William Powell was born on 19 July 1823 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England, son of Thomas Powell and Esther Hughes. His mother Esther and his gardener father Thomas were both from Banbury. Powell apprenticed as a carpenter and moved to London where he married Martha Tilbrook (1828-85) on 2 February 1850 at the Church of St John the Baptist Hoxton, Middlesex, England.
Powell, Martha and their son, Edward lived at 19 Eagle Street, London before they set sail for Sydney as bounty immigrants. They arrived aboard the vessel ‘Kate’ on 21 November 1854. Another son, Albert was born while they were in quarantine, however, he died two years later. The couple had another five children: Esther, William, Ralph, George (who died in infancy) and Clara. Their son William Albert Powell went on to become an alderman and mayor of Waterloo Council from 1904 to 1922. William Powell and his family lived at George Street, Waterloo (1865) and Botany Street on the Mount Lachlan Estate in Waterloo (1875).
Powell died at his home on Botany Street, Waterloo, on 31 October 1877, and was buried in the Old Church of England Section of Rookwood Cemetery on 2 November 1877. He left a Will and his estate and assets were assessed at £100.
Occupation & interests
William Powell was a carpenter and joiner in England before moving to Sydney. He was the licensee of the London Joiners’ Arms on Botany Road from 23 September 1857 until 14 September 1858 before becoming an alderman. Powell leased a shop from the merchant and philanthropist, Sir Daniel Cooper, on Botany Road in the early 1860s.
The business of Waterloo Council during the years Powell served as an alderman was largely concerned with laying down the municipalities basic infrastructure, forming streets, kerbing and guttering them, arranging for gas, water and sewerage to be connected to housing. The minutiae of these transactions is found in Council proceedings.
Local government service
William Powell was elected an alderman of the Waterloo Ward of Redfern Council on 14 September 1859. He formed part of the council’s first finance committee. Powell did not stand for election the following year, held on 14 February 1860. He stood for nomination for Waterloo Council in February 1862, but did not receive enough votes. He was elected to Waterloo Council on 3 March 1863 (or 30 April 1863) in lieu of Alderman Hawkesly, who had resigned. Powell served on Waterloo Council until 1866, and was elected a second term between 1874 and 1876.
A February 1862 notice in The Sydney Morning Herald called him: ‘The man who says he will upset all the work done by the Council if you put him in. Vote for him, and confusion in the Council, profusion in working expenses, and shame to yourselves, after what he did at Redfern’. A ratepayers’ petition was presented during a Council meeting on 6 June 1863. The petition objected to his election as alderman, and prayed ‘that his seat may be declared vacant’.
‘Redfern Municipality’, Empire, 15 September 1859, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60404677
‘Municipal Elections’, The Sydney Morning Herald 5 February 1862, p. 5, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13224205
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 1877, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13402458
‘Story Of A Council’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 1910, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15116051
‘Souvenir of Redfern Municipal Jubilee 1859-1909’, Redfern Municipal Council, 1909, p. 25