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William Buckley

William Buckley was a giant - six foot six in stockinged feet. But his story is even bigger.

Buckley escaped Victoria's first penal settlement in 1803 and lived with the Wathaurong people for the next 32 years. He gave himself up to John Batman's party at Indented Heads in 1835, only to become embroiled in the controversial and sometimes violent early settlement of Port Phillip.

1780 1795 March 1798 Sept - October 1799 1801 4th May 1802 8th May 1802 5th August 1802 September 1802 27th April 1803 9th October 1803 25th October 1803 27th December 1803 30th December 1803 31st December 1803 1st January 1804 8th January 1804 9th - 30th January 1804 1804 - 1835 6th July 1835 1835 1837 28th December 1837 10th January 1838 27th January 1840 1850 30th January 1856
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This timeline begins in the year 1780 at Macclesfield, in the County of Cheshire, England. It is in this area at around this time William Buckley was born. Historical records, or lack there of, expose inconsistencies in his given date of birth but for the sake of consistency let us assume that 1780 is the place to begin.

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Started a bricklaying apprenticeship with Mr. Robert Wyatt.

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William Buckley joins the 2nd Cheshire Militia when formed in 1798.

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2nd Cheshire Militia goes to Helder, Flanders to fight the French.

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Soldier firing rifle
Brief Service History

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Volunteers for the 1st Battalion, signing on for unlimited service.

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Private William Buckley claimed by the civil powers at Cuckfield.

Court Records
Pay Record

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Tried and found guilty of burglary at the Summer Assizes at Lewes.

To be hanged by the Neck until dead. (Reprieved - Transport for Life)

Court Records
Trial Record

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Under sentence of death at Lewes, discharged from the 1st battalion of the 4th Foot.

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Imprisoned on the Portland, a convict hulk moored at Langstone Harbour, Portsmouth.

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He spent six months on the hulk, working at the 'fortifications of Woolwich'.

Hulk Records
Convict Hulks

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Along with 362 other prisoners, William Buckley leaves England in the convict ship H.M.S. Calcutta.

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Arrives at Port Phillip Heads on the H.M.S. Calcutta at 5am.

Was put to work building a magazine.

Map

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spacer The British flag was hoisted officially for the first time in what is now known as Victoria. spacer
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At 9.00pm William Buckley and 2 other prisoners escape from Sullivan's Bay (Sorrento) penal colony.

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Walked along a sandy beach the Wathaurong call "Kooraioo", an area now known as the Geelong Waterfront.

Click for Corio Bay panorama
Click Photograph

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Arrived at a place called "Woodela" near Clifton Springs.

Clifton Springs
Photograph

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Reached "Barwal" meaning hill rising out of the sea, which is now called Swan Island.

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William's companions decide to return to Sullivan's Bay Settlement but William decides to carry on.

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Buckley loses track of time in relation to place but he walked through the following locations:

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  • Ballagook
    (Point Lonsdale)
  • Kaaraf
    (Bream Creek)
  • Doorangwar
    (Spring Creek, Torquay)
  • Kuarka Dorla
    (Anglesea River)
  • Mangowak
    (Airey's Inlet)
  • Lorne
  • Nooraki
    (Mt Defiance)

 

 
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William Buckley spends the next 32 years living with the local Wada wurrung balug (Barrobool) and Bengalat bulluk (Indented Head) clans.

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A white reconnaissance camp had been set up at St Leonard's by John Batman's expedition. William Buckley walks into camp.

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William Buckley

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William Buckley receives a pardon and begins working as an interpreter for the colonising English government.

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William Buckley assists Foster Fyans (Geelong Police Magistrate) assemble the Koories living within a 30km radius of Geelong in order to receive gifts. In all 297 men, women and children were counted.

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William Buckley sails out of Melbourne for Hobart.

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William Buckley arrives in Hobart. He quickly starts work as the storekeepers assistant at the Immigration Home in Hobart.

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William Buckley marries Julia Eagers.

Marriage Certificate
Marriage Certificate

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William Buckley retires.

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William Buckley dies from injuries received in a horse and cart accident.

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At the time of Williams death, there were less than 20 surviving Wathaurong out of the 297 men, women and children counted back in 1837.

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