Van Diemen's Land 1833-1865

This page carries on from the Van Diemen's Land 1814-1833 section of William Rayner's story. In late 1833 William Rayner started attending the meetings of the Society of Friends which were initiated by James Backhouse and George Washington Walker. The two men had arrived in the fledgling colony the year earlier on a mission to spread the Quaker word.

In their travels around Van Diemen's Land [they] ... took lodgings where they could, whether in the modest houses of settlers or in the huts of the herdsmen. They met quite a few people with Quaker connections and sympathies, and it was not long before there was the prospect of a viable group.1

William Rayner was among the first members, but the first meetings were not held at his house as it is so often reported, although some of the early meetings occurred at his house in Barrack Street before the group found their home at 39 Murray Street. He is first mentioned at the Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends held at the house of Thomas James Crouch, Bathurst Street Hobart Town on 20 September 1833:

5: William Rayner, formerly a member of Westminster Monthly Meeting, and who has for some years resided with his family in this island.2

After some time, at the Meeting of Friends held in the house of William Holdship, New Town Road on 1 May 1834 William Rayner submitted his application for membership:

Application for membership from Wm. Rayner Senr. 4: The following application has been received from William Rayner the elder and read in this meeting. Jas. Backhouse, A. C. Flower and Geo. W. Walker are appointed to visit him and report: To the Monthly Meeting of Friends held at Hobart Town, the 1st of 5th month, 1834. Dear Friends, I have a sincere desire to become a member of the religious society of Friends from the inward and spiritual consolation of mind I have experienced from our first meeting held at this place, as well as being brought up and educated amongst Friends, and I hope Friends will from an opportunity they have had of observing my conduct believe my declaration and acknowledge me as a member. Wm. Rayner. Snr.3

At the next meeting, also held at the house of William Holdsworth, on 15 May 1834, William Rayner was received into membership:

William Rayner received into membership 9. The Friends appointed to visit William Rayner report that the visit was much to their satisfaction: They have reason to believe that for some time past he has acted consistently with the principles of Friends in which he was brought up, and an attachment to which he does not appear ever to have entirely lost, though for many years he considerably declined in practice. This Meeting having given the subject its serious consideration, it is concluded to accede to William Rayner’s request, and to regard him henceforth as a Member. James Backhouse is requested to inform Wm. Rayner of this decision.4

On 28 May 1834 James Backhouse noted the meeting with William Rayner in his recollections of George Washington Walker:

28th. Took tea with William and Susannah Rayner and their family. The organization of a society professing Friends' principles has afforded W. Rayner peculiar satisfaction. He is much affected when alluding to the mercy of a long-suffering Creator and Redeemer, in visiting his family and himself with "the dayspring from on high," in his old age.5

On 5 June 1834 William attended the Meeting of Friends held at the house of W[illia]m. Holdship and Registered his marriages and children:

Register Notes of Wm. Rayner’s Marriage

14. Register Notes of the Marriage of William Rayner first to Elizabeth Goldsmith on Norfolk Island, and second to Susannah Chapman at Newcastle, New South Wales, have been brought in and are recorded at the end of this Minute Book.6

Birth Notes of Wm. Rayner’s Children

15. Register Notes have also been produced for William and George Rayner, the children of William & Elizabeth Rayner; and for Elizabeth, Sarah, Isabella, Robert, Sophia, Susannah and Archer Rayner, children of Wm. & Susannah Rayner; which are entered in the Register at the end of this Minute Book. Though there is [a] defect in the information contained in some of the before mentioned Registers it is as complete as circumstances afford. None of the Parties except Wm. Rayner the elder, are in Membership with Friends.7

James Backhouse was the registrant, and the entries at the end of the Minute Book were as follows, both marriage and birth registrations:

William Rayner's Marriages in the Society of Friends Minute Book
William Rayner's Marriages in the Society of Friends Minute Book
Images Reproduced from the Quaker Collection of the University of Tasmania
William Rayner's Birth Registrations in the Society of Friends Minute Book
William Rayner's Birth Registrations in the Society of Friends Minute Book
Images Reproduced from the Quaker Collection of the University of Tasmania

As detailed in the section devoted to Isabella Rayner and William Nichollias, on 5 June 1834 Isabella Rayner submitted an application for membership. This was reported to the next meeting as satisfactory and Isabella was received into membership and advice was tendered that she was informed of the decision on 4 September 1834.8 William Nichollias followed suit on 2 October 1834 with Isabella attending and his application was also successful.9 At the same meeting in December 1834 where Francis Cotton reported that he had informed William Nichollias of the decision to receive him into membership Isabella Rayner and William Nichollias proclaimed their intention to marry which was provided with the consent of the potential bride's parents:

To Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends We hereby certify that it is with our consent that our daughter Isabella Rayner lays before you her intention of marriage with her friend William Nichollias, William Rayner Susannah Her X Mark Chapman Hobart Town 6th of 12th month 183410

Th[eophilu]s. Pollard and Tho[ma]s. Squires were appointed to enquire into their clearings which were ultimately provided on 29 January 1835.11 On 5 February 1835 in the house of William Rayner, Barrack Street, Isabella Rayner and William Nichollias were informed that they were at liberty to marry. All the relevant parties attended.12 They married the following day, again in the house of William Rayner, who was charged with reporting the occasion to the next meeting on 2 April 1835:

Report of the Marriage of Wm. Nichollias and Isabella Rayner William Rayner reports that the marriage of William Nichollias with Isabella Rayner took place on 6th day, the 6th of 2nd Month 1835, a meeting for worship being held especially for that purpose, and that the marriage was conducted in an orderly and consistent manner. He also produced two registers of the marriage which our Registrars are requested to preserve and record at the end of this minute book...13

Later that same month William Rayner Junior's wife Sophia died on 25 April 1835 at New Norfolk:

DIED.—At New Norfolk, on the 25th Instant, after a short illness of four days, SOPHIA, the Wife of MR. WILLIAM RAYNER Junior, aged 37 years.14

William Rayner Jnr. was the licensee of the Talbot Hotel in New Norfolk as reported in the Hobart Town Gazette of October 1835.15 There are many more minutes to be transcribed that will be entered here. In 1837 William was reported in the paper as receiving a number of convict assignments:

Assignments. Joseph Morgan, W. Champ, R. Patterson, John Nash, R. L. Murray, Anthony Mann. Wm. Morris, Geo. Griffiths, Robert Boyde,Fix this text Jeremiah Lambert, V. D. L. Company, David Gibson, Angus McKinnon, Colin McKinnon, H. G. Ball, William, John Nowland, Richard Pitt, William Broad, William Frazier, Daniel Judson, John Masters, J. A. Denham, James Reid, John Keenahan, James Spencer, Thomas Downie, M. Donnelly, John Sanford, William Brodribb, William Raison, Mrs. Davis, Wm. Robinson, James Foyle, Rev. Mr. Garrard, Bernard Hill, Wm. Rayner, Mrs. Ramus, G. Dudfleld, James Grant.16

In 1839 William Rayner's name was mentioned in a land titles transaction:

Thomas Yardley Lowes, lr. 30p., Hobart Town, originally Edward Lord, who conveyed to John Foley, who conveyed to the late Thomas William Birch, whose trustees sold to William Rayner, to whom a portion of the land applied for was located, and sold by him to the applicant; claim dated 15th June, 1839.-Being the mill-race of watercourse commencing at the Hobart Town Rivulet near the boundary of land occupied by Edmund Hodgson and extending in a north easterly direction through land occupied by or belonging to John Moses, James Hackett, Israel Hyams, and others, to land occupied as the Sorell Mills by William M'Robic and Anthony Mann.17

On 26 November 1841 it was reported that William Rayner (Senior or Junior?) had been appointed a poundkeeper for Sandy Bay:

GOVERNMENT NOTICE. No. 312. Colonial Secretary's Office, 18th November, 1841. The Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to appoint Mr. William Rayner Poundkeeper at Sandy Bay, in the room of Mr. Stephens, appointed District Constable in Hobart Town. By His Excellency's command, JOHN MONTAGU.

On 4 March 1842 William was reported to have resigned his position of poundkeeper:

GOVERNMENT NOTICE. No. 65. Colonial Secretary's Office, 3rd March, 1842. The Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to appoint James Canterbury to be Poundkeeper at Sandy Bay, in the room of William Rayner, resigned. By His Excellency's command, G. T. W. BOYES.18

On 16 August 1842 Susannah and her daughter (who would have been about 17) were reported as the victims of an assualt:

Ellen Power, charged with assaulting Susannah Rayner, the elder, fined 1s.; she was also charged with assaulting Susannah Rayner, the younger, but this complaint was withdrawn.19

William Rainer (sic), a Miller, died in Barrack Street, Hobart, Tasmania on 14 December 1850 at the reported age of 84. The cause of death was recorded as decay of nature and the informant was his son Archer C. Rayner of Barrack street.20 He was buried on 18 December 1850 in the Friends Burial Ground in West Hobart, Tasmania.21 Michael Flynn writes that He was survived by his wife who was to inherit his estate under his will.22 No such document is noted in the Will Register of the Archives Office of Tasmania. On 21 October 1852 Archer Rayner was recording as gold seeking, aged 19, when he left the state from Hobart Town aboard the Melbourne for the city of the same name.23

Mrs. Susannah Rayner, Collins-street, residing within a few doors off Barrack street, for defendant, who said that on the evening named complainant; who was tipsy, came down the street, and, without any provocation, struck defendant several times with a stick over the arms; the blows were very violent, and the defendant had a child in her arms at the time. Cross-examined by Complainant - Had never said to complainant, are you going to submit to such treatment from Mrs. Murphy? Case dismissed.24

The case was made clearer when reported the following day:

Assault.-Mrs. Jane Martin of Collins street was charged on the information of Elizabeth Coulson, an old woman living in the same neighborhood, with having unlawfully assaulted and beaten the latter. Mr. Moriarty appeared for the defence. Defendant stated that she had been summoned in her wrong name, but as she had appeared as Jane Martin, the case was proceeded with. Complainant stated that on the evening of the day named in the information, defendant commenced insulting her by asking her if she wanted any more chickens? using at the same tiime very bad language, and subsequently assaulted her, inflicting several bruises on her face and shoulders, and knocking out one of her teeth. In answer to, Mr. Moriarty, complainant said she was quite sober on the day in question. Defendant frequently insulted her. Mr. Moriarty argued on behalf of his client, that the dispute arose out of a quarrel about some fowls which Mrs. Coulson had been accused of stealing, and that defendant who was under the influence of liquor had commenced the fray. In support of this line of defence, the learned counsel called Mrs. Susannah Raynor (sic) of Collins-street, who stated that on the evening in question, she saw complainant who was intoxicated, strike defendant, who had child in her arms, on the arm with a stick. The Bench dismissed the information, the only evidence adduced being dead against complainant.25

The following death notice would appear to be referencing William Rayner Junior:

On the 20th August last, at the residence of his son, Henry Rayner, near Castlemaine, Victoria, of disease of the heart, William Rayner, (formerly of this city), aged 71 years.26

Susannah Rayner (nee Chapman) died of burns in Hobart, Tasmania on 15 March 1865, caused by her clothing catching fire while she was smoking a pipe!"27 An inquest was held into her death:

An Inquisition indented taken for our Sovereign Lady the Queen at the House of William Chatley known by the sign of the Gordon Castle at Hobart Town, in the County of Buckingham within the Island of Tasmania this Seventeenth day of March in the twenty eighth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith, before me Algernon Burdett Jones Esquire one of the Coroners of our said Lady the Queen for the said Island and its Dependencies, on view of the body of Susannah Chapman Rayner, now lying dead upon the Oaths of Joseph Turner, Patrick Sheehan, Robert Lent, Thomas Jordan, Charles Isaac Haywood, George Fleming and William Chatley - seven, good and lawful men of the said Island and duly chosen and who being then and there duly sworn and charged to enquire for our said Lady the Queen when where how and after what manner the said Susannah Chapman Rayner came to her death do upon their oath say THAT the said Susannah Chapman Rayner on the eleventh day of March in the year aforesaid at Hobart Town aforesaid in the County and Island aforesaid being alone in her room in a certain house there situate, and being then and there smoking a pipe, it so happened that accidentally, causally and by misfortune, some lighted ashes then and there fell from the said pipe upon and into the clothes which she the said Susannah Chapman Rayner then and there had on her body, whereby the said clothes then and there took fire, by means whereof the said Susannah Chapman Rayner was then and there mortally burnt, of which said mortal burning the said Susannah Chapman Rayner there and also at her Majesty's General Hospital at Hobart Town aforesaid from the said eleventh day of March in the year aforesaid until the fifteenth day of the same month in the same year did languish and languishing did live on which said fifteenth day of March in the year aforesaid the said Susannah Chapman Rayner at the Hospital aforesaid in Hobart Town aforesaid within the County and Island aforesaid of the mortal burning aforesaid did die, and by the means aforesaid accidentally and causally and by misfortune came to her death and not otherwise.,IN WITNESS whereof as well the said Coroner as the Jurors aforesaid have to this Inquisition set their Hands and Seals the day and year and place above mentioned.28

Susannah's death was reported in the Mercury under the name Susan Chapman Rayner:

RAYNER.-On Wednesday morning, the 15th instant, Susan Chapman, relict of the late William Rayner, in the 74th year of her age. The funeral will move from the residence of Mr. Thomas Green, 38, Campbell-street, on Saturday, the 18th instant, at half-past 2.pm. friends are respectfully invited to attend.29

  • 1. Quaker Life in Tasmania - Friends and Families: University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania [12 Sep 2007]
  • 2. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania [S.1. A.1. 1833-1857 – [p. 9, Minute 5]
  • 3. Minutes [p. 23, Minute 4]
  • 4. Minutes [p. 26, Minute 9]
  • 5. The life and labours of George Washington Walker, of Hobart Town, Tasmania (1862)
  • 6. Minutes [p. 33, Minute 14]
  • 7. Minutes [p. 33, Minute 15]
  • 8. Minutes [p. 40, Minute 7]
  • 9. Minutes [p. 43]; Minutes [p. 45, Minute 13]; Minutes [p. 53, Minute 7]; Minutes [p. 59]
  • 10. Minutes [p. 61, Minute 5]
  • 11. Minutes [pp. 62-63, Minute 9]; Minutes [p. 64, Minute 12]
  • 12. Minutes [p. 65]
  • 13. Minutes [pp. 66-67, Minutes 6]
  • 14. Colonial Times Tuesday 28 April 1835
  • 15. Hobart Town Gazette 8 October 1835
  • 16. The Hobart Town Courier Friday 17 February 1837
  • 17. The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette Friday 30 August 1839
  • 18. The Courier Friday 4 March 1842
  • 19. Colonial Times Tuesday 16 August 1842
  • 20. AOT Death Registration RGD 1850/417
  • 21. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania
  • 22. Flynn, Michael: XXXX
  • 23. AOT Shipping Departures CUS36/1/378
  • 24. The Courier Thursday 17 February 1859
  • 25. The Hobart Town Daily Mercury Friday 18 February 1859
  • 26. The Mercury Wednesday 1 October 1862
  • 27. AOT Death Registration RGD 1865/4955
  • 28. AOT Inquest SC195/1/49 (Inquest 5882)
  • 29. The Mercury Saturday 18 March 1865