Convict Histories

William Lambert (1802 – ?) (Reg. No. 1336)

By Irma Walter, 2020.

It has proved difficult to find details of William Lambert’s origins and his subsequent life served in the penal colony of Western Australia. Fremantle Prison convict records show his birth as 1802, making him one of the older convicts sent to WA. His sentence was ten years for the crime of forgery, committed on 12 May 1851. British criminal records for that date show a William Lambert convicted in the Central Criminal Court of forging and uttering a receipt for payment of 10s., with intent to defraud the Postmaster General. At the time Lambert was residing in a lodging house in Drury Lane when he stole a letter addressed to another boarding house lodger containing the receipt which he cashed before going out and getting drunk. The Central Criminal Court record states that for this crime he received a sentence of transportation for seven years.[1] However the Middlesex Criminal Register for that date has an entry for William Lambert, convicted of forging and uttering a receipt for money, with a sentence of 10 years recorded.[2]

Lambert was taken onboard the convict ship William Jardine at Plymouth, the ship leaving harbour on 3 May 1852 and arriving at Fremantle on 1 August 1852. On arrival in WA Lambert was described as aged 50, a shoemaker and widower, 5’ 8 ¾” tall, with dark brown hair, black eyes, a round face, fresh complexion, slight in build, with a scar on his left ankle.[3]

Lambert obtained his Ticket of Leave on 24 November 1853. He was self-employed by 1856, when records show him employing four ticket-of-leave men (three of them shoemakers in 1856 and 1863) at Guildford and Perth.[4]

He must have served time for another crime in WA, but details have not been found. William Lambert (Reg. No. 1336) was one of six prisoners received back at Fremantle Prison from a Sutherland Bay working party on 20 July 1858.[5]

In 1860 he was in the Bunbury area when Marshall Waller Clifton recorded in his journal that Lambert the shoemaker had called in at Australind.[6] A few months later on 27 May 1860 Clifton wrote that Lambert had informed him that the Amelia had arrived in Bunbury.[7]

In 1863 Lambert was awarded his Certificate of Freedom. No further record of him has been found in WA, perhaps indicating that he may have left the Colony.


[1] Central Criminal Court Records, Ref. No. t185 105 12 – 1072.

[2] England & Wales Criminal Registers, Middlesex, 1851.

[3] Convicts to Australia,

[4] Rica Erickson, Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australia, p.1872, at

[5] Convict Establishment, Receipts & Discharges, (RD1 – RD2)

[6] Barnes, Cameron et al, The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840 – 1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, WA, 2010.

[7] Ibid.