Dr William Redfern
Redfern appears to have been born in Canada and raised in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. He passed the examination of the London Company of Surgeons in 1797 and was commissioned as a surgeon's mate in the Royal Navy.
Redfern was sentenced to death for his part in the naval Mutiny of the Nore in 1797. This was commuted to transportation for life due to his age at the time of his crime. After spending four years in an English jail he was transported to New South Wales in 1802.
Career in New South Wales
Redfern was granted a conditional pardon following his arrival in Sydney. In 1803, he received a full pardon from the colony's governor, King. As early as 1804 Redfern had been advocating the new smallpox vaccination. After being examined about his level of medical knowledge by the Surgeon-General of New South Wales, Thomas Jamison, it was certified that Redfern was "qualified to exercise the profession of a surgeon, etc." He was appointed as assistant surgeon in 1808 by Joseph Foveaux. Foveaux planned to confirm Redfern's appointment and stated that his "skill and ability in his profession are unquestionable, and his conduct has been such as to deserve particular approbation". Soon after Lachlan Macquarie's arrival as governor in 1810, he stated that he found that no transported men had yet been received into society at Sydney. He felt, however, "that emancipation, when united with rectitude and long-tried good conduct, should lead a man back to that rank in society which he had forfeited". He was aware that the attempt to do this would need caution and delicacy, and stated that up to then he had "admitted only four men of that class to his table", of whom Redfern was one. When D'Arcy Wentworth became principal surgeon in 1811 Redfern succeeded him as assistant surgeon. Redfern was doctor to governor Macquarie. In 1814 Redfern reported to Macquarie on the sanitary problems of the ships transporting convicts to New South Wales. As a result of this report the conditions were greatly improved.In 1817 he became one of the founders of the Bank of New South Wales.
Redfern had expected to succeed Wentworth as principal surgeon; Macquarie indeed recommended him for the position in 1818 — however it was given to James Bowman in 1819. Redfern immediately resigned from the Colonial Medical Service and later in the same year Macquarie made him a magistrate, but this was objected to by Commissioner Bigge and the appointment was not sanctioned. Redfern had a large private practice as a physician, and though somewhat brusque in manner was much liked and trusted; he became the "best" and "best-known" surgeon in Sydney. He visited England in 1821 as a delegate for the emancipists endeavouring to obtain relief from their disabilities, and in January 1824 he was at the island of Madeira for the benefit of his health. His wife, who was then in London, made application on his behalf for an additional grant of land, which was allowed. He was evidently then in good circumstances. In 1826 he retired from practising as a physician, and for about two years engaged in scientific farming which had been a hobby of his for some time. He went to Edinburgh about the end of 1828 and died there towards the close of July 1833. He married in 1811 Sara Wills, who survived him, together with their son.
- Edward Ford (1967). "Redfern, William (1774 - 1833)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2. MUP. pp. 368–371. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Phillips, Marion (1909). "Chapter 9:The stirring of political aspirations". In W. Pember Reeves. A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821. Studies in economics and political science. London: P. S. King & Son. pp. p. 285.
- Percival Serle, ed. (1949). "Redfern, William". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 2007-07-30.