William Adams1

M, #5814, d. February 1798
Relationship5th great-grandfather of Keith Graham Bassett
ChartsAncestors of Keith Graham Bassett
Last Edited31 May 2022
Note* William Adams and George Riness, both soldiers, were tried at the July 1787 Old Bailey Sessions for the highway robbery of Charles Salmon, who had robbed in Five Fields Row, Chelsea of four shillings sixpence and nine half pence. The victim said they hadstruck him with a bludgeon and described Adams as being dressed in dirty regimentals, wearing a slouched hat. Salmon recognised Riness on guard duty two days later and positively identified Adams when lodgings the two men shared at No. 4 Duck Court, Westminster were searched. Their landlady described their dinner together on the night of the crime saying: I enjoyed myself more than I generally do....they were very civil men. She would not give them an alibi, but was embarrassed by Riness's claim to have spent the night with her and made a confusing assertion that he had been with another woman. As a result he was acquitted but Adams was found guilty and sentenced to death. A respite was granted but he was not officially reprieved to transportation for life until September 1789. He remained in Newgate Gaol until 10 November when he was sent directly to the Scarborough transport.
Adams had been able to sign his name at his committal hearing. At Sydney on 22 October 1791 he married Mary Chadderton, aged 31, who had been intended for the Second Fleet but actually arrived on the Third Fleet's Mary Ann. She had been born in Coventry, Warwickshire, but was convicted for a burgulary in Lancashire in 1787. In October 1793 Adams received a conditional pardon on joining the New South Wales Corps. He was granted 25 acres at Petersham in 1795, which was probably sold soon afterwards.
Three children were born to the couple Sarah (1792-1801), Elizabeth (1795) and Kezia (1798). William Adams'burial was registered at Sydney on 4 February 1798. His widow married another soldier, William Baker, and was living with him and her two survivng daughters on Norfolk Island c1805-1810. She was still with him at Parramatta in 1822 and married the first fleeter Benjamin Cusley after Baker's death in 1824.2 
Conviction*11 July 1787 The Old Bailey, London, Middlesex;
590. GEORGE RINESS and WILLIAM ADAMS were indicted for feloniously assaulting Charles Salmon, on the King's highway, on the 24th day of June last, and putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person, and against his will, four shillings and sixpence, and nine halfpence, value 4 1/2 d. his property.
I live at the Five-fields, Chelsea, I am a cabinet-maker; at half after nine on the 24th of June last, the prisoners George Riness and William Adams attacked me on the high-road in Five-fields Row; they were about the space of twenty yards from me when I first saw them; they were both together, they came up to me, it was quite light, at the distance of about five or six yards, I think it might be, Riness took out a bludgeon; and when they came up, Riness struck me on the neck; they said nothing to me before they struck me, they did not knock me down; Riness held me, and Adams rifled my pockets of four shillings and six-pence, and four-pence halfpenny in halfpence; I believe there might be more; after they had rifled my pockets, Riness said to Adams, holding up his bludgeon, b - r his eyes, shall I go it; Adams spoke very low; he said no, let him go, or let him pass, I do not know which was the word; then they let me go; they went away, I went to the sign of the King's Arms, which I believe might be two or three hundred yards from the place where I was robbed, and I informed the man at the King's Arms that I had been robbed; while I continued there about half an hour, a man came in, and said he and his wife had been robbed, and the men were gone to the next public-house; then I went home, that was about ten.
How long might they be committing this robbery on you? - I look upon it very near three minutes.
How were they dressed? - Adams was dressed in dirty clothes, with a slouched hat on, in regimentals; Riness seemed to be much cleaner in his clothes, his were regimentals.
Had you known either of the men before? - I never saw them before to my knowledge, I saw them again on the Tuesday, I think it was; I was robbed on the Sunday evening, I saw Riness on guard, and I was there when he was taken; I was taken to see them, to see if I should know the men that robbed me; I saw Riness on the parade, and I told Shepperd, the man that took me, that I thought he was the man; I was not quite sure at that time, that he was the man; Adams was taken the same day, but not on guard; I saw him the same day, I knew him immediately when I saw him; I cannot rightly tell the place where he was taken, I believe they call it Duck-lane, Westminster; I was sure as to Adams.
Where did you see him? - He was in his own apartment in Duck-lane in bed, when I saw him, I believe it might be about eight or nine in the morning; I saw Riness some little time before that; Riness was dressed very clean at the time I saw him, I went to his lodgings along with Shepherd, and he undressed there, and he put on some other regimentals; and then I was more sure.
How far was it from any house that you was robbed? - About twenty yards from the Half-way House, there were people in it, I did not cry out or make any noise, I saw nobody in the fields, but I met three gentlemen coming down the field, and I told them that I had been robbed; it might be two minutes after I was robbed.
I belong to Sir Sampson Wright; by the information I received, I was shewn Riness going home to get his clothes off, and there was Adams in bed; I went to the parade, the prosecutor was with me he pointed out the man to me, I went with Salmon to the lodgings, the serjeant desired us to go, that Riness might change his clothes; there we found Adams, I saw him laying in bed, it was the upper end of Duck-lane; this was on Tuesday the 26th of June, in the morning, between nine and ten, no property was found on them.
The prisoners both lodged in the upper part of the house that I now rent; on the 24th of June I had a bit of comfortable dinner, and I enjoyed myself more than I generally do; I asked those two men to dine with me; they set at the table that I sat at; they dined with me, it was about two o'clock; at eight they left my apartment, and at eleven I saw them return; they wished me a good night, and went up to their apartments; they were very civil men.
Between eleven and twelve on the Sunday, her husband came up stairs, and asked us to have a bit of dinner with them, we had some mutton and beans for dinner; we continued there till between four and five; then a young man,Bill the sawyer, came and sent for some beer, and we staid there till past ten; but about seven this woman went out of her own room up two pair of stairs, into another woman's room, and this man along with her, and she never came into her own apartment till the next morning at seven o'clock; and she told her husband that she had been with Longley the chimney-sweeper all night.

I was with the woman from between seven and eight, till almost ten, in the woman's apartment.
Mrs. Franklin. He went into the adjacent house, and was there some time with another woman, but not with me; he knows nothing of me; as near as I can guess, about eight in the evening he quitted my house.
Was he with you till ten at night? - No.
Not any where? - No.
Was he till half past nine? - No, I do not know where he went when he went out.
You are sure he did not go with you to any other room, and stay with you till ten? - No, he did not.
Court to Salmon. I think you told me, that when you was on the parade, you thought Riness was one of the men? - Yes.
Had any body pointed him out to you? - I did it upon my own account.
Did the drummer, or any other person, point out Riness as a person likely? - I believe the drummer pointed him out to Shepherd, for the drummer had been robbed by the same party.
Did the drummer point him out to Shepherd, before you had seen Riness? - No person had pointed him out to me.
But to any body else when you was present? - Not to my knowledge; I did not see Riness till after he was taken up by Shepherd; I was on the parade at the same time he was taken up, and that was the first time I saw him; Shepherd took hold of him when I first observed him, and I thought he was the man; he had been pointed out to Shepherd by a drummer for something else.
Prisoners. We have no witnesses.
Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILSON.3 
Conviction9 September 1789 Old Bailey, London, Middlesex;
The following capital convicts accepted his Majesty's pardon, on condition of being transported for life.
Thomas Vallame, Daniel Collins, William Shurberd, Thomas Ransom, William Bead, John Gervalt, William Allen, John Wright, Joseph Reay, Solomon Pocock, Thomas Smith, Richard Allen, James Usher, Thomas Glaves, John Crompton, George Ellison, William Barton, Richard Joy, William Adams, Daniel Henley, James Everard, Peter Bolton, James Lara, Thomas Collins, Thomas Grainger, Thomas Collins, George Dunstan, Michael Hoy, John Wood, John Cobcroft, William Stubbs, alias Fielder, alias Jack the Gardener, James Wilkinson, John Young, John Place, Francis Harris, William Stevenson, John Thomas, John Crawford, Thomas Jones, Robert Guy, Robert Fenwell, Joseph Taylor, James Hornsby, Thomas Johnson, William Richardson alias Jones, Thomas Edwards, Joshua Softly, John Pace, Robert Jones, Solomon Bockarah, Thomas Thrush alias Thrust, Thomas Carter, John Aiken, Richard Cole, Joseph Ward, Thomas Serjeant, Samuel alias George Stevenson, Edward Riley, William Glover, Charles Woodyer, James Joiner, John Robby, George Porter, William Thorne, John Jennings, John Wood, Richard Arnold, Daniel Keneling, Michael Jones, John Millett, Abraham Jacobs.3 
Transported*28 June 1790 "Scarborough", Port Jackson, NSW, Australia;
Name: Adams, William
Where Convicted: Middx
When: 9 Sepr 1789
Term: Life
Vessel: Scarborough4 
Marriage*22 October 1791 St Phillips, Sydney, NSW, Australia;
The Solemnization of Matrimony By Banns between William Adams & Mary Chatterton & Married this 22nd day of October in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & ninety one By me
Richard Johnson Chaplain
This marriage was solemnized between us
William Adams
Mary Chatterton (her mark)
In the presence of
William Tarager (his mark)
Elizabeth Cross (her mark);Bride=Mary Moreton1 
Enlistment*17 February 1793 102nd Regiment of Foot (NSW Corps), Sydney, NSW, Australia5 
Pardon-cond*14 October 1793 NSW, Australia6 
Grant*14 March 1795 Sydney, NSW, Australia;
No.: 409
Date: 1795 March 14
Grantee or Lessee: William Adams
Situation: District of Petersham Hills
Extent: 25 Acres
Term of Years: Grant
Annual Quit Rent: 1s, after 5 years
By whom granted: William Paterson Esq Senior Officer; during the absence of the Governor7 
Death*February 1798 Sydney, NSW, Australia8 
Burial*4 February 1798 St Philips, Sydney, NSW, Australia;
William Adams, Soldier8 


Mary Moreton b. 11 Dec 1756, d. Nov 1834


  1. [S1570] NSW Early Church Records 1788-1855, V1791129 4/1791 William Adams & Mary Chatterton.
  2. [S1569] Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet, William Adams.
  3. [S1221] Proceedings of the Old Bailey.
  4. [S1574] Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to Convicts and Convict Administration.
  5. [S1641] The New South Wales Corps, online http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~garter1/…
  6. [S1573] Copies of Conditional Pardons Registered, online www.ancestry.com, William Adams 1793.
  7. [S1233] Colonial Secretary Correspondence, 1788-1825.
  8. [S1570] NSW Early Church Records 1788-1855, V1798861 4/1798 William Adams.
  9. [S1570] NSW Early Church Records 1788-1855, V1792186 4/1792 Sarah Adams.
  10. [S1570] NSW Early Church Records 1788-1855, V1795361 4/1795 Elizabeth Adams.
  11. [S1570] NSW Early Church Records 1788-1855, V1798532 4/1798 Kazia A B Adams.