William Audy (ca. 1811 – 1868), a sailor from Quebec, was convicted of housebreaking in Montreal, Canada in 1836 and sentenced to transportation for life. The 27-year-old was sent firstly to England, where he was held in the hulk Justitia on the Thames River, and then to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney on the Waterloo (1838). In November 1845, Audy was recommended for a ticket of leave for Moreton Bay. In 1866, after 20 years in Queensland, Audy was sent from Toowoomba to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on Stradbroke Island. He died there in August 1868 and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Research by Jan Penrose, a descendant of William Audy’s younger brother Laurent Audy, has established that their parents were Laurent Phillipe Roy-Audy and Marie Euphrosine Audy (née Reeves) of Quebec City. William, born ca. 1811, and his siblings were orphaned when their father died in 1828, followed by the death of their mother during the 1832 cholera epidemic. As the eldest son, William worked on the steam packets on the St Lawrence River to support his siblings and widowed grandmother.

Audy and another man were tried in 1836 for stealing tea, butter and other items from a house in Montreal and selling them to a tavern keeper as smuggled goods. After spending about a year on the Justitia prison hulk in England, Audy was transported to Sydney on the Waterloo in 1838. He was described as single with no children and had a ‘dark sallow’ complexion, brown hair and ‘chestnut’ eyes. Audy, a sailor, had multiple tattoos including a mermaid, woman, fish, flag and anchor, as well as ‘Marcheline Bauchant’ and the initials ‘WAMB’ (perhaps representing ‘William Audy Marcheline Bauchant’). In Sydney his sailing and maritime experience was put to use working on Cadman’s boat crew, but in December 1842 he was apprehended after running away.

By November 1845, Audy was recommended for a ticket of leave for Moreton Bay, which was issued on 7 March 1846. As the ticket was issued by the Brisbane Bench, it seems likely that Audy was already working in the Moreton Bay area. It did not take long for Audy to clash with the authorities. In June 1847 he appeared before the Ipswich Court of Petty Sessions charged with stealing a saddle and bridle from Duncan Ferguson, overseer to Mr Sandeman. Four years later in 1851, he absconded from the service of J. Smith of the Wivenhoe Hotel. Audy was described in an advertisement offering a reward for his apprehension as ‘William Audrey [sic], a Native of Canada, better known by the name Yankey, formerly in the service of Major North, Brisbane River’.

In November 1851 Audy’s ticket of leave for Moreton Bay was cancelled as he was ‘absent from the district’ and no further mention of him can be found until October 1866 when was sent from Toowoomba to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on Stradbroke Island. When Audy arrived at Dunwich, he stated that he was 69 years old and had been born in Quebec to Lawrence Audy, a carpenter, and Eupprosyne [sic] Reeves, both deceased. Furthermore, he stated that he had been transported from Canada on the ship Waterloo in 1838 and that after coming to Moreton Bay in 1845, he worked as a cook for Messrs Kennedy, Ivory, Rae and North. He also stated that he worked on the government barge with Mr Kent and steered the steamer Experiment to Limestone [Ipswich] in 1846 or 1847. Audy was described as ‘quite blind’ and having no relatives in the colony. He died at Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on 19 August 1868 and is buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave at the Dunwich Cemetery.

Note: Information regarding William Audy’s parents and early life in Canada was provided by descendant Jan Penrose to Jan Richardson in 2018. A brief summary of this information was also posted by Jan Penrose to the Community Contributions section of William Audy’s entry on the Convict Records of Australia website in 2021 (see link below).


Jan Richardson, ‘William Audy (ca. 1811 – 1868)’, Harry Gentle Resource Centre, Griffith University, 2022, https://harrygentle.griffith.edu.au/life-stories/william-audy/.

Archival Resources

The National Archives UK, Home Office, Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books, Class HO9, Piece 13.

William Audy received 19 July 1837 on board the ship Justitia, moored at Woolwich, Kent.

New South Wales State Archives (NSWSA), Indent, NRS 12189, Item X641, Microfiche 732.

William Audy per Waterloo (1838).

NSWSA, Ticket of Leave, NRS 12202, Item 4/4205, Reel 958.

William Audy per Waterloo 5 (1838), No. 46/471, 7 March 1846.

Queensland State Archives, Register of Personal Details Relating to Persons Admitted to Dunwich Benevolent Asylum (Males), Item ID ITM9518.

William Audy, Entry No. 79, admitted 25 October 1866.


The Campbell's Wharf theft, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Dec 1842, p. 2.

Runaways apprehended, New South Wales Government Gazette (NSWGG), 9 Dec 1842, p. 1834.

[Tickets of leave], NSWGG, 13 Mar 1846, p. 347.

Tickets of leave, Moreton Bay Courier, 24 Oct 1846, p. 3.

Domestic intelligence, Moreton Bay Courier, 12 Jun 1847, p. 2.

[Advertisement], Moreton Bay Courier, 26 Apr 1851, p. 3.

[Tickets of leave cancelled], NSWGG, 19 Dec 1851, p. 2113.

Online Resources

NSWSA, Convicts Index, Ticket of leave for William Andy [sic] per Waterloo (1838).

Convict Records of Australia, entry for William Audy per Waterloo (1838).

Digital Panopticon, entry for William Audy in Prison Hulk Registers, Record ID AHR233799.