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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
William Bowyer

Born: 1800; Died: 1872; Married: Margaret Magarahan

William Bowyer was transported to the colony on the convict ship Claudine in 1829. He was born in 1800 at Salisbury, Wiltshire, and in 1828 was sentenced to life for stealing a watch. The Convict Indentures for the 'Claudine' state that 'he was 28; Native place Salisbury, trade or calling Dairyman who ploughs and reaps. Was widowed and had one child. Height 5 ft 3 inches; complexion Ruddy and freckled; Hair Brown; eyes dark hazel'. He was granted his ticket of leave at Goulburn in 1838 and a conditional pardon in 1846

He married Margaret Magarahan at Jerrabomberra in 1844, having sought and obtained permission to marry a few weeks earlier. Margaret had arrived as a convict on the Minerva in 1839, with a seven year sentence. She too had to obtain permission to marry. Over the next sixteen years they had six children, all the births being registered at Queanbeyan. One of them, Alfred, died in infancy.

The Yass Courier reported an extraordinary story concerning the firstborn, Afred:

'The following strange occurrence and instance of presence of mind as supplied to us by a respectable correspondent whose statement may be depended on as of the utmost reliance: ' A very singular occurrence happened the other day to a lad named Frederick Bowyer, a shepherd in the employ of William Davis Esq of Ginninderra while out on the run a swarm of bees came and hovering over him for some time first settled down upon him. The bees were so numerous that they completely covered his head, neck and the greater part of his body. With great coolness he stood as motionless as a statue with one arm slightly raised until they all gathered on his coat sleeve. He then cautiously disengaged himself from his coat propped it up with a stick and hurried home for a box into which he succeeded in getting them all to enter and without getting a single sting carried them triumphantly home.'[ Yass Courier 26.11.1859]

By 1844, when Frederick was born, William was a police constable at Bungendore; in sixteen years going from convicted felon to officer of the law! In 1851 he moved to Ginninderra where he was employed by the Palmers, and is described as 'a shepherd of Stone Hut near Ginninderra'. There are a couple of reports of him playing cricket matches - once for Queanbeyan and once for Ginninderra.

Bowyer died in May 1872 at Westwood in Queensland.

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