James Williams and Noah Mortimer at Big Lagoon

Three years after his first wife’s death James was living with Mary Faulkner, who was listed in the Muster in Jericho on a Ticket-of-Leave. She was then 23 and serving seven years transportation for larceny imposed by the Lancaster Quarter Sessions on 22 July 1817. She was sentenced with Margaret Lowden.

She appears in the convict records as Mary Fawkner, but is more commonly spelt Faulkner. She apparently was also known by a number of other first names including Mary Ann, Joanne, Ellen.

In 1821 her son Henry Williams Faulkner was baptised and the father was recorded as James. When mustered in 1823 she was recorded as being a servant of James Williams in Ross (probably an error and should have been Jericho). In 1824 she had another son baptised as James. It seems that although not married James Williams and Mary, now known as Joanne Ellen, were a family. (Living with two women in succession with the same name was certainly enough reason for the second to change her first name).

When his sister and brother-in-law began serving their sentences for sheep stealing James Williams was at Big Lagoon with Noah Mortimer. Magistrate Gregson referred to the Misses Faulkner and Ann Geary as concubines of James Williams and Noah Mortimer.

Between 1821 and 1825 Noah had increased his land to nearly 800 acres. He was now 75 and was living with Ann Geary, the wife of Dennis, near James at Lake Tiberias. Dennis Geary may have also lived there but he died in Launceston in July 1827 aged 63. Noah and James probably existed by trading in stock, most of it not theirs. They must have known about, and may have been involved in, the theft of the sheep for which the Davises were convicted. Around 1825 Noah got involved in a three cornered dispute over the sale of land at Lake Tiberias. It was agreed that Noah would pay with 13 cattle and a note for £100 payable in two years. James had delivered most of the cattle but part of the money still owed and the time had expired.
John Weavill arrived in V.D.L. in January 1823 and received, the following month, an order for a location of 600 acres of land. In May 1823 he selected and took possession of this land at Jericho, then disposed of it immediately to Noah Mortimer for £300. In part payment Weavill received 14 head of cattle Valued at £200. In September or October 1823, Weavill entered into a treaty with Alexander Paterson for the same land. Weavill stated that subsequent to the sale, Mr. Evans, the Surveyor General, declared that Mortimer should never be permitted to hold land, as he was a notorious and reputed sheep-stealer. Therefore Weavill resolved to find another purchaser and allowed Mortimer to have goods on credit to repay the purchase money. He later admitted that he never told Mortimer of the intended second sale. (Burbury)

When T G Gregson attempted to resolve the dispute Noah sent James along in his place to give evidence. Noah also sent a note saying he could not attend as Ann Geary was in town with his papers. Gregson referred to Misses Faulkner and Geary as concubines. In an affidavit given in support of Noah, Roderick O’Connor wrote ‘Mortimore is a man of the lowest scale of ignorance and by all accounts a man of exceeding bad character but Weavell (the other party), is also infamous and has no case.’ Noah kept the land



Mary (Joanne) Faulkner had received her freedom on 11 February 1825. While James was in Hobart in March 1827 awaiting trial Noah Mortimer and Ann Geary were at Lake Tiberius as were James’ common-law-wife Mary Faulkner and their two sons Henry Williams Faulkner and James Williams II. In order to stem the theft of stock from the unfenced farms in the Midlands the Government rewarded informants. Consequently it was tempting to current or former convicts to accuse each other of this practice in return for a reduction in sentences. The Police appeared to be cracking down on the practice by arresting people and were probably not too concerned when the cases collapsed.

In September 1827, nine months after the trial of James Williams Mary was charged by Noah Mortimer and Ann Geary with stealing and branding 18 of Geary’s cattle. It seems James had decided to cut his ties with Noah Mortimer and remain in Hobart. Mary Faulkner and her two sons were seemingly likewise abandoned.

Mary and David Barber

Although the charge was dismissed it may have been enough to convince Mary Faulkner to leave Noah and Ann Geary. We know that by 1830 Mary Faulkner and her two sons, Henry Williams 9 and Jemmy (James) aged about seven were now living with David Barber on Constitution Hill, now Dysart.; it seems likely that arrangement began around September 1827. Noah and Ann Geary stayed at Lake Tiberias but Ann Geary was killed by natives near Mortimer’s hut at Big Lagoon, Oatlands.

In 1829 David and Mary Ann had a daughter they named Mary Ann and five years later another girl they called Hannah.

Young Henry in trouble

On 16 April 1830 William Christopher, known as Black Bill because he was from the West Indies, returned to his hut on Constitution Hill to find Henry Williams and his dog running away. Bill found two of his fowls dead, and his possessions trashed. Christopher then walked the 400 metres to Henry’s home where he confronted Mary Faulkner and her partner David Barber: both refused to give Christopher ‘satisfaction’. ‘You may take the boy and lag him’ said Mary. (Slang for transportation.) So Black Bill reported the matter to the Oatlands Magistrate, Thomas Anstey.

Anstey locked up the young vandal and took evidence from Christopher, David Barber and Henry. No one held any grudges and Henry admitted destroying Christopher’s property and killing his fowls. He had no explanation for his actions. ‘I don’t know why I did it…’ nor did he say why he asked his little brother Jemmy (James) to go with him.

Barber’s evidence tells us something about the background. He knew exactly how old Henry was and who his father was, but only that James was between five and six. He believed Henry’s father died ‘about three years ago’ at Big Lagoon. He did not say how long Mary and the boys had been living with him. He considered James to be ‘of good disposition’ but Henry was not; ‘he is addicted to lying’ and he acquired his bad habits from Noah Mortimer, Anne Geary and others who lived at Big Lagoon’. He did not blame the boys father and it might be assumed that he only went off the rails after his father disappeared. How Mary Faulkner managed to find a new home with David Barber is unknown.

Anstey now had a problem – what to do with a nine year-old criminal. ‘Why not send him to the orphan school and let them look after him’. So he suggested this to the Colonial Secretary. But the Secretary said –‘To place this boy, so depraved as he is, in the Orphan Establishment would be injurious to it.’ His suggestion was to send him to Maria Island where he could go to school and learn a trade. ‘The sooner this boy is out of Hobart the better’. Anstey was asked to get Mary’s approval to this action. Anstey’s constable Jorgen Jorgenson took the young miscreant back to his mother ‘who expressed her sincere acknowledgement and thanks for the favour conferred by his Excellency on the boy. He is perfectly at the disposal of the Government’. Perhaps Mary expressed her consent in more earthy language but the problem was solved. David Barber would take him to Hobart en route to Maria Island.

Barber asked Jorgenson where he should deliver the boy. It appears the answer was ‘on the boy’s arrival he may be placed on any Government vessel’. At this time (early May 1830) Jane Davis and her husband William were on Maria Island finishing their sentence for sheep stealing. They were on the register of convicts at the Island but Henry was not, nor was the Davis’ child Amelia who was born at Macquarie Harbour. The two children were not on the register as they were not convicts. It seems that Jorgenson may have had some doubts about the legality of sending Henry to Maria Island and he asked to be shown the legal authority.

Mary marries at last

It seems David Barber died in 1844. In the 1842 he is listed as head of a household of eight people in a house at Green Ponds (now Kempton) owned by a minor Scottish aristocrat Thomas Learmonth. In 1843 he had leased a cottage and 50 acres of land at Pontville. The property was advertised for lease in March as Barber’s lease was expiring. It seems he left two daughters, Mary Ann and Hannah.In March 1847 Mary Ann Barber, now 18, married Thomas Arthur, aka Bailey, at Green Ponds. She was already pregnant with her first child Elizabeth. Sometime before 1852 Hannah married James Newman.

Mary Faulkner now known as Mary Barber married a local farmer, John Dain (aka Dean) in 1851, the same year that her former partner James Williams died. John was the 47 and she about 50. He was a ploughman from Leistershire who was transported on the Theresa in 1845 who obtained a Ticket of Leave in June 1850 and worked as an overseer for John Lord at York Plains. When Dain was sentenced he was a widower with one child. Mary had seemingly never previously been married. However the marriage did not last long as John Dain was soon again a widower.

On the night of 11 May 1852 Mary was staying with her daughter Hannah, then 17, and her son-in-law James Newman in their house on the banks of the River Jordan at Broadmarsh. James was a shoemaker. During the night heavy rain and wind continued and James Newman was concerned about their neighbour Mrs Hull(Hutt) and her children. James walked the 50 yards to Mrs Hull’s house and tried to raise her. Because her husband was away she did not answer the door. While he was there Hannah and Mary Ann apparently attempted to reach the hill near the house but were washed away. Mary’s body was found later some distance away on Henry Butler’s land. Mary Dain was buried in St Augustine’s graveyard at Broadmarsh on 25 July 1852. John Dain remarried in 1860 and died in 1883.

Mary Ann Barber and her husband Thomas had ten more children after Elizabeth. Their second son Edwin married Augusta Lucy Nicholson a daughter of Amelia Luttrell who was born in Black Brush in 1830. After Lucy’s father died her mother married Henry James Faulkner a grandson of Mary Ann Dain and James Williams I.