William Bryant (1819-1896)

Benenden Village Green and historic St George’s Church

This is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of articles about a whole range of interesting ancestors, revolving around dates that were relevant in their lives. This first post is for William Bryant, son of our first Bryant family member to migrate to Australia from Kent in England. Bryant was a quite common name in the counties of Kent and Sussex towards to middle of the nineteenth century.

William Bryant (Briant) was baptised on this day, 20 August 1820, in the Parish Church in the village of Benenden in Kent. He was born on 16 March 1819 at Benenden the eldest child to parents William and Ann (Austin) Bryant.

His father was an agricultural labourer who like many from rural southern England had been impacted by the industrial revolution, poor harvests and a general downturn in the economy. As a result it was decided that the family should to move to New South Wales under the Bounty immigration scheme. So, on 25 March 1838 William snr, Ann and their seven children set sail from Gravesend on the 610 ton barque Westminster bound for Sydney, part of a total of over 250 men, women and children emigrants.

The Westminster arrived in Sydney on 26 June 1838 and the Sydney Herald of 28

June reported that:

“We certainly never saw an emigrant ship exhibit so much order and cleanliness, on her arrival, as the

as the Westminster. She has also made an extra-ordinary quick passage….

Gravestone of William and Ann Bryant Rookwood

There have been ten deaths, principally children, and nine births during the voyage.”

William was nineteen when in arrived in Sydney and was engaged by a William Gurner for £25 per annum, with rations. He was educated in England and could both read and write.

It is uncertain if they knew each other in England, but on 15 December 1840 at Christ Church, Parish of St. Lawrence, Sydney, William married Ann Gilbert, the daughter of William Gilbert and Priscilla (Hodge), who had also recently arrived from Kent. The young couple made their home variously in the Redfern and Waterloo areas where they raised their eleven children. William joined the railways where he worked until he retired. He was very active in local politics as an Alderman becoming Mayor of the Municipality of Waterloo; in 1860 and later Mayor of a newly formed Alexandria Council in 1871.

His wife Ann died in 1877 at their Redfern home and several years later at the age of 63 years he married a widow, Ann Jane Starr, in 1883. He died on 29 August 1896 at 40 Marian Street, Redfern, NSW, Australia, aged 77. He was buried on 31 August 1896 at Rookwood Cemetery, Rookwood’s Old Wesleyan (Methodist) Cemetery (Zone A, Section 2A, Row 11, 603).