William Dawes

William Dawes



This website is dedicated to William Dawes, 1762 - 1836, Marine, surveyor / astronomer on the “First Fleet” to Australia, teacher, Governor of Sierra Leone, and missionary to Antigua.


The information contained herein has been accumulated from a number of origins, including family history, a variety of genealogy and historical reference sources and from a other dedicated researchers. While every attempt has been made to verify the information, the passage of time and the tyranny of distance make it difficult to completely confirm all details. However such verification is ongoing.


William Dawes was a man of many talents, but more importantly he was a man of great compassion, one of the first to recognise the injustice of slavery. His efforts in this respect were reputedly passed on to his daughter Judith Dawes.

In 1930, William’s great grand-daughter Annie Currer-Jones (nee Taylor) wrote a book on the life of William, but this book was not widely distributed.

Our family, which contains some of William’s few, known, living descendants, are initiating this website to make his life, works and genealogy more accessible and hopefully attract additional information to confirm, fill in the gaps and complete the picture.

Life Story

We will include a synopsis of William’s life and some of his descendants and will indicate where more complete details may be found. Meanwhile the following Timeline is offered.

Timeline of Significant Events during William Dawes’ Life


Our intention is to include everyone who died before 1980, and, with the permission of those still living, those who died since then and those still living.

Uncertain/Undocumented/To be verified

Information needing further authentication will be noted. Anyone wishing to contribute to this website or who can offer clarifications or further insights into William’s life and/or activities is invited to contact us at <contact@williamdawes.com>.

During the course of our research we have uncovered a number of anomalies or questions regarding previously published works. It may be that we have yet to discover the source of other researchers’ information, in which case we apologise for any misleading information we may present here and would be delighted to be further advised and, if we are wrong, correct our work.

The following are specifically noted here, one for clarification, the other in the hope that somebody will be able to fill in missing information :

William Rutter Dawes

It has been stated in several places that William and Judith Dawes had three children, namely Judith, William Rutter and Macaulay. Annie Currer-Jones, William’s great granddaughter, noted in her book, published in 1931, that Macaulay died as an infant. Our researches have failed to find any birth record for Macaulay, but have uncovered the following regarding William Rutter Dawes.

Records from St Marys, Portsea, Hampshire show a William Rutter Dawes born 17 December 1797, with baptism 11 February 1798. The Hampshire Burial Index shows a William Rutter Dawes burial as an infant on 26 May 1798. Other records including obituaries state that the astronomer William Rutter Dawes was born 19 March 1799 in London. This latter date is reinforced out by 1851 Census information which was taken on 30 March 1851, and which indicated he was aged 52, ie born born in 1799 or early 1800.

The name William Rutter Dawes is sufficiently unusual that it seems unlikely that there would have been two, each born to different parents having the same names. Therefore, we believe that Annie Currer-Jones information was incorrect in that William and Judith’s child who died as an infant was in fact an earlier namesake for William Rutter Dawes, not Macaulay Dawes. The only other explanation would be that William and Judith were unfortunate to have two children die as infants.

Children of Judith Dawes and John Jones

In her book Annie Currer-Jones stated “In 1842, the elder son of John and Judith Jones, William Dawes Jones, went out to Antigua in order to try to gather in debts due to his father by different owners of estates. But the terrible earthquake of 1843 prevented any payment being made, and he returned to England. In 1848 he went again to Antigua to reside on one of his father’s estates ........... The other children of John and Judith Jones settled in England, four out of their five children having been born at Clarence House (in Antigua). The youngest, a daughter, was born in England.”

The daughter born in England was Mary Ann Jones, born 11 October 1825 in Liverpool. She married James Taylor in Liverpool on 8 January 1851.

William Dawes Jones was actually born on 22 March 1822 and he certainly had an older brother (The Rev) Thomas Roberts Jones born in 1818.

However Oliver’s “History of Antigua” notes that the Parish register of St Paul record “1816 Nov 17 Grace Gilbert, daughter of John Jones and his wife Judith was baptised at English Harbour . Born Oct 30 Ult.”. Then further “Buried 1817 July 4 Grace Gilbert Jones.”

Hence, if they really did have only four children born in Antigua, and one Grace Gilbert Jones died there, then we are missing one other child born in Antigua, and only three returned with their parents to England where the last child was born some months before Judith died of yellow fever. (The Journal of the British Astronomical Association notes that William Rutter Dawes raised his niece from the age of 9 months until she was old enough to go to Boarding School, because “her mother - Dawes’ sister Judith - had died in 1826.”)

We can account for two of the three surviving children, Thomas Roberts and William Dawes Jones - but who was the other?

The situation becomes more confused when the 1851 Census for Skipton, Yorkshire is examined and one finds in Thomas Roberts Jones’ household a lady “Frances Eliz. Jones, sister, unmarried, aged 21, born 1830 in Liverpool, Lancs.” Did Judith’s husband John remarry and was Frances therefore Thomas Roberts’ half sister ? Can anybody enlighten us ?

Other William Dawes

There have been a number of quite famous people who carried the name William Dawes. We will identify them and reference sources of further information about them.


We have been greatly aided in our efforts so far by a number of people who will be acknowledged when the Website is completed, but in particular by Rowena Routh-Kärki, another descendant of William Dawes from a different branch to ours.


If you have any information to add, find any inaccuracies, would like us to link to your site, or have any other comments, please email us at <contact@williamdawes.com>.