Joseph Loom's house. He was held in prison and convicted at the Quarterly Session of the neighbouring Leicester Court on 29 June 1840.

Charles was held in the prison hulk Warrior (built in 1781 and a prison hulk from 1840 to 1857) for 18 months.
He was eventually transferred to the Eden with 280 other convicts which sailed from Woolwich on 12 March 1842, and arrived in Van Diemen's Land (Hobart Town) 105 days later on 5 July 1842. He was “Convict #5419” then aged 21. As was the case for most newly landed convicts Charles was sent to work on the road gangs in the Victoria Valley 84kms north west of Hobart for one year before being assigned to private service on probation (where?).

Charles doesn’t appear in any official records until he was granted a Ticket of Leave on 17 January 1846, and his Certificate of Freedom 6 July 1847.

By the early 1850’s Charles was working as a butcher in Hobart and had met the daughter of the Publican of the Elephant and Castle Hotel, Mary Ann Webb. They were married at the residence of Mr Yardley, a grocer, in February 1853. Charles was now in his early thirties and on 12 May took over the licence of the Elephant and Castle from his father-in-law. In December of that year Charles and Mary had a son, William Wills but he died of measles on 11th February the following year. On 4 February 1856 Charles transferred the hotel licence and became a farmer (where?) In November 1857 they had another son, Henry Charles Wills born at Argyle St in Hobart, but he died of dysentery in April 1859. Between 1857 and 1863 he may have formed an important link to the wealthy Clark brothers at Ellenthorp Hall near Ross.

In any event, by mid July 1863 he was back in Hobart with Mary and his favourite sheep dog looking for new challenges and placed an advertisement in The Mercury seeking employment as an Overseer in any Australian Colony:
WANTED OVERSEERSHIP. The Advertiser is desirous of obtaining a situation as Overseer over sheep or cattle in any one of the Australian Colonies, having had considerable experience in all. Can produce unexceptionable testimonials from his last employer, G. C. Clark, Esq, Ellenthorp Hall, Tasmania. Address C. H. WILLS, care of Mr. Yardley, 101 Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town (1863 'Advertising.', The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. 1860 - 1954), 8 July 1863, p. 1).

By September 1863 when his oldest daughter Amy Jane was born, he was still with Mr Yardley at the Glasgow Tea Warehouse in Hobart, and no occupation was shown on Amy Jane's birth certificate. However, events must have moved quickly as in January 1864 he was at Talgai but again seeking employment as an Overseer:
OVERSEERSHIP WANTED, a situation as OVERSEER on a Sheep Station by a practical man who thoroughly understands the treatment and management of Sheep. Address C. H. WILLS, care of Mr. HANMER, Talgai; and reference to C. CLARK. Esqre., Warwick (1864 'Advertising', Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser 7 January, p. 2).

It appears that Hanmer & Clark must have employed him for the specific task of establishing Old Talgai in late 1863.

Charles passed away suddenly on 5 January 1886, he was 61 years old:
“He was laid up about a week ago with a complaint which soon developed into rheumatic fever and terminated fatally at an early hour on Tuesday morning”.

His estate of £400 and realty of £100 passed to his wife Mary
Submitted by Researcher (Robert Ahern) on 19 August 2019

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Research notes

There are currently no research notes attached to this convict.


  • The National Archives (TNA) : HO 11/13, p.22

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