This website is dedicated to William Dawes, 1762 - 1836,
Marine, surveyor / astronomer on the “First Fleet” to Australia,
teacher, Governor of Sierra Leone, and missionary to Antigua.
The information contained herein has been accumulated from a
number of origins, including family history, a variety of genealogy
and historical reference sources and from a other dedicated researchers.
While every attempt has been made to verify the information,
the passage of time and the tyranny of distance make it difficult to
completely confirm all details. However such verification is ongoing.
William Dawes was a man of many talents, but more importantly
he was a man of great compassion, one of the first to recognise
the injustice of slavery. His efforts in this respect were reputedly
passed on to his daughter Judith Dawes.
In 1930, William’s great grand-daughter Annie Currer-Jones
(nee Taylor) wrote a book on the life of William, but this book
was not widely distributed.
Our family, which contains some of William’s few, known,
living descendants, are initiating this website to make his life,
works and genealogy more accessible and hopefully attract additional
information to confirm, fill in the gaps and complete the picture.
We will include a synopsis of William’s life and some of his descendants
and will indicate where more complete details may be found.
Meanwhile the following Timeline is offered.
Timeline of Significant Events during William Dawes’ Life
- 1762 - Baptized 17 March 1762 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
- 1779 - Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Marines on 2 September 1779
- 1781 - Wounded on board HMS Resolution during battle at Chesapeake Bay
- 1787 - Sailed from England on board “Sirius” in Australia’s “First Fleet” on 13 May 1787
- 1787 - Arrived at Santa Cruz, Tenerife on 3 June 1787, left one week later
- 1787 - Arrived Rio de Janeiro on 5 August 1787, left 3 September 1787
- 1787 - Arrived Cape of Good Hope on 13 October 1787, left 12 November 1787
- 1788 - First ships arrive at Botany Bay in Australia on 18 January 1788, rest two days later
- 1788 - Fleet relocates to Sydney Cove, Port Jackson and flag raised for new colony
- 1788 - Discharged from “Sirius” to formalize his on-shore surveying/astronomical duties
- 1788 - 1791 - collected weather data, made astronomical observations and made a number of expeditions into the interior
- 1791 - Left Australia on 18 December 1791 to return to England
- 1792 - Arrived England 18 April 1892
- 1792 - Promoted to 1st Lieutenant
- 1792 - Appointed by Sierra Leone Company as one of three Councillors (Sailed in July)
- 1792 - Arrived Sierra Leone in September
- 1792 - Governor of Sierra Leone (first time) between 31 December 1792 and March 1794
- 1794 - Married to Judith Rutter, 29 May 1794 in Portsea, Hampshire, England
- 1795 - Governor of Sierra Leone (second time) between 6 May 1795 and March 1796
- 1799 - William Rutter Dawes born 19 March 1799
- 1799 - Gave evidence before the House of Lords inquiry into slavery
- 1799 - Mathematical Tutor, Christ’s Hospital - 25 January 1799 to 7 November 1800
- 1800 - Wife Judith died
- 1800 - Left son William Rutter Dawes with his (son’s) grandfather in Portsmouth
- 1801 - Governor of Sierra Leone (third time) between January 1801 and February 1803
- 1801 - Wounded during a skirmish with natives
- 1802 - Offered, but refused Governorship of the Seychelles
- 1803 - Handed over Governorship so he could lay out and allot new lands
- 1803 - Returned to England
- 1804 - 1808 Assisted Church Missionary Society by teaching Susoo language and customs to Missionaries going to Sierra Leone
- 1808 - Appointed as a Commissioner into state of affairs in Sierra Leone
- 1810 - With Ludlam and Columbine reported on deterioration of Sierra Leone
- 1811 - Issued Report on Gold Coast (dated 12 January 1811)
- 1811 - Married to Grace Gilbert, 25 May 1811 in London, England
- 1811 - Issued Report on Slave Trade (dated 27 August 1811)
- 1811 - Issued Report on Sierra Leone and surrounding natives (dated 1 November 1811)
- 1813 - Offered to act as a Church Missionary Society agent and went to Antigua
- 1836 - Died in Antigua, aged 74
Our intention is to include everyone who died before 1980, and,
with the permission of those still living, those who died since then
and those still living.
Uncertain/Undocumented/To be verified
Information needing further authentication will be noted. Anyone
wishing to contribute to this website or who can offer clarifications
or further insights into William’s life and/or activities is invited
to contact us at
Other William Dawes
There have been a number of quite famous people who carried the name William Dawes.
We will identify them and reference sources of further information about them.
We have been greatly aided in our efforts so far by a number of people who will
be acknowledged when the Website is completed, but in particular by Rowena Routh-Kärki,
another descendant of William Dawes from a different branch to ours.
If you have any information to add, find any inaccuracies,
would like us to link to your site, or have any other comments,
please email us at
Links to other sites/other researchers