Bourne Russell captained the "Lady Rowena" to Australia in 1829. On board was an apprentice sailor named William Watson. How do I verify this William was the same William born to Bourne Russell and Elizabeth Watson on 30 June 1815?

2 Answers 2


In order to build the case that these are one and the same person, you need to build a chain of links. Something like the following might suffice.

  1. Show that young William remained in Australia after the voyage.
  2. Demonstrate that he did something that brought him to public notice (perhaps he ran for parliament).
  3. Obtain a document that shows that William Watson MLA was known by some people as William Bourne-Watson and that his descendants used this name (in for example, wedding announcements).

Of course, this is not proof but sources such as the Trove Newspaper database should allow you to gather evidence that is strongly suggestive of the claim.


They are the same person. I have a copy of William's baptism entry on 2 July 1815 in which his mother Elizabeth Watson names Bourn Russell as the father of her child. Also the Sussex Bastardry Papers in which they sought payment from BR for the upbringing of the child. Also William's Apprentice Indenture papers of 1828 and the 1829 crew list of the Lady Rowena, of which BR was the Master and WW was an apprentice along with BR's legitimate son, also called Bourn Russell. Also both men entered the NSW Parliament after being successful business men. Photographs of both have a strong facial resemblance. Also William became known as William Bourn Russell Watson after he predeceased his father in 1877.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.