Broughton Family

William Broughton 1768-1821 Artist Unknown featured in ‘Founder of Australia’ by Mollie Gillen, courtesy Australasian Pioneers’ Club

Public servant and settler William Broughton arrived in the transport Charlotte accompanying Surgeon White as a servant. Son of Sarah and Henry Broughton, he was born in Chatham, Kent in the year 1768.

On arrival in Sydney Cove, William became a storekeeper at Rose Hill (Parramatta) and in 1800 was appointed Acting Deputy Commissary of Norfolk Island and later Deputy Commissary of stores in Sydney Town. He worked diligently in these positions and was praised by Governor Macquarie.


In 1814 he became Acting Assistant Commissary General and was sent to Hobart Town where he became a JP, a Magistrate of the Colony and a Director and major shareholder of the Bank of NSW. Between the years 1792 and 1807 he fathered five children to Elizabeth Heathorn (alias Ann Glossop) who had arrived as a convict on Pitt in 1792.


The blowing up of the ‘Boyd’ by Louis John Steel 1889 (Wikipedia)

In 1809, Elizabeth took her youngest child Betsy (aged 2) on a trip back to England on the Boyd. Whilst at Whangaroa in New Zealand, the crew and passengers were attacked by Maoris. All were killed (and possibly eaten) except for the child Betsy, a Mrs Morley and a cabin boy of fifteen with a club foot, who it is thought was spared by the Maori’s superstition. Betsy was later returned to Sydney Town (via Lima, Peru) to live to the age of 84. She married Charles Throsby jnr; lived most of her life at Bowral and died after producing seventeen children. Legend has it that during her long life she was never seen without high necked dresses and long sleeves as she had been tattooed by the Maoris.

In 1810 William Broughton married Eliza Charlotte, a widow from Nettlestead, Kent. Eliza had arrived on Sovereign in 1795 and there were five children to the marriage.

William died in 1821 and his wife in 1843 at Wollongong.  His gravestone now stands in the Memorial Park adjacent to St Lukes Liverpool, NSW.


Article featured in the First Fleet Folio December 1987

Readers may be interested in more detail on the saving of the two year old child Betsy Broughton, and the other three survivors, Mrs Morley, her infant daughter and the cabin boy Thomas Davison.  They owed their lives to the courage and determination of Alexander Berry who was the Supercargo on the ship, the City of Edinburgh.  While loading spars at the Bay of Islands, news reached him that the Boyd had been seized and the crew and passengers slaughtered.

Maori Chief Te-pahi from New Zealand history on-line

Berry and his crew set out for the scene of the massacre Whangaroa, 50 miles nor’west.  They found the Boyd a total burnt-out wreck.  This disaster was the result of Captain Thompson’s hasty dealings with a slight theft by a Maori.  The Chief, Te-pahi, a proud old savage who had been a frequent and honoured guest at the Governor’s table in Port Jackson, was highly offended.  The retribution for this insult was horrific.

Captain Thompson went ashore with four men and a fowling piece.  On landing they were rushed by the natives, the Captain fired and a child was killed.  This episode was seen by the fifty natives who had insinuated themselves aboard the Boyd.  At once they rose up and killed the passengers and the crew.  The boy Davison escaped by hiding in the hold where he stayed for several days.  On deck a victory orgy of cannibalism was taking place.  Mrs Morley was discovered by an old savage who spared her life.  He was spared for a fortnight after which he was killed and eaten.

Elizabeth Isabella Broughton (Betsy), a watercolour by an unknown artist. Reproduction of illustration supplied by Patricia McWilliams

Berry relates that after a few days the Maoris, under threat of reprisals, brought back the young woman (Mrs Morley), her infant daughter and young Davison.  Berry then learned that another survivor, the child Betsy Broughton was still being held captive.  He demanded her return.  She was brought back the next morning …tolerably clean with its hair ornamented in the fashion of New Zealand.  Its only clothing was a linen shirt which had belonged to the dead Captain.  The child, greatly emaciated, kept crying ‘Mamma, my Mamma!  Although so young, the child remembered seeing her mother killed, cut-up and cooked.

Berry left New Zealand on the 6 January 1810, with the survivors, bound for Lima, which was reached in August 1810, and there they stayed for ten months during which time Mrs Morley died.  Berry reports that the children were greatly loved by the humane Spaniards and cared for with devotion.

From Lima, the City of Edinburgh sailed around the Cape Horn to Rio de Janeiro which was reached in December 1811. They found in the harbour a small sailing ship, the Atlanta, about to sail for Port Jackson.  The two girls were transferred into the care of the Captain to return them to Australia.  There is no record of what happed to baby Morley, but Betsy Broughton was returned to her father.  She married, had seventeen children and died in January 1891.

Davison returned to England from South America, but later returned to Australia and worked for Berry who became a large landowner with interest in whaling and sealing.  Davison was drowned at Shoalhaven when he was twenty seven years old.

The complete story of Alexander Berry was written by James Jarvis (Vol.27 of the Journals of the Australian History Society 1941)It makes exciting reading.  When Berry died at the age of 92 in September 1873, he left a fortune.  His estate was valued at #1,252,875.00 pounds from which he bequeathed £100,000 pounds to establish a hospital near Nowra and £100,000 to the University of St Andrews in Scotland where he had studied medicine eighty years previously.


Article featured in First Fleet Folio July 1985

City of Edinburgh
The City of Edinburgh had been contracted to transfer Norfolk Islanders to the Derwent in September 1808, some had been First Fleet convicts, free by servitude, and with large families.

Alexander Berry who  saved the survivors of the ‘Boyd’ tradegy (Wikipedia)


After Alexander Berry left Rio de Janeiro, the City of Edinburgh ran into storms, she became waterlogged and had to be abandoned off the Azores.  Her crew and passengers were landed safely and Berry went on to Lisbon.









Further reading:
Alexander Berry, Merchant and Settler:  A.D.B. Vol 1, 1788-1850, A-H
Gillen, Mollie (1989) The Founders of Australia – A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet Library of Australian History, Sydney
Maori Chief Te-pahi – New Zealand on-line


© First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc 2011