William (1st) SHELLEY & Elizabeth BEAN

William (1st) SHELLEY & Elizabeth BEAN


William (1st) SHELLEY was born on Sunday the 29th May, 1774, in Hanley Green, Staffordshire, England.

His christening took place on the 16th June, 1775, Leek Parish Church Staffordshire, England.

He was the son of John Shelley and Elizabeth Unknown.


William (1st) SHELLEY died on the 8th July, 1815, in Parramatta, NSW.


His burial took place in the St. John's Church of England, Parramatta, NSW.


William (1st) SHELLEY married Miss Elizabeth BEAN, who was born on the 31st December, 1782, in London, England.

They married on the 7th October, 1801, in St. John's Church of England, Parramatta, NSW.

One of the witnesses was Esther Harley, the daughter of Thomas Bradley whose family accompanied the Beans to Sydney on the "Buffalo".


William (1st) arrived at Port Jackson on the 13th February, 1800, aboard the ship DUFF/BETSEY. Port Jackson.


Article Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for:

- SHELLEY (SHELLY) WILLIAM (1774-1815), missionary and trader, was born on 29 May 1774 at Hanley, Staffordshire, England, where his family had long been associated with the local potteries

He was apprenticed to a cabinet maker at Leek, joined the Congregational Church in 1794 and volunteered as an artisan missionary to the (London) Missionary Society

He was one of the party which sailed in the Duff in 1796 with Rev J F Cover and was a member of the original mission to Tonga.

When the Tongans killed three missionaries in 1799 he escaped and next year went to Sydney in the Betsy, in company with the Anna Josepha, navigated by Rev John Harris

Shelley took up his residence with Rowland Hassall at Parramatta, commenced his own trade, and helped in the religious work of the settlement

In March 1801 he left for England in the "Royal Admiral" in the hope of reopening the Tongan mission, but after arriving at Tahiti decided to join the mission there

He returned to Sydney to marry Elizabeth Bean, daughter of a free settler, which he did on 7 October and returned to Tahiti next month

While in the colony he impressed Samuel Marsden with the dangers to the mission of establishing a government colony at Tahiti and proposed that the pork trade should be conducted by the Missionary Society

Shelley was deeply impressed with the need of a ship to support the mission by trade and, being dissatisfied with the organization of the mission, determined to work independently

He returned to Sydney in the Lucy in April 1806, taking with him about forty gallons of rum made secretly at the mission still to use for barter

Soon he entered into a commercial arrangement with John Macarthur and Garnham Blaxcell and engaged as supercargo in the "Elizabeth", which had been bought to open trade in sandalwood with Fiji.

However, Shelley sailed to Tahiti in the "Harrington" in January 1807 There he built the Halcyon, which he sent to Sydney with a cargo of pork, and in May he joined the Elizabeth, returning to Sydney in June and again in November, estimating that his own share was upwards of 1,000-pounds

Convinced that a trading ship was essential if the mission was to prosper, and with plans to reopen the Tongan mission, he sailed for London in the "Albion" in November 1808, but he could not convince the directors that he was right, even though he had the help of Marsden, who was then in England

Early in 1810 Shelley returned to New South Wales and next year opened a general store in York Street, Sydney

In August 1812 he was granted 400 acres at Cabramatta and a town lease at Cockle Bay, but early in 1813 he closed his business and sailed from Sydney in May as master of the "Queen Charlotte".

In the Tuamotus the ship was seized by Raiatean pearl divers, three men were murdered and Shelley narrowly escaped with his life He recovered the ship at Tahiti and returned to Sydney in February 1814 with a large cargo of shells and 'as large a quantity of pearls as has ever yet been procured by a single vessel'

It was probably during this voyage that Shelley left a European artisan at Tongatapu preparatory to reopening the mission there

Resettling at Parramatta, Shelley conducted Congregational services in his house and commenced work among the Aboriginals

He attempted to learn the language, took some children into his own family and addressed Governor Macquarie on 'the practicability of civilizing them. He was invited to draw up plans and in December was appointed superintendent and principal instructor of the Native Institution at Parramatta, the first of its kind in the colony

However, after establishing the school, he died on 6 July 1815.

According to Marsden, with whom he was on intimate terms, Shelley was a man 'of very comprehensive mind.' Macarthur described him as 'respectable and intelligent' Captain House found him an over 'busy' person, whilst to W. P. Crook he was 'bustling and active', with his heart set on this world'

Macquarie described him as well qualified and a 'Moral, Well Meaning Man' Mrs Shelley continued the work of the institution, but despite Macquarie's interest it met with little success and was closed in 1826.

Shelley's plans to reopen the Tongan mission were also abandoned, but later Mrs Shelley persuaded Rev Walter Lawry to reopen it

She died on 20 September 1878. Two of their sons, William (1803-1845) and George (1812-1852), were among the pioneers of the Tumut district, taking their herds beyond the Nineteen Counties in 1829.

Religion He and Elizabeth Bean were Church of England.


William (1st) Shelley was a missionary and trader in 1800, worked in pottery, carpenter and builder.

As well he was widely travelled in his work.

Blacktown owes its name to a school for aboriginies which was established at Parramatta under William SHElLEY by Govenor Macquarie.


1. Charles (1st) SHELLEY was born in 1803 in Tahiti, Iles Du Vent, Pacific Islands. Unfortunately Charles (1st) died in 1807in Parramatta, NSW. At the tender age of only about 4 years of age.

2. William (2nd) SHELLEY was born on the 1st April, 1805, in Parramatta, NSW. He married Miss Susanna Marsden HASSALL.

3. Lucy SHELLEY was born in 1806 in Parramatta, NSW

4. Elizabeth SHELLEY was born in January, 1808.

5. Mary Ann SHELLEY was born on the 12th December, 1810, in Parramatta, NSW. - (Ref- NSW BDM V1810708 148/1810).

6. George (1st) SHELLEY was born on the 12th October, 1812, in Parramatta, NSW. - (Ref- NSW BDM V1812813 148/1812). He married miss Amelia Matilda WADDY in Parramatta.

7. Rowland (1st) John SHELLEY was born in 1814, in Parramatta, NSW. - (Ref- NSW BDM V1814912 148/1814). He married Miss Maria Brillia Louisa PETERS on the 3rd October, 1838, in Parramatta.

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