William Williams

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Walter E. Pidgeon, Illustration from The Eureka Stockade by Raffaello Carboni, Sunnybrook Press, 1942, offset print.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased 1994.


Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Post 1854 Experiences

"A somewhat remarkable curse has been effected in the local hospital within the past few days. An old man (82 years of age) was sent by the Yea Council apparently to die here. His sufferings were on admission something terrible, and with his advanced years added to them there did not seem a particle of hope of his recovery. And, indeed, the patient himself thought his last hours had come, and sought for and obtained the services of a minister of his church. As a trifling series of complications we would here mention that he had three ribs broken on one side, four on the other, the lobe of right ear shot away, an arm broken in two places and never joined properly, and a skull fractured from a blow from the butt of a musket. These were reminiscences of the battle of the Eureka Stockade (in 1854), in which Mr. Williams, we are informed, took an active part. As his name denotes, his forefathers hail from Gallant Little Wales, but he was horn on the Welsh Back Bristol. The veteran has gone out cured and is, as might be expected, loud in his praises of Dr. Lethbridge. He is an old miner and intends resuming 'prospecting' at once and has, as a stimulus, an intense desire to find a good ' specimen' for the kind matron (1Mrs. Newman) and her worthy husband. More power to him, we say. When we saw him, shortly after he had taken his bed in the ward, he reminded us of some of the canvassers who had played a prominent part during an electioneering campaign in America. These individuals never trouble themselves as to the opposition they have to contend with, physically, so long as they return their man."[1]

An old inmate of the Alexandra hospital named William Williams, who was severely wounded in the Eureka Stockade riots, became demented on Wednesday morning, and on the following day managed to elude the vigilance of the wardsman and matron, and made his escape from the hospital. He was found lying in a drain near the residence of Mr. H. W. .Alston, and brought back by Mr. Mooney. The poor old fellow is perfectly harmless, and has been one of the most useful men that ever entered the institution.[2]

Death of a Pauper AT THE .HOSPITAL HE LEAVES £50 BEHIND. CONCEALED IN HIS WAIST COAT. BANK BOOK ANNEXED. THE CURATOR WILL DECIDE. There died in the local hospital on Saturday last, one of the participants in the Eureka Stockade riot. William Williams, who had seen some 87 summers, spent the last five and a half years of his life in our benevolent institution. In his youth he came to the colony, and migrated to the gold fields. When the trouble arose over the licenses at Ballarat he joined the mal-contents, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Peter Lalor - When the stockade was rushed, Williams fought fiercely, receiving an upper cut which slit his ear, almost severing it; a blow on the head which left an unsightly scar, and a wound in the arm, by which the bone was shattered. While the arm was still in splints, Williams encountered an old enemy, who thought it a fine opportunity, now that the former was disabled, to pay off old scores. But he reckoned with out his host, for Williams "sailed in" and soon placed him hors-de-combat. In the bout the injured arm was knocked about, but Williams refused to see a doctor and have it re-set, contenting himself with binding it up in a handkerchief. The result of his obstinacy was remarkable, for at time injured spot a new joint formed, which lie was able to use just as aptly as his elbow. The strange development in no way interfered with his work, for I he was able, up to the time of his having to enter the hospital suffering from an internal complaint, to earn his livelihood as a laborer. He was buried on Monday morning, the Rev. W. H. Beer officiating at the grave. Quite a flutter of excitement was occasioned in the institution, on Wednesday, by the accidental discovery of a bank book showing that Williams had £50 standing to his credit in the Savings Bank. It was nothing short of wonderful that the discovery was made, in as much as it was while in the act of burning the deceased man's clothing that a waistcoat was turned over and presented a rather bulky appearance. After closer examination, and to the astonishment of all present, the bank book was found securely sewn between the cloth and lining. It is a wonder the garment was not consigned to the flames with the other effects, and it, is to be hoped that the institution will now benefit by the timely discovery. In 1893, some two years before Williams was admitted to the hospital here he had over £54 to his credit, and having drawn a few pounds, left exactly the £50 intact since 1893. In 1895, .Williams-was admitted to our hospital and since that, time had proved himself a most worthy 'inmate, being at all times willing to do anything asked in aiding the general work. He was a most obliging man and scrupulously clean in his habits. Indeed, he was much liked by all, and in consequence, was treated most liberally by Dr. Johnson and the officials. He was never without his tobacco or stimulant and repeatedly remarked to the wards man (Mr. Smith) that he would someday be rewarded for his kindness towards him (Williams.) Of course, Williams was looked upon as a man totally without means, and this discovery has greatly astonished all connected with the hospital. The President has been handed the bank book and it now remains to be seen what will be done with the cash. Of course the Curator of Intestate Estates will have first say and should there be no relatives forthcoming, it is only fair that the hospital should reap the benefit it richly deserves for the care bestowed upon this selfish man. It was thought some time. back that Williams would be leaving the institute, and in the event of that, Dr. Johnson had decided to pay out of his own pocket, the necessary amount per week for his retention. Williams, it is said, was in the thickest of the fight at the Eureka riot, and fought like a tiger, but was fortunate to escape and plant in an abandoned shaft, until he was suddenly, surprised one day by the sudden appearance-of a tin hat over the hole. He suffered a short term of imprisonment for the part he took in the affray. It appears that the wonderful formation of an extra joint in his arm was due to the fact that a sharp edge left of the upper most fracture had helped to form the joint. Dr. Johnson says that it was a perfect, or universal joint, and the only case known of in the States, New Zealand boasts of a similar freak.[3]

See also

Eureka Stockade

Further Reading


  1. Alexandra Standard Newspaper 13th September 1895.
  2. Alexandra Standard Friday 12 January 1900.
  3. Alexandra Standard Newspaper 3 May 1901.

External links