Van Diemen's Land 1814-1833

According to Mary Nicholls in 1814 William "entered the usual notice in the Sydney Gazette that he was going to the Derwent."1 The following notice demonstrates that William travelled with his second son George, in March of that year:

MR. WILLIAM, and GEORGE RAYNER, intending to leave this Place for the Derwent, request all Claims may be presented for Payment forthwith.2

Michael Flynn too states that "In 1814 the family moved to Van Diemen’s Land", adding the fact that "Rayner worked [in V.D.L.] as a bread baker. He was granted 80 acres at New Norfolk."3 Flynn also repeats an often quoted story in which William Rayner was reported as making the following observation:

Rayner told a story to his sons which is one of the only eyewitness accounts of the tool and weapon making activities of Tasmanian Aboriginies. Around 1815 he was walking along a bush track in the Derwent Valley to his farm near Hamilton. At the Native Teir (between Glenleith and Charleys Hope) he came upon several dozen Aboriginal men, women and children chattering as they worked. They were breaking the flinty stone from a hillside and chipped the sharp pieces into stone knives. When the stone workers saw Rayner they ran off and he never saw them working at the spot again.4

According to the Ancestral File records William and Susannah had a son William John Rayner on 5 December 1815, but no further evidence has been found to substantiate this child's existence, and he is not noted in later depositions made about his children by William Rayner. On the topic of spurious association: as father and son shared the same name it can sometimes be difficult to know which of the two held the various positions, and documentation submitted to the Archives Office of Tasmania is actually contradictory in this regard, so for each appointment we will have to investigate who the various sources are talking about.

On 31 July 1816 William Rayner Jnr. was appointed as Storekeeper.5 The following year William and Susannah Rayner's third child Isabella was born on 23 August 1817 in Hobart Town.6

On 10 January 1818 William Rayner was listed to appear as a witness in a General Court Martial where charges were laid against "Act(in)g Ass(isstan)t Commy Genl. Broughton by Edward Lord. William was to appear in support of the allegations.7 The full story is detailed in Edward Lord's entry in the Dictionary of Australian Biography:

In 1817 Lord was suspected of smuggling from the Kangaroo which Captain Charles Jeffreys had improperly brought to the Derwent and, when Lord charged Acting Commissary William Broughton with improper trading, Lord refused to go to Sydney to prosecute at the court martial that Macquarie and Broughton desired. Judge-Advocate (Sir) John Wylde criticized both Lord and those officers in Hobart who had supported his accusations, and Macquarie exonerated Broughton, describing Lord as 'vindictive and implacable'.8

Between 7 September to 2 October 1818, a General Muster of Free Men was held in Hobart Town with William Rayner and his two sons included. Both William Rayner Jnr. and his brother George were described as born on Norfolk Island. George was not being victualled but both William Jnr. and Snr. were being victualled, presumably because of their civil responsibilities. William Snr. was described as arriving in the colony aboard the Scarborough after being tried in London in 1786 and sentenced to Life.9 In the Free Women on General Muster in Hobart Town Mrs. Rayner (nee Cullen) is records as on victualling, as are two children in the Free Children Off and On Stores list for Hobart Town, October 1818,10 another benefit of William Jnr's position.

On 24 February 1819 William Rayner Snr is included in the Return of Civil Officers as the District Constable on 10 pounds per annum.11

GOVERNMENT PUBLIC NOTICES. Secretary's Office, Hobart Town, Saturday, August 21st, 1819. WILLIAM RAYNER, sen. Constable of Hobart Town, is appointed District Constable for the South District, in the Room of William Parsons.12

On 29 September 1819 [William] Rayner's Liscence to graze stock at [the] West Side of Russell Falls in the district of New Norfolk was renewed for a further 12 months.13 For the Land and Stock Muster of Van Diemen’s Land which was held between 11 October and 16 October 1819, the following Rayners were recorded:

  • George Rayner on an orginal grant from Governor Macquarie, 40 acres in total comprising 4 acres with wheat, and half an acre with potatoes. 35 acres were in pasture, with 12 cattle and 280 sheep and 16 XX of grain in hand. George, as the proprietor, was not victualled, and he had 1 Government Servant who was also not victualled. The land was in the Elizabeth Town (or New Norfolk) area.
  • William Rayner (Jnr.) on a grant from Governor Macquarie, 60 acres in total with all 60 available as pasture. William owned 1 horse, 36 cattle and 378 sheep. William as the proprietor was victualled, as was his wife, but only two of the three children were victualled. William also had two victualled Government Servants, and he was based in Hobart Town as the Com(issariat) Keeper.
  • William Rayner (Snr.) on a grant from Governor Macquarie, 80 acres in total with all 80 available as pasture. William owned 1 horse, 5 cattle and 20 sheep, along with 120 XX grain in hand. William as the proprietor was victualled, as was his wife and three children. There were three Government Servants, one vitualled and two not victualled. William was based in Hobart Town as the District Constable.14

On 12 February 1820 William Rayner Jnr. was recorded in the "Return of Principle Superintendants, Clerks, Overseers and others in the Service of the Government at Hobart Town victualled from His Majesty's Magazine at Hobart Town. He was noted as the Storekeeper, with 1 supplied labourer on stores. William Rayner Snr. was also recorded as the District Constable, again with 1 supplied labourer on stores.15 20 March 1820: William Rayner rationed.16

In March 1820 William Rayner Jnr., in his position as Storekeeper and Inspector of Stock, was involved in an extensive enquiry into the processes employed in the Commissariat.

Robert Rayner was born on 6 April 1820 in Hobart Town to William and Susannah Rayner.17

On 22 September 1820 William Rayner was recorded in the Distribution of pews in St. David's Church.18 On the same day he is also recorded in a Return of Purchaser of Rams.19

In October 1820 William Rayner Snr. was appointed Superintendent of the Government Mill:

Government and General Orders. GOVERNMENT HOUSE, HOBART TOWN Saturday, October 7th, 1820. MR. WILLIAM RAYNER, Sen. is appointed Superintendent of the Government Mill, in the Room of Edward Yates, discharged. By Command of His Honor The Lieutenant Governor, H. E. ROBINSON, Secretary.20

On 15 December 1820 William Rayner senior supplied a tender to provide the government with 4,000 lbs of meat.21 Four days later on 19 December 1820 William Rayner was included in a Return of Civil Officers.22

On late December 1820 and early January 1821 it was advertised that a number of Rayners were supplying the Government stores with meat. William Rayner, 1500 (pounds); George Rayner, 1500 (pounds).23

By May 1821 William was on a List of Debts Due from Individuals to HM Government at Hobart Town and Transferred by D. A. C. G. Hull & Moodie, 21 May 1821. William owed £21-00-00.24

POLICE OFFICE.

William Rayner, sen. a baker in Murray-Street, was brought before the Superintendent of Police on Saturday last, on a charge of exposing to sale 35 loaves, 43f ounces déficient in weight. In this case it appeared, that Rayner was not the maker or vender of the bread in question, as he had let the bakehouse to his own assigned Government servant, John Morris, who entirely carried on the business on his own account; but as the license of the house had been granted to the master and not to the servant, the worthy Magistrate observed the former was answerable for the offence, and accordingly fined him 2s. 6d. per ounce for 40 ounces, and 3s. for the remainder, which made in all £5 Is. 3d. Rayner was also fined £2 for using improper Weights in his bakehouse.25

In 1822 Musters of Free Men and Free Women in Hobart Town were drafted with the following relevant entries:

  • CHAPMAN, Susannah; Status: By/Serv; Ship: Glatton; Arrived: 1803
  • RAYNER, William Jnr.; Status: B/Colony; Children: 1M 3F
  • RAYNER, William Snr.; Status: Abs/Pard; Ship: Scarborough; Arrived: 1788; Sentence: Life; Where Tried: London; When Tried: 1786; Children: 1M 3F
  • RAYNOR, George; Status: B/Colony26

In August 1822 William Rayner was again under scrutiny for under weight produce, the market being strictly regulated:

Police Office.

Wm. Rayner, sen. a baker in Murray-street, was brought before the Superintendant of Police, on Wednesday last, on a charge of exposing for sale seven loaves, 10 ounces short of weight in the whole. Rayner stated nothing in his defence, but that he had entrusted too much to his servant. This being a second conviction, Rayner was fined 5s. per ounce, for each ounce deficient in weight; and John Morris, his servant, was removed from his master's service, and ordered to be returned to the Public Works.27

On 20 October 1822 William and Susannah had a daughter Sophia born in Hobart Town.[19]28 In November 1924 William was involved in a case of burglary with intent to steal:

Hans Oulson was arraigned for burglariously entering the premises of James Blay, on the 9th of October, and stealing therein, a knife, a hat, and a fowling piece; but the evidence proving inconclusive, the Jury pronounced an Acquittal. The same prisoner then took his trial for a burglary in the house of William Rayner, with intent to steal a knife, a shirt, and a comb, the goods and chattels of one George Davis. Verdict-Guilty.29

Another daughter Susannah was born three years later on 16 February 1825, also in Hobart Town.30 William was working as a baker, and received a positive report in the Hobart Town Gazette along with others for voluntarily reducing the price of their bread:

We haye much pleasure in stating, as a proof of very creditable liberality, that Messrs. John Dean, William Rayner, sen. Neils Basstian, and other bakers, have recently appeared with voluntary grace at the Police Office, and lowered the price of their best wheaten bread to 8d. currency for the 2 lb. loaf. May they often afford us a similar occasion to tender them our compliments! Wheat is now selling at 9s. per bushel, which of course will allow them the happy privilege of making a still further abatement.31

According to Michael Flynn in his biography of William Rayner "[On] 9 February 1826 Susannah Rayner (nee Chapman) was convicted in Hobart Town of striking a neighbour's child and was given a bond of 50 pounds to keep the peace for six months..."32 The actual convict conduct record which was created for Susannah reads:

Chapman, Susan: Glatton, 1803; Feb 9, 1826: XX Rayner / Bond of 50 (pounds) & one in 50 (pounds) to Keep the peace 6 Mo(nth)s towards Francis Simmons an Infant (Rev. R. K.)33

So where Michael Flynn deduced that Francis Simmons parents were neighbours of the Rayners is unknown. No account of the incident has been found reported in the papers of the time. The Supreme Court records (which I think came into existence in 1825) may reveal the actual trial records, or at least a summary of witnesses etc. Presumably it is William Rayner Snr. advertising the sale of wine and spirits in January 1828 as William Jnr. was living at New Norfolk as a farmer and at that time was insolvent:

WILLIAM RAYNER respectfully informs his friends and the public, that he has laid in a stock of WINE and SPIRITS, which he is enabled to dispose of in any quantity, at very reduced prices. He particularly recommends his French Red Wine, which will be found of a description better suited for publican than any other lately imported. Collins-street, Jan, 21, 1828.34

On 13 October 1828 William Rayner was included as a memorialist regarding Derwent Bank Shareholders.35

In November 1831 William took one of his assigned servants to court for embezzlement:

George Pym stood charged with embezzling money, the property of his master, Mr. Rayner, sen. the baker. William Rayner, sworn.-The prisoner was my assigned servant, and had to deliver bread at Mr. Steeles'in Liverpool street,- he stated to have delivered several loaves of bread that had not been paid for for but it was afterwards found he had been paid for them, and he had not accounted for the money, Verdict - Not Guilty.36

William and Susannah's last child Archer was born on 9 March 1833 in Hobart Town. William named the boy after his brother in England who had died as a young man.37

  • 1. AOT Rayner Correspondance Folder
  • 2. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 12 March 1814
  • 3. Flynn, Michael: The Second Fleet, Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790 [pp. 491-492]
  • 4. Flynn, Michael: The Second Fleet, Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790 [pp. 491-492] and originally quoted in Von Stieglit, K. R.: History of Hamilton (1963)
  • 5. HRA Series III Volume I p. 160
  • 6. Isabella's birth, like most of her siblings, was not registered officially. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 7. HRA Series III Volume I p. 299
  • 8. Thea Rienits, 'Lord, Edward (1781 - 1859)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, Melbourne University Press, 1967, pp 127-128; http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A020113b.htm
  • 9. Schaffer & McKay: Musters and Lists p. XX
  • 10. Schaffer & McKay: Musters and Lists (List 8:3b p. 123 and List 8:3c p. 126)
  • 11. HRA Series III Volume III p. 538
  • 12. The Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter Saturday 21 August 1819
  • 13. HRA III, Vol. III. p. 576
  • 14. Schaffer & McKay: Musters and Lists (List 9.2 p. 143)
  • 15. HRA III, Vol. III. pp. 555-556
  • 16. HRA III, Vol. III. p. 598
  • 17. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 18. HRA III, Vol. III. p. 681
  • 19. HRA III, Vol. III. p. 684
  • 20. The Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter Saturday 7 October 1820
  • 21. HRA III, Vol. III. p. 697
  • 22. HRA III, Vol. III. p. 602
  • 23. The Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter Saturday 30 December 1830, 6 and 13 January 1821
  • 24. AOT List of Debts Due from Individuals to HM Government at Hobart Town and Transferred by D. A. C. G. Hull & Moodie, 21 May 1821
  • 25. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser Saturday 17 November 1821
  • 26. Schaffer & McKay: Musters and Lists p. XX
  • 27. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser Saturday 17 August 1822
  • 28. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 29. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser Friday 19 November 1824
  • 30. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 31. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser Friday 31 December 1824
  • 32. Flynn, Michael: The Second Fleet, Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790 [p. 492]
  • 33. AOT Convict Conduct Record CON40/1/1 p9
  • 34. The Hobart Town Courier Saturday 2 February 1828
  • 35. HRA III, Vol. VII. pp. 600-605
  • 36. Colonial Times Wednesday 23 November 1831
  • 37. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857