Are you our William Russell? Part 1.

A few months back I wrote a post saying goodbye to William Russell. Many with Australian Gransden family links had thought of him as our William Russell for a long time but the proof had been mounting up that he was not our William Russell. But of course the story doesn’t stop there, no story ever stops there. Myself and others have continued to look for our William Russell. A number of potential William Russells have come and gone and a number of different people have followed up on likely William Russells. In particular Sylvia Murray was incredibly helpful with suggestions and with one potential William Russell that looked a very good candidate for some time. But the more we found out about that William Russell the less likely he looked.

One William Russell I had discounted some time ago started to come up as more likely than was originally thought. His name was William Galloway Russell and as the middle name seemed to be important but then didn’t appear in any records other than his convict records I had come to feel that William Galloway Russell was an unlikely William Russell but all of that has changed recently.

Some time ago I found a newspaper article about a William Russell who had come in from Rockley to Bathurst as a Vagrant claiming that he had no friends in Rockley and was unable to look after himself any longer.

VAGRANCY. – William Russell, 70 years of age, was charged with vagrancy. He had come into town from Rockley and applied at the lock-up for relief, seeking admission into the Benevolent Asylum. He said he was without friends and was suffering from rheumatism.

The Bench gave him an order for admission into the Bathurst Hospital, from which place he could be forwarded to the Benevolent Asylum if proved to be a fit subject.

1882 ‘POLICE COURT.’, Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 – 1904), 18 November, p. 2. , viewed 17 Apr 2016,

This seemed like a very likely candidate for our William Russell. He was in Rockley a known area for our Russell family. George, Isaac, William, Charles and Catherine Russell had all been born at Rockley. Later family members were married and Christened in Bathurst but as Rockley is in the Bathurst district this was not unusual. But, having one newspaper article does not prove a link and does not give any indication of what may have happened either later or earlier in life.

The obvious place to search was the Benevolent Society of NSW on searching through the records for the Benevolent Society I came across three William Russell’s that I though may be the William Russell from the News article. So I wrote to the Benevolent Society researches to get more information about the William Russell’s that had been in their records. I received a lovely email in response that explained to me that the Benevolent Society of New South Wales had stopped taking men in during the 1860’s and all of the records that I was interested in referred to children rather than elderly men. This was a disappointment.

At this stage I left the News Paper clipping for a while. I was unsure what to look for next and had other priorities, so like many research questions in Family History, sometimes it is best to give them a bit of space. A couple of months after I received a response from the Benevolent Society Sylvia Murray contacted me with some details on a possible link to Mary Ann Russell- written about here, and a possible William Russell. This enthused me to start hunting again. First I focused on Sylvia’s possible William Russell who sounded so promising but in the end it was decided that it was unlikely to be the correct one. So back to the Newspaper article.

At this stage I decided to contact the NSW State Archives and talk to someone in person. They went through the search process for Asylums and Hospitals with me but despite doing a number of searches we came up with a blank. However, the lady I was talking to explained to me that there were a lot of local Asylums and they did not come under one State Body. So I decided to do a search for a local Bathurst Benevolent Society. It appeared that at in the 1880- 1890’s there was no Benevolent Society Asylum operating in Bathurst and instead people were sent to either Parramatta or Liverpool. Another newspaper search lead me to believe that the most likely place that the William Russell from the above newspaper clipping would have been sent was the Liverpool Asylum rather than the Parramatta Asylum.

Back to the New South Wales Archives as they were supposed to have records for the Liverpool Asylum but they did not. So I did a more detailed search into the records that they held. Under “I” for Infirm were the details for the Asylum Records that have been digitised. There was a nice little line that said-

  • Volumes [7/3801-3805], alphabetical listing of surnames commencing C-D; H-O; S-U only

As I was looking for Russell the surname I was after fell in between the books that had been digitised so my William Russell was not going to be in the records. But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to be there. So now I had a likely institution- Liverpool Asylum and as New South Wales Archives has been working with it was just possible that there were copies of the record books on Ancestry.

I did a couple of searches on Ancestry and managed to find an admission for William Russell, just a couple of days after the newspaper article, in the Liverpool Asylum. This seemed likely but I could not confirm that this William Russell had come from Bathurst. Further searches page by page of the registers showed me another record, less than a year later. This had William Russell same admission date but with discharge details as well. This showed that William Russell from Bathurst had died on the 16th of July 1883. The admission date was the same as the one I had found earlier. The register also gave when William Russell had entered the country and the ship that he had arrived on, the Andromeda in 1833.

So, now I had a date of arrival and a ship, this is like gold for a family historian. I didn’t know if this William Russell had been a convict or a free settler but having a ship and a date made it easy to find out. So I did an internet search for William Russell Andromdea 1833. A number of pages came up, all convict pages with this information-

Convict Name: William Russell (The younger) Gullaway
Trial Place: Surrey Quarter Session
Trial Date: 3 July 1832
Sentence: 7 years
Arrival Details
Ship: Andromeda II (2)
Arrival Year: 1833

This gave me a whole lot of new directions to search in. I now had another name to search under- Galloway. A series of searches gradually helped me to flesh out William Russell and piece together whether or not he had been in the Bathurst region for a long time or if he has just turned up in his later years before being sent to the Liverpool Asylum.

Are you our William Russell? Part 2


Are you our William Russell? Part 1. — 8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Are you Our William Russell? Part 2 | Gransden Family

  2. Hi, I have been reading these articles with interest for some time. This started from trying to find out more on my family history. My name is Wayne Raymond Russell, born 6/5/55 in Ipswich Qld. My father(deceased) was Clifford Raymond Russell also born in Ipswich Qld. I have confirmed from death certificates that my Grandfather was Herbert Raymond Russell born in Bathurst NSW the son of George Cole Russell, who I understand was the son of Isaac Russell who’s father was William Russell???

    • Hi my name is Michelle Stevens.
      My grandfather was Harold James Russell born in 1896 at Rockley nsw.
      Harold Married Daisy Agnes Thompson in Grenfell Nsw.
      They had 10 children, my mum Diane was second youngest.
      Love your web site.

      • Thank you, I am so glad that it has been helpful. I am hoping that you have got some really interesting stuff from my site. The Russell family is one of my favourites.

  3. Hi my name is Michelle Stevens.
    My grandfather was Harold James Russell born in 1896 at Rockley nsw.
    Harold Married Daisy Agnes Thompson in Grenfell Nsw.
    They had 10 children, my mum Diane was second youngest.
    Love your web site.

  4. Hi and thank you for the great read.

    I too am struggling with finding my William Russell. All I really know about him is that he was a shipwrightand had a son in 1828 named George William Russell in Sydney, NSW.

    In your investigations did you happen to find anything that falls into those categories? There are sooo many of them!

    • Hi Jarrod,
      I don’t know I am sorry. As I put things aside I didn’t investigate them further. However, where I found I could get the most useful comparative information so that I could eventually find my William Russell was through this website the membership isn’t that expensive and you can search on a name and go through all of the related early records. I just went name by name and excluded what I was able too and then started researching who I couldn’t exclude easily.
      Good luck.

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