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William Sims

1 portrait of William Sims

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William Sims

by Charles Turner, published by John Clay, after James Lonsdale
mezzotint, published 16 December 1816
20 1/8 in. x 14 7/8 in. (510 mm x 379 mm) paper size
Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Pilgrim Trust, 1966
Reference Collection
NPG D41710

Sitterback to top

  • William Sims, Collector of the customs. Sitter in 1 portrait.

Artistsback to top

  • John Clay (active 1816), Printseller. Artist or producer associated with 1 portrait.
  • James Lonsdale (1777-1839), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 107 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.
  • Charles Turner (1773-1857), Engraver. Artist or producer associated with 620 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

Placesback to top

Events of 1816back to top

Current affairs

Marriage of Princess Charlotte to Leopold I.
Income Tax abolished.
Unsuccessful Spa Fields Riot led by the ultra-radical Arthur Thistlewood which aimed to attack the Tower of London and the Bank of England and set up a ruling 'Committee of Public Safety' following the French model.

Art and science

Jane Austen publishes Emma.
Leeds and Liverpool Canal completed.


British Government buys the Elgin Marbles, taken from the Acropolis in Athens by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, and brought to England between 1803 and 1812. Their acquisition prompts support from Thomas Lawrence and Benjamin Robert Haydon and condemnation from Lord Byron.
Slave rebellion fails in Barbados; four hundred slaves are executed.

Tell us more back to top

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Gary Carter

11 February 2018, 05:08

William Sims, was my 5x great grandfather I would like use the picture of him on my family tree site.

William Sims worked for HM Customs for 60 years and retired in 1813 as Collector of Customs. Jane Hobbins Wade (1760-1838), married William Sims (1735-1822), his second marriage, on 10th January 1882 and went on to have six children with him in London. Arabella (1782), Robert Hobbins (1784), Reynard Edward (1786), Frederick (b1786), Alfred (1793) and Felicia (1794). Jane and William had an unhappy marriage and Jane left him to go to NSW.

Jane received a commission from the Macquarie government to be Midwife to the colony of NSW, a task she carried out for two years before taking up teaching. They travelled to NSW in 1810, on board the ship Friend, arriving in 1811. Jane was then 50 with two adult children, Alfred and Felicia. Their passages were paid by the government. Life was not easy for Jane in the new colony, despite land grants for her status as midwife to the colony. Elizabeth or Felicia as she was called, married a Wexford convict scholar Isaac Woods, they went on to establish the Sydney Academy (a forerunner to Sydney Grammar). Felicia died at the young age of 28 in 1821 and Isaac died 2 years later in 1823, sadly leaving their children in the care their Grandmother Jane. At the time Alfred was having his own health problems from a snake bite and his wife Mary Anne had breast cancer.

Jane wrote many letters to the Governor for assistance and at one stage, even for return passage to England, all to no avail. In the end, due to Janes age and poor health, all 4 of Felicia's children became orphans with various institutes and people. The youngest Louisa Wood was sent the Parramatta girls orphanage and had to co-habit with some of the Parramatta Female Factory children. She would have been traumatised by this change in her life style and died at the early age of 8 in 1829.

In February 1813, two years after Jane left, William was awarded a pension of £1550 in recognition of his years of government service.The Will gave Jane a shilling and the Australian children received nothing. Williams comment in relation to Jane stated; “To Jane Hobbins, formerly Jane Wade, to whom I was unfortunately married, but from whom I have many years since been divorced or separated, the sum of 1 shilling, that upon receiving the same, she gives a discharge accordingly to my executors”.

William’s will outlined a number of substantial bequests to his England-domiciled children and grandchildren only. At the time he made his will in 1817 he was living in Great Surry Street, Christchurch, Middlesex, probably at the same address as his daughter Arabella, who had married Thomas Watson Esq, who also worked for HM Customs. (William’s son Reynard also worked for HM Customs.)

William was painted by the artist Charles Turner and the work was published in 1816; the portrait is held by London’s National Portrait Gallery.

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