Billy Blue

William "Billy" 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.

Billy Blue
1834 portrait of William Blue, by J. B. East
Born
William Blue

c. 1740/67
Died(1834-05-07)7 May 1834[1]
Sydney, Australia
OccupationSailor, boatman
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Williams (1805–1824, her death)
ChildrenSix

Early life

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 a factory, he was transported to Botany Bay, Australia, in the convict ship Minorca.

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.[2]

Career

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.

Legacy

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. His nickname 'The Old Commodore' is used in the name of the Commodore Hotel in Blues Point Road.[3] A musical honouring his life, True Blue - A New Australian Musical, is currently being written by Australian Composer, Jye Bryant with Script by playwright, Maxine Appel-Cohen.

See also

References

  1. Park, Margret. "Blue, William (Billy) (1767–1834)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  2. BILLY BLUE BORN 1760S DIED 1834
  3. Gunter, John (1978). Across the harbour : the story of Sydney's ferries. Rigby. p. 11. ISBN 0727007157.
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