Convict Histories

William Carmichael (1827 – ?) (Reg. No. 5460)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

William Carmichael was a clerk and soldier in the 76th Foot Regiment at Fredericktown, New Brunswick in Canada, when he was convicted of desertion on 22 June 1850 and sentenced to transportation for life. His record shows that he underwent two Regimental Court Martials and one District Court Martial.[1] Where these were held is not known. Since the 76th Foot Regiment was formed in Scotland in the 1800s, it’s likely that William Carmichael was born there.

Carmichael didn’t arrive in Fremantle until 19 August 1859, after leaving the port of Plymouth, England, on 19 August 1859 onboard the Sultana. He was described as a single man, aged 28 at time of conviction, could read and write well. His behaviour was good during the voyage.[2] He was 5’9” tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes, a long face, fresh complexion, of spare build, and a ‘D’ on his left side.[3] On arrival he received a four-month remission from His Excellency as a result of a special recommendation by the Surgeon Superintendent. His record while in Solitary Confinement was Good, on Public Works – V. Good, during Embarkation – 1, and Voyage – V. Good.[4]

Carmichael’s record in Western Australia indicates a determination to begin a new life:-

13 May 1859 – Made a constable.

19 Dec. 1859 – Transferred to Perth Prison.[5]

7 Feb. 1860 – C.E. (?)

7 Feb. 1860 – Diagnosed with Phthisis (Tuberculosis). [6]

29 Feb. 1860 – Provisional Prisoner, received back from Sutherland Bay. Sent back there same day.[7]

12 Mar. 1860 – Transferred to Guildford.[8]

20 Oct. 1860 – A further remission of three months by His Excellency for arresting an absconder.

4 Jan. 1861 – His Excellency authorised immediate discharge.

19 Jan. 1861 – Received his Ticket of Leave at Guildford.[9]

Oct. 1865 – Applied for a Conditional Pardon.

24 Apr. 1866 – Conditional Pardon sent to the Resident Magistrate at Bunbury,

6 Oct. 1866 – Received his Conditional Pardon.[10]

On 15 March 1861, Marshall Waller Clifton briefly recorded in his journal that – ‘A Man named Carmichael sent down by Charley as Footman arrived – but Mamma having engaged Mary Ann & Mrs Allen as Parlor Maid did not wish me to engage him & I sent him on to Pearce’s.[11]

Where William was employed after that is not known. One record has him employed as a teacher at the Ferguson School in 1865.[12] Another record has him there in 1867.[13]

With no record of a marriage or a death for William Carmichael in WA, it is likely that he left the colony as soon as he could afford it. His diagnosis of phthisis in 1860 indicates a short life span.


[1] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R8)

[2] Convict Department Register, (128/38-39)

[3] Convict Ships to WA, at

[4] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R8)

[5] Convict Department, Receipts and Discharges (RD3-RD4)

[6] Convict Establishment, Medical, Register of Admissions & Discharges from Hospital (M32)

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Convict Department Registers, Character Book (R8)

[10] Convict Department General Register (R21B)

[11] P Barnes, JM Cameron, HA Willis, The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Carlyle, WA, 2010, p.655.

[12] Ex-convict school teachers in Western Australia,

[13] Rica Erickson, Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians,, p.471.