1834 portrait of William Blue, by T. B. East
Jamaica, New York
|Died||7 May 1834
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Williams (1805–1824, her death)|
Billy Blue or William Blue (c. 1767 - 7 May 1834) was an Australian convict. Although Billy Blue’s place and date of birth are uncertain, convict records suggest he was born in Jamaica, New York, around 1740 or 1767. Other people reading his records believe him to have been from Jamaica, West Indies.
Blue had long claimed to have served in the British Army in America and Europe before arriving in Australia. Blue claimed he had served during the American Revolutionary War. On 4 October 1796, Blue was convicted, at Maidstone, in Kent, of stealing raw sugar and sentenced to seven years transportation. After serving over four years in the convict hulks (Prison ship), he was transported to Botany Bay, Australia, in the convict ship Minorca.
Transportation to Australia
Blue arrived in Sydney in 1801 and served out the remaining two years of his sentence. In 1804, records show him living in ‘the Rocks’, then a very tough part of the city. There he met Elizabeth Williams, a 30-year-old convict from Hampshire, England, who had arrived in June 1804. On 27 April 1805, they were married at the old St. Philip's Anglican church in Sydney, where 5 of their 6 children were later christened.
Blue later became a boatman, ferrying passengers across Sydney Harbour. He was also made a water bailiff and watched boat traffic on Port Jackson from a special tower. Despite being a bailiff, it seems Billy didn't do everything by the book. It was said that his law infringements were frequent, but due to his colourful personality, they were looked upon with a "benevolent air" by the authorities.
Billy Blue's name has been preserved in place names such as Blues Point on Sydney Harbour, Blue Street and Blues Point Road in North Sydney, as well as commercial names like the Billy Blue College of Design and Blues Point Tower.