Fremantle Stuff > People > William Higgins Townsend

William Townsend

William Townsend (1831-1894) was a sapper who arrived in Fremantle (the first time) on the Marion in June 1852. He was an 'instructing warder' (supervisor) until he was discharged from the Royal Engineers in 1861, when he became an assistant warder. According to an 1894 obit, he 'supervised the construction of public buildings in Perth, Fremantle, Bunbury and North, and bridges over the Avon, Warren, Connelly and Swan rivers. ... The [1879, second] lighthouse at Fremantle was one of the most important works erected by prison labor under his supervision.' He was a convert to Catholicism. He died at Northam but his body was apparently brought to Fremantle for burial in the Skinner St cemetery. His gravestone (but not his remains) was removed and placed at #129 on the Heritage Trail in (the new) Fremantle Cemetery. There is some confusion about the date of his death, as that gravestone records that he died 8 November 1897, while several other sources record that he died 6 November 1894. At the moment, researchers are assuming that there was only one William H. Townsend, but we have to leave open the possibility that there were two. An image of a gravestone with the 1894 date exists (tho the source is currently unknown). So it raises the question: can my photo of the stone with the 1897 date be related to the same person?


This is the stone on the Heritage Trail, recording that he died 8 Nov 1897 aged 63.

townsend2 Source of this image currently unknown.

townsend WA Record, Thursday 15 November 1894: 7.

References and Links

WA Record, 15 November 1894: 7.

Diane Oldman's page for Townsend @ her Sappers and Miners website

Garry Gillard | New: 15 November, 2016 | Now: 16 November, 2019