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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Faithful, William (1774–1847)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

William Faithful (1774-1847), soldier and settler, arrived in New South Wales as a private in Captain Joseph Foveaux's company in the New South Wales Corps in the Pitt in February 1792. In 1795 he was sued by John Boston after being ordered by Quartermaster Thomas Laycock to shoot one of Boston's pigs which was trespassing on Foveaux's land. Both Laycock and Faithful were found liable for damages. On his discharge from the army in 1799 Faithful was employed by Foveaux in the management of his farms, and when Foveaux left the colony in 1801 he settled part of his flock on his former manager.

Faithful became a farmer on his own account when he received a grant of 25 acres (10 ha) at Petersham Hill in May 1799, and a further 1000 acres (405 ha) at Liberty Plains from Foveaux in November 1808. This second grant was made in consequence of a recommendation by Lord Nelson in favour of his wife Susannah, a daughter of Mrs Mary Pitt, née Matcham, and a relation of Nelson. Macquarie regranted the land at Liberty Plains in 1811, but Faithful later exchanged it for better land at Jordan Hill. He became a prominent settler in the Richmond district, gradually extending his holdings so that in 1828 he owned 2190 acres (886 ha). In November 1834 he received a grant of 100 acres (40 ha) near Goulburn.

William Faithful had married Susannah Pitt on 21 November 1804. Of their four children, a daughter Alice married Dr Andrew Gibson, surgeon of the 39th Regiment and a pioneer of the Goulburn district; one son, William Pitt, established Springfield station on the Goulburn plains about 1827, later became a member of the Legislative Council, and resigned when Sir Charles Cowper 'stacked' it in May 1861; the other son, George, established Wangaratta station on the Ovens River in Victoria in 1838 after being turned back from Broken River by a party of Aboriginals who slaughtered many of the party. On 7 September 1820 Susannah died and, after a marriage with his deceased wife's sister was annulled, Faithful married Margaret Thompson of Bringelly on 21 November 1821. They had two children, of whom Helen Eliza married Thomas Matcham Pitt Wilshire. Margaret died on 28 July 1842, and Faithful married Maria, daughter of Archibald Bell, on 13 June 1843. He died on 16 April 1847 age 73, and Maria on 29 May 1859. He is buried in St Peter's cemetery, Richmond, with his three wives. In 1864 four of his grandsons held off the bushrangers Ben Hall, John Gilbert and Dunn at Springfield, for which they received a gold medal from the government of New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 2, 6, 7
  • C. H. Bertie, ‘Pioneer Families of Australia: The Faithfulls’, Home (Sydney), vol 12, no 11, Nov 1931, pp 40, 67, 69
  • newspaper cuttings, vol 116 (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Faithful, William (1774–1847)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 30 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

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