William Jones, printer

William Jones was a printer and newspaper publisher in early Sydney and later in Goulburn. His career is documented in a variety of sources. The following is a selection of details and references, to be expanded on.

William Jones, printer, with his wife Mrs. Mary Jones and daughter Lucilla, arrived in Sydney from England on Friday 26 July 1833, according to the shipping arrivals news in the Sydney Herald. They came out on the Warrior, which left London on 13 March and Hobart Town on 21 July.

The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages records the death of an infant Lucilla Jones in 1833; no father’s or mother’s name is given and no district is indicated.

As William Jones remarried in January 1839 (see below), it is believed that his wife Mary Jones died between 1833 and 1838. BDM records for this period show three instances of a Mary Jones: 1836, Mary A., aged 40; 1837, Mary, aged 63 (presumably too old); and 1838, Mary, aged 36. Burial records for the period are incomplete.

In a list of Government contracts for 1834, William Jones is listed for printing the Government Gazette at 20 shillings per sheet, ‘the printer finding paper and delivering the Gazette’. In an advertisement in the Sydney Herald of 30 June 1834 Jones gives his address as ‘“Government Gazette Office,” Bridge street, Sydney’; he was advertising for a compositor and a pressman.

In September 1837 Jones announced that he had moved his business to premises formerly occupied by the bookseller George Evans.

William Jones, printer, of Bridge Street, married Jane Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Jilks, ‘late Chief Constable of Sydney’, at St. Philip’s Church, Sydney, on Tuesday 22 January 1839.

In October 1840 Jones was found guilty of a libel in his newspaper the Commercial Journal against John Ryan Brenan, magistrate and coroner, who sought damages of £1,000 and was awarded £100.

1842: While still married to Jane Jilks, Jones had a son out of wedlock by Sarah Skerton or Skelton (William Henry Jr.). They married twenty-seven years later.*

William Jones is listed in the Prints and Printmaking Australia Asia Pacific database, which has a small number of references for his activities between 1834 and 1847.

1869: Jones married Sarah Skerton (9/8/1869, Petersham).* [The entry in the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 785/1869, gives the bride’s surname as Skerton; district Sydney.]

1874: Jones died. He was buried in Balmain Cemetery.* [An entry in the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 2166/1874, gives William Jones’ age as 83 years. This would place his birth in 1790 or 1791.]

‘Shipping intelligence’, Sydney Herald 29/7/1833, p. 2. Warrior passenger list. Burial records: the City of Sydney website has information on the Old Sydney Burial Ground and archaeological work on the site (the latter page has links to an inventory of burials (1792-1820) and an explanation of the inventory and bibliography). Government contracts: Sydney Herald, Supplement, 3/2/1834, p. 2. Government Gazette Office: Sydney Herald 30/6/1834, p. 3. Move to Evans’ premises: Sydney Herald 7/9/1837, p. 1. Marriage: Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser 28/1/1839, p. 2. Libel: Australian 31/10/1840, p. 2. Newspaper in Goulburn: cf. Rod Kirkpatrick, ‘Survival and Persistence: A Case Study of Four Provincial Press Sites’. Prints and Printmaking Australia Asia Pacific: William Jones (printer).

St. Philip’s [not Phillip’s]: the old church (1798/1800/1809-1856) was on the site of Lang Park (across the road from the current church), westward of Bridge Street; a historical summary via the present church website includes a view of the old church, which had a round tower. The State Library of New South Wales has a drawing from 1848. Drawings in the National Library of Australia show the old St. Philip’s church and buildings opposite, and the old St. Philip’s church and St. Patrick’s church on Church Hill. From a somewhat later date there is in the State Library a photo of Bridge Street looking west with the current church in the background.

George W. Evans: for an outline of his career cf. ‘The pursuit of knowledge under difficulties’.

21/6/2012: some details added.  * 8/5/2013: some details added, based on comment to this post (see below).

2 Responses to William Jones, printer

  1. Christine Macdonald

    William Jones married a third time to a Sarah Skerton or Skelton in 1869 9th August at Petersham NSW. Prior to this the couple had an illigitimate son William Henry jr in 1842. Presumably as he was married to 2nd wife Jane Jilks at the time and I guess divorce was a nono the couple had to wait for Jane to die in 1869 at her father’s residence, suggests that William and Jane were estranged. William died in 1874 and was buried at the Balmain Cemetery.

    • unhurriedtraveller

      Thank you for your comment and for expanding the range of information. I have inserted details at the appropriate points in the list, and added some observations in brackets.

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