Convict Histories

William Ganfield (1830 – 1897) (Reg. No. 5170)

By Irma Walter 2020

William Ganfield was born in 1830 at Wedmore, Somerset.[1] His parents were William Ganfield and Elizabeth Smith.[2] He was christened on 27 December 1830.[3] On 29 April 1851 he married Ann Sweet, daughter of George Sweet, in the Wedmore Parish Church. Both were illiterate and recorded as ‘full age’.[4] Their daughter Joanna Ganfield was baptised on 3 July 1854.[5]

At the age of 19 (?), William Ganfield was arrested in January 1853, along with George Davey [or Davie], aged 21, for having in December 1852 stolen a piece of bacon, the property of Joseph Brown of Wrington in Somerset. They were both sentenced to four months’ imprisonment with hard labour.[6]

They didn’t learn their lesson. Four years later in April 1857 William Ganfield and George Davie (alias Millard), both of Bleakway [Blakeway?] in Somerset, were arrested for stealing various building materials and put on trial at Taunton. George Davie was first charged with stealing a hatchet at Wedmore, then for stealing timber from builder James Reed, for which he was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude, due to his previous conviction. William Ganfield was found not guilty of stealing a quantity of joists and rafters from the building site in Wedmore where he was in the employ of James Reed as a bricklayer’s assistant, but was found guilty of stealing a chisel, the property of James Sully from the same site. His earlier conviction was taken into account when he was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude. At the time of his second trial he was referred to as ‘a Ticket of Leave man’.[7]

Convict William Ganfield was brought to Western Australia onboard the Edwin Fox, arriving on 20 November 1858. He was described as aged 29, married with one child, height 5’ 6”, with dark brown hair, light grey eyes, a long face, dark complexion and middling stout in build. He had a cast in his right eye and a cut on his right eyebrow.[8]

Little detail has been found of Ganfield’s activities after his arrival in WA. On 2 February 1859 he was one of twelve men transferred from Fremantle Prison to the Perth Lime Burning Party.[9]

He received his Ticket of Leave on 13 March 1861 at Bunbury.[10] The following day he was hired by Marshall Waller Clifton of Australind as ‘a general labourer at £1.5. and if he suited for a year at £1.10.’ He commenced work on 16 March.[11] However, Marshall Waller Clifton died shortly afterwards, on 10 April 1861.[12] Whether Ganfield was kept on as an employee by the family is not known.

He married Margaret Hall at Australind in 1874. She was the daughter of another expiree, Richard Hall and his wife Hanorah (née McCutchin), of Dardanup. It appears that ten children were registered to William and Margaret Ganfield between 1874 and 1894.[13] The practice of using family nick-names makes them difficult to trace. According to official records, they all survived childhood:

James (?), b. at Collie, 1874. [Registered to ‘James’ Ganfield and Margaret Hall.]

Elizabeth, b. Brunswick, 1875.

Robert, b. Bunbury 1880.

William James, b. Bunbury 1882.

Richard John, b. Bunbury, 1883.

Edward, b. Bunbury 1886.
Henrietta, b. Bunbury 1889.

Mildred Maria, b. Bunbury 1891.

Hilda Jane, b. Bunbury, 1893.

Margaret Maud, b. Bunbury 1894.[14]

Ganfield was employed at a Bunbury flour mill when he had a serious accident:

A man named William Ganfield, an employé at Mr. Robert Forrest’s flour mill, was seriously injured last evening through a bag of flour falling upon him. He was taken to the hospital, where he now lies. He is supposed to have received severe internal injuries, and he is considered to be in a critical condition.[15]

With a large family to support, William needed employment, despite ongoing health problems. An entry in the 1885 Almanack lists William Ganfield of Bunbury as a carter.[16]

The large Ganfield family became well-known in Bunbury, participating in a variety of social, church and sporting activities. The children attended the Bunbury Catholic School.[17]

William’s health problems continued, so a fund-raiser was held on his behalf in 1895:

Fancy Dress Football Match at Bunbury – A collection will be made in aid of Mr. William Ganfield, who has been on the sick list some time and unable to work. The match promises to be very interesting.[18]

After suffering poor health for several years, in 1897 William Ganfield, formerly of Somerset, died at the age of 65. His parents were named on his death certificate as William Ganfield and Elizabeth (née Smith).[19]

Margaret Ganfield outlived her husband by many years. She died in the Wellington District in October 1930 at the age of 76. The following obituaries were published in honour of her passing:

GANFIELD.-On October 17, 1930, at St. John of God Hospital, Bunbury, Margaret, relict of the late William Ganfield, and loving mother of Lizzie (Mrs. C. Hanson), Harry (deceased), Robert, William, Richard, Edward, Annie (Mrs. H. Laudehl), Hilda (Mrs. F. Donnelly), and Maud (Mrs. W. Underwood), aged 76 years.[20]


A very old and respected resident of Bunbury, in the person of Mrs. Margaret Ganfield, passed away at St. John of God Hospital on Friday last. The deceased lady who was born at Dardanup 76 years ago had resided in the district practically all her life. The deceased leaves eight children, 35 grand-children and 11 great-grand-children to mourn their loss. Her funeral took place on Saturday last and was largely attended.

The chief mourners were Robert, William and Edward (sons), Lizzie (Mrs. C. Hanson), Annie (Mrs. H. Laudher), Hilda (Mrs F. Donnelly) and Maud (Mrs. W. Underwood) (daughters), Mrs. Naylor and Mrs. White (sisters), and Mr. J. Hall (brother). The pall-bearers were Messrs A. Delaporte, K. Delaporte, G. Gibson, F. Jarvis, C. Pearless and J. Milligan.[21]

Ganfield is a well-known name around Bunbury. There is a Ganfield Street in Carey Park.


[1] Wilton Gaol Description Book, 3 July 1857.

[2] William Ganfield’s death record in WA,

[3] Church of England baptisms for Wedmore, Somerset.

[4] Somerset Marriage Registers for Wedmore, 1837-1858.

[5] Somerset Baptisms for Wedmore, 1854.

[6] Wells Journal, 8 January 1853.

[7] Bridgwater Mercury, 9 July 1857.

[8] Convict Ships to WA, at

[9] Convict Department, Receipts and Discharges (RD1-RD2)

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

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

[12] Ibid., p.658

[13] Department of Justice, Births Deaths and Marriages at

[14] Ibid.

[15] West Australian, 24 March 1893.

[16] R. Erickson, Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, at, p.1148.

[17] Record, 2 May 1889.

[18]Bunbury Herald, 12 October 1895.

[19] Department of Justice, Births Deaths and Marriages at

[20] Western Mail, 30 October 1930.

[21] South Western Tribune, 25 October 1930.