52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1 – Firsts

There are many firsts that I could pull out of my research to discuss in this topic, our ‘first convict’ the ‘first person I researched’, instead we will go with a different and notable first:

 “The first white boy born in this colony was born of black parents.” – Sir. J. H. Fisher 

I have blogged about this little nugget before, and it is of course much disputed as these things are, but I thought it might be interesting to discuss who exactly this white boy of black parents was.

William Josiah Black was born on the 2nd of February 1837 ‘not far from the old gum tree’ to William Edwin Black and his wife Mary Ann (nee Bird). The couple had married a few years earlier in 1833 in a recently completed St Dunstan-in-the-West. In September 1836 the couple embarked on the Coromandel bound for Adelaide, South Australia with their 22 month old daughter and William’s brothers James and Thomas and their families. The ship arrived in Holdfast Bay on the 17th of January 1837 and William Josiah was born less than a month later.

I have seen argued that this makes him the first white male born after Proclamation and not the first first white male born in South Australia, but whatever the case William Josiah was not destined to have a long and fruitful life. On the 21st of November 1846 young William Josiah was killed at Currency Creek while employed by William Metcalf.

“COURT OF INSOLVENCY.” South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900) 28 November 1846: 3. Web. 6 Jan 2019 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27454354>

9 years seems to us to be a very young age to be employed outside the home but it was common in the 19th Century for vocational training to start from around 10 to 11 years (and sometimes as early as 7) and for apprenticeships to be entered into not much later. 

William Josiah’s mother had died in August 1844 (a younger sibling John Frederick died in the April of the year at less than a year old) and William Edwin had remarried in the November. Caroline Elizabeth (nee Warren) would give William Edwin a further three children. Edwin in 1845, Louisa in 1847 and Edward Warren in 1848.

William Edwin Black was proud of his son’s claim to be the first white boy of the colony and it is this distinction that is noted within Notable South Australians, or, Colonists – past and present  and The founders of Australia and their descendants and within obituary’s and again whenever the subject arose and always a matter of debate.

“THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL ELECTION.” The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922) 29 February 1884: 2 (HALF-PAST ONE O’CLOCK EDITION.). Web. 6 Jan 2019

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