The Dance families of Gloucestershire


The Dance Family of Clearwell


John Dance 1827-1875




Joseph Dance & Clearwell

William Dance

Colin Dance's Research

HMS Raven's Log

Hannah Dance (Berrow)

19th Century Gloster Police

The Battle of Mickleton Tunnel


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Gloucestershire police constables at Northleach around 1860

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Gloucestershire's first County police force was formed in 1839. To find an experienced administrator the Shire recruited from the Irish Constabulary which had been formed in 1821. The first new Chief Constable was appointed in December 1839. He was Anthony Thomas Lefroy who brought with him 13 constables from the Royal Irish Constabulary to serve as a trained nucleus around which he could build his new force.

The city of Cheltenham had already set up a unit in 1831 based on the Metropolitan system. In 1839 it consisted of an inspector and 25 men. They were now absorbed into the County force giving Lefroy several more experienced officers. Their Cheltenham barracks then became the new County Headquarters.

The qualifications to become an officer were - To stand 5ft 7inches without shoes, to read and write and keep accounts, to be free from any bodily complaint, of strong constitution, and generally intelligent

Before releasing the new force onto the community each constable was issued with a staff plus a uniform and given brief instruction by the trained Irish constables.

The rates of pay in 1840 were 16 shillings (80p) for new constables and 22 shillings per week (£1.10) for sergeants. That year there were 230 constables on the payroll. 

In his first monthly report on the 30th of June 1840 he wrote : In consequence of of a report received at this office from the Superintendent of the Newnham (Forest of Dean) District that serious disturbances and rioting was expected to take place at the fair at Coleford on the 20th inst. , I ordered an additional force of 1 Superintendent and nineteen constables to attend there and I have much satisfaction in stating that everything passed off peacefully and that there was not the slightest disposition to disturb the public peace.

In 1842 Lefroy was forced to issue this notice : The Superintendent will inform all sergeants and constables of their districts that on no account or under any pretence whatever will they be allowed to carry pistols or other firearms with them when on duty and the first man reported for doing so will be instantly dismissed.  24th of September 1842.


An advert  recruiting new police constables sometime in the late 1830s read: working hours are at eight, 10 or 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with no rest days and one week’s holiday a year only. It went on to say "every encouragement will be given to officers to grow beards, as shaving is regarded as unhealthy".

All gossiping, and especially talking to women, was discouraged and although there was no official meal break, officers were invited to use their top hat to carry a snack around.


Joseph's son John Dance (1827) was born at Stonehouse, Devon.

He was living at Clearwell, Forest of Dean in 1841.

In March 1849 the 22 year old joined the fledgling Gloucestershire Police.  The police register describes him as 5 feet 8 and a quarter in height and his referee as the Rev. G  Rideout from Newland Parish in the Forest of Dean. 

The 1851 census records him as a police constable at the Cotswolds town of Chipping Campden. 

His superior officer there was James Childs Philpotts (born Painswick in 1821) who had been one of the earliest recruits to the Gloucestershire Constabulary, appearing as a constable on the staff of 31 officers at County Headquarters in Cheltenham on the 1841 census, and again as a Sergeant at Coleford in the late 1860s.

In July of 1851 the police at Chipping Campden became involved in the 'Battle of Mickleton Tunnel'. 

The Battle of Mickleton Tunnel took place near Chipping Campden  in July 1851 when Brunel's private army of 3,000 navvies fought the army of a disgruntled contractor who was backed by the forces of the local magistrates and armed police. The contractor, Mudge-Marchant, had stopped work on the tunnel as he was owed £34,000 by the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway.  

Brunel, as company engineer, had been instructed to evict Mudge-Marchant and his men who had commandeered the site.

This is thought to have been the last battle fought by private armies on British soil.

In 1852 constable John Dance married local postman's daughter Ellen Weston (1832). 

During the the next few years they moved to the nearby village of Stanton and later when Francis was born in 1859 to Pucklechurch, near Bristol. He was promoted to sergeant in June 1857 and received his discharge with a gratuity in November 1858.


Chipping Campden


After a brief period at Pucklechurch, the family then moved to Wiltshire. In 1860 they were settled at the fast growing new railway-works town of Swindon in Wiltshire where his occupation was given as 'court bailiff'. 

By 1871 both he and his son Francis (Joe) Dance (1859) were employed at the huge Railway Works, John as a clerk and Francis as a 'boy'. Youngest son Harry Paul (1861) was to work there as a boilersmith's apprentice in 1875.

John & Ellen's children were 

Hannah (1853)

Martha (1856)

Francis Joseph (1859)

Harry Paul (1861)

John Dance died at Swindon in February 1875. His wife Ellen remarried 3 years later. He was Stepney, Middlesex born brass founder William John Pringle (1832-1897). The couple settled down at Wolverhampton in Staffordshire.

When William died in 1897 Ellen joined her daughter Martha (Bessie) in New Jersey, USA.

Hannah was born at Chipping Campden, Martha at Stanton, Francis (Joe) at Pucklechurch and Harry at Chipping Sodbury.

Martha Bessie Dance married Swindon born Thomas Henry Fox (1851) at Wolverhampton in 1877. In 1881 they were living at 12 Wroughton Terrace, Rodbourne, Cheney, Wiltshire. They migrated to the USA in 1888.

John's daughter Hannah Weston Dance (1853) moved to Lye in Worcestershire and became a teacher at the elementary school. She married Thomas Piper a widower in 1891 at Wolverhampton. He was a Unitarian Minister.  In 1901 they were living at 216 St. Saviours Road, Aston, Birmingham.

Francis Joseph Dance was only 17 when he married Emma Louisa Scrivens at St Matthew, Stepney, London in 1876. In 1911 he was living at 20 Howie St., Wandsworth, Battersea. and was employed as a lift attendant.




Harry's Sister in America


Harry Paul's sister Martha Bessie Dance was born at Stanton, Gloucestershire in 1856. She married Swindon born engine fitter Thomas Henry Fox (1851-1933) at Wolverhampton in 1877. The couple were living near Swindon at the time of the 1881 census where he was probably employed at the large GWR works in that town.

According to Bessie's 1919 passport application the childless couple migrated to New Jersey, USA, Thomas in 1888 on board the steamer 'Nevada ' and Bessie following him the same year.

Thomas Fox returned to the UK alone in 1907 and the 1911 census records him as a self-employed clock repairer living with his widowed 83 year old mother Sarah Fox at Radnor Street, Swindon.

In New Jersey, Bessie, from sometime before 1910, had been employed by Horatio Miller, an accountant for the Broadway based American Can Company, to nurse his wife and then after her death, as his housekeeper.

The 1919 passport was apparently needed for 'business and illness of husband'. One could suspect that it was more to do with business as she was unable to produce a letter to the authorities she received from the UK informing her of his condition.

Thomas's 'incurable brain trouble', 'Mrs Fox is anxious to see her husband once more before he passes away, which may occur at any time' referred to in her employer Horatio Miller's reference letter for the passport, did not prevent Thomas Henry Fox from staying alive another 14 years, finally expiring at Swindon in 1933.

Bessie also related that 'she was prevented from making the visit sooner, first by the long illness and subsequent death of her blind mother, and then by the war: and she is now prepared to go as soon as she secures her Passport.'

Bessie's twice widowed mother, Ellen Pringle (formerly Dance), had sailed  to New Jersey on the 'Campania' in April 1897 to join her son-in-law and daughter when her second husband, William John Pringle, died at Wolverhampton.

After the trip home Bessie did not remain in the UK. She returned to New York aboard the 'Mauritania' on the 25th of November 1919. The January 1920 New Jersey census records her again as housekeeper to Horatio Miller's family at 210 Harrison Avenue, Westfield.





Harry's brother Joe


Francis Joseph (Joe) Dance was born at Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire in 1859. He was only 17 when he left Swindon and married Emma Louisa Scrivens at St Matthew, Stepney, London in 1876. 

In 1911 he was living at 20 Howie St., Wandsworth, Battersea. and was a lift attendant.

The photo on the left was sent to his brother Harry in 1904.The one on the right shows an older Joe without his legs.

If I have the correct Francis Joseph Dance from World War I records, the 55 year old joined the Royal Field Artillery at Woolwich in August 1915. 

90494 Sgt Francis Joseph Dance was discharged in July 1918 a few months before the war ended. The fact that he had no overseas medals indicates that Joe probably served all his World War I service in England. His record card refers to reference AO265/17 2d which translates - "after service at Home and having been medically examined and finally discharged from liability to further military service as permanently and totally disabled."

My guess is that his being accepted as a recruit, and serving as a sergeant at a training unit in his mid-fifties, means that he probably already had some earlier military experience. Tom


Photos from Kevin Holloway




Goulburn Evening Penny Post Thursday 29th July 1915

Fifteen of one Family killed.

On Wednesday, Mr H. P. Dance, an old naval man, received a letter from his sister in America informing him that among the branches of the family in England, 15 young men had gone to the front in France and all were killed in action.



Early Swindon

"Swindon is a market town in the hundred of Kingsbridge, eighty miles from London, thirty-eight from Salisbury, nineteen from Devizes, and eleven from Marlborough; pleasantly seated on the banks of the Wilts and Berks canal, by which navigation the trade of this place is much facilitated; - Mr William Dunsford, whose residence is at the Wharf, is the superintendent. Adjoining the church yard is a fine spring of water, which turns a corn mill within fifty yards of its source; and about a mile and a half south of the town is a reservoir, covering upwards of seventy acres, for supplying the canal. The population of the entire parish, according to the census of 1821, consisted of 1,580 inhabitants." (From Pigot & Co's National Commercial Directory for Cornwall, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, Somersetshire and Wiltshire, 1830)



In 1832, members of the Bristol Merchant Venturers and the Bristol Corporation proposed a rail  link between London and Bristol.  By 1840 the line was in use and Daniel Gooch and Isambard Kingdom Brunel decided that a locomotive depot would be ideally situated in Swindon.   An estate of stone houses in neat rows, back to back, were built for the workers to live in and the need for a Church was considered an urgent necessity.   

When George Henry Gibbs, head of the firm of Anthony Gibbs & sons of London, died in 1842, he left the sum of £500 towards a Church and school in Swindon.  In February 1843, the Great Western Railway appealed for “individual contributions from the proprietors to promote the means of religious instruction and worship for the men and their families to be located there”.   Soon a fund of £6000 was available for the building of the new Church. 

Daniel Gooch records in his diary that machinery started at the Swindon site on 28th November 1842 with the factory beginning  work on 2nd January 1843 resulting in the building of a major industrial construction and repair centre. This was in a location with, at that time, no schools, recreational facilities, shops or markets within easy reach. 

John Dance and his family were living at 19 Albert Street in 1861 and 80 Regent Street in 1871.


Harry Paul Dance


My two images below show the entry in the Indentures Register of Harry Paul's record of his employment as an apprentice locomotive boilersmith with the GWR Swindon Works.

On the 3rd of June 1875, a few months after the death of his father, 14 year old Harry Paul Dance signed up for seven years as an apprentice boilersmith with the Great Western Railway in their Swindon Works. During the first year he was paid 5 shillings (25 pence) per week and by June 1878 that had risen to 9 shillings.

His older brother Joe had already left Swindon Works in 1876 to marry Emma Scrivens at Stepney, London. 

In September of 1878, the year his mother Ellen remarried and moved to Wolverhampton in the Midlands, Harry is listed as having 'absconded'. In those times runaway apprentices were imprisoned if apprehended. 

His navy record shows that it was during that same month the 17 year old joined the Royal Navy, and was posted to the training ship HMS Boscawen at Portland Harbour, Dorset. For obvious reasons he gave his civilian occupation as 'labourer' when signing up for 10 years service.

He remained with the Boscawen until May 1880 when he was posted to  HMS Monarch.






Harry's first ship


HMS Boscawen was moored in Portland Harbour, Weymouth and served as a training vessel for young sailors. The caption below the picture on the left reads Fumigation of a training vessel: 1. H.M.S. Boscawen: "All fair without"; 2. Pounding the Sulphur: Naval Pestles and Mortars; 3. Preliminary Experiment; 4. Trying heat of water - 4a. Result; 5. Letting the cat out of the bag; 6. "Stand by, Lighting party"; 7. A rush for fresh air; 8. "Carpenters, Batten down hatches"; 9. No Escape'




Harry Paul Dance (1861-1917) joined the Royal Navy in 1878 on a ten year engagement. When the 1881 census was taken on the 3rd of April he was an Ordinary Seaman on board the sloop "Cruiser" anchored in Syracuse Harbour, Sicily. He served on a number of ships including  the gunnery training ship HMS Cambridge at Plymouth, HMS Monarch and his last posting, the gunship HMS Raven. He also served two short terms in Darlinghurst Gaol before buying his early discharge from the navy for twelve pounds at New South Wales in 1886. 

He married  Elizabeth Wilberforce at Balmain, NSW in 1888. She was born Elizabeth Alice Watmough (1857). Her father was shoemaker John Watmough (1834) from Manchester, UK whose wife was Surrey born Emma Sarah Church (1839). 

Elizabeth had married Frederick Wilberforce in 1875 and the couple had two surviving children, John F B Wilberforce (1878-1921), and Albert R S Wilberforce (1882).

At the time of his marriage to Elizabeth, Harry Dance was employed as a warder at Callan Park Asylum. 

Two of their 9 children were born at Balmain and the remainder at Goulburn. 

Harry Dance died at Goulburn in 1917 and Elizabeth in 1922.


Their children were :

Annie Elizabeth Dance (1889-1962)

Henry John Dance (1890-1890)     Didn't live very long. I am attempting to get actual dates. (Kevin)

Emma Ellen Weston Dance (1891-1959)

Grace Beatrice Margaret Dance (1893)

Mary A. Dance (1895)

George A. Dance (1897-1913)

Martha B. Dance (1899)

William Harry Thomas Dance (1900-1978)

Florrie Ethel Dance (1902-1903) Born December and died January. Only lived 30 days. 






Harry's Service Record




                                                                                             Acknowledgements to  Lyn Hudson-Williamson of Canberra



Harry Paul Dance's Naval discharge certificate signed by the Captain of the Raven in October 1886.


HMS Raven


link to   HMS Raven's Log  by Colin Dance

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The screw gunboat HMS RAVEN  at Sydney in 1888.  465tons. 380hp. Composite Gunboat launched in 1882. Its Sydney anchorage was usually at Farm Cove. Harry Dance was serving as a gunner on this boat from April 1883 until he paid for his discharge from the Royal Navy in October 1886.



File:HMS Monarch (1868) William Frederick Mitchell.jpg


HMS Monarch was the first sea-going warship to carry her guns in turrets, and the first British warship to carry guns of 12-inch (300 mm) calibre. Harry Dance served for two periods, May 1880- December 1880, and June 1881- January 1882.



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Watercolour of the Gaol by inmate Henry Louis Bertrand, 1891

Darlinghurst Gaol. Harry Dance served two sentences, one for 28 days and another for 42 days, during the 12 months between April 1883 and May 1884. 

Closed in 1914 the site was transferred in 1921, to the NSW Department of Education who adapted the building for use as the East Sydney Technical College.  The National Art School is now the sole occupant of the site.

1887 NZ newspaper



Grace Dance (1893) married Goulburn born railway worker Selby Shurety (1892) at St. Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn on Boxing Day 1916. Selby was the son of sailmaker Joseph Francis Shurety. 

Selby and Grace had two children, Neville Paul (1921) and Merle May (1929). 

In 1919 Selby joined the Navy and served as a steward on Sydney based HMAS Platypus which was a depot vessel for the 'S' Class destroyers, and later a general squadron repair ship and 'maid of all work.' In the late 1920s she underwent a name change to HMAS PENGUIN and acted as an alongside depot ship at Garden island for the new submarines HMAS OTWAY and HMAS OXLEY - which, almost unused, were transferred to the Royal Navy in 1931.    see  HMAS Platypus

Selby died at Goulburn in 1936 and Grace remarried in 1946. He was William Henry Muffett



St Saviour's Cathedral in 1921



Selby's daughter, Merle May Shurety, is Kevin Holloway's mother. Neville Shurety married Eileen Mitten and had three children, Margaret, Tony and Robin.


Mary Dance (1895) married George Swift at St Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn in 1916.George died fighting in World War 1. Mary remarried William Hunter.


Martha Dance (1899) married William Atkins at Goulburn in 1920. They moved to Cootamundra, NSW Australia and have five children.


William Harry Thomas Dance (1901) married Annie Faith Wallis at Goulburn in 1923. He was a railway worker and lived most of his married life at 32 Lagoon Street, Goulburn. Annie died in 1972 and William in 1978.They had one child, Betty who married Vince Cunningham.


George Aubrey Dance 1897-1913 died of a brain hemorrhage at Goulburn after an accidental fall.


Harry's mother-in-law Surrey born Emma Watmough (bn 1839)


Harry's wife Elizabeth (bn 1857) with grandchildren Aubrey Atkins (left) and Neville Shurety in 1921.


Grace (bn 1893) & Annie Dance


Annie Dance (1889-1962)




I find what seems to be a wedding photo of Annie Dance (1889-1962) a bit puzzling. There appears to be no record of a marriage amongst family supplied data or those currently available on-line, and the Goulburn directories 1930-1943 has a single woman, Annie Elizabeth Dance, employed as a hospital cook. Tom


Your comment under the photo of Annie Dance  is correct, Annie died a spinster. I have been told there was as a man in her life who came from and went back to England. She travelled to England to see him and found out he was married. She went back to Australia and swore off all men, so the story goes.

What appears to be wedding photos for Annie, Grace and Mary are actually the outfits for their Debutante Ball held at, I believe the Masonic Lodge in Goulburn.   Kevin



Harry's son George Dance (1897-1913)



June 12th 1913






I went to Goulburn the other week to pick up some artefacts of Aunty Annie Dance's from the Kenmore Hospital Museum. While I was in Goulburn I went to the old Anglican Cemetery and based upon a list of interred residents Iocated one headstone with two occupants.  I also took a photo of the main gate.

 Now this cemetery is located right behind the Goulburn Maximum Security Prison. As the Cemetery is right next to the Prison fence the guards were most curious as to my presence, to the point they sent out a guard to investigate.

 The headstone displays two names:

1.    George Aubrey Dance "who was accidentally killed at Goulburn, 11th June 1913 in his 16th year. This death is documented in the posted News Article on your web site Tom entitled "Shocking Fatality in Goulburn" dated June 12th 1913.

 2.    Florrie Ethel Dance who died 13th Jan 1903 aged 30 days.    Kevin  8/12/2011




April 22nd 1922




Mary Hunter (nee Dance) 1895-1967



Harry's daughter Mary Dance (1895) married soldier George Swift at St Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn in 1916. 

George Swift sailed from Sydney to serve in France on the troopship 'Star of England ' on the 8th of March 1916, only 10 days after his wedding, and was killed in action on the 16th of July. He is buried at Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France. 

His wife Mary later remarried. He was Irish born railway worker William John Hunter (1895-1977).


Aug 8th 1916


Clippings kindly supplied by Kevin Holloway

Jan 7th 1977



Nov 10th 1914

Oct 21st 1920

Oct 8th 1959



Harry's son William Dance (1901-1978) and his wife Arnice Wallis (1902-1972)


January 29th 1958

May 16th 1972



4th of August 2010

My name is Kevin Holloway.

I am sending this e-mail as I googled my ancestor Harry Paul Dance which provided a hit for the website. My mother is Merle May Shurety, her mother was Grace Beatrice Muffet (nee Shurety) wife of Selby Carl Hampstead of Goulburn NSW Australia. I have often wondered about my heritage and felt a warm rush when I found the aforementioned web site. I would dearly love to learn more. I know my cousin has been doing a bit of research, he is the son of Selby Carl Hampstead and his name was Neville.      I hope I am not on the wrong track here



Since sending this email, Kevin has added, and continues to supply, a large amount of unique and interesting material about Harry Paul Dance and his family.






Goulburn Evening Penny Post Saturday 1st of December 1917


An old and respected resident of Goulburn, Mr Henry Paul Dance, died at the local District Hospital on Thursday night. Deceased sustained a paralytic stroke, and was admitted to the hospital ten days ago. Mr Dance was a native of Swindon, England. In his younger days he served for a period of ten years in the Navy on HMS Raven and the Nelson. He was an attendant at Callan Park Mental Hospital for 10 years and was subsequently transferred to a similar position at Kenmore which he had occupied for the past 22 years. He is survived by a widow, five daughters, one son and two stepsons. Mr Dance was an esteemed member of the Masonic Order and the MU 100F Lodge. He had been tyler of both Masonic Lodges for years.


Goulburn Evening Penny Post Saturday 12th June 1915


In sad but loving memory of George A Dance who was killed at Goulburn June 11th 1913. Inserted by his parents, sisters and brothers.

(15 year old George Aubrey Dance 1897-1913 died of a brain hemorrhage at Goulburn after an accidental fall.)


Goulburn Evening Penny Post Saturday 26th February 1916


The Rev. Canon Carter officiated at a quiet but pretty wedding solemnised in St Saviour's Cathedral on Thursday evening. The bride was Miss Mary Alice Dance, fourth daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry P Dance, of Bradley Street, Goulburn, and the bridegroom Sergt George Edward Swift of the Australian Imperial Forces, Liverpool.

The bride was given away by her father. Her costume was of white voile with guipure lace trimmings, and a hat to match. A gold pendant and a bouquet were gifts of the bridegroom.

The bridesmaids were Miss Bessie Dance, sister of the bride, and Miss Bonnie Folkard, the former wearing white silk, and the latter white voile. The bridesmaids' presents were a gold pendant and a gold brooch respectively. The reception was held at the home of the bride's parents, and Sergt and Mrs Swift subsequently left for the South Coast for the honeymoon. The bride travelled in a gray silk sponge cloth costume, with hat to match. Many valuable and useful presents were received. Until her husband returns from the front Mrs Swift will reside with her parents.

Sgt George Swift sailed from Sydney to serve in France on the troopship 'Star of England ' on the 8th of March 1916, only 10 days after his wedding, and was killed in action on the 16th of July. He is buried at Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France. 


Goulburn Evening Penny Post Thursday 28th December 1916

Wedding   Shurety - Dance

On Tuesday morning Mr Selby C H Shurety, youngest son of the late Mr J F Shurety and Mrs Shurety, of Addison Street, Goulburn, was married in St Saviour's Cathedral by the Rev. S. Broadfoot to Miss Grace Beatrice Dance, third daughter of Mr and Mrs H.P Dance, of Bradley Street, Goulburn. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a travelling dress of Fuji silk with hat en suite, and carried a shower bouquet of Maman Cochet roses, carnations and ferns, finished with white streamers of the same shade. The bridegroom's present to the bride was a handsome silver backed hairbrush, and to the bridesmaid a gold brooch. The bride's present to the bridegroom was a pair of gold sleeve links. Mr D Denny was best man. After the ceremony a reception was held at the residence of the bride's parents, the Rev. S Broadfoot presiding. The newly married couple left by the express for Sydney and the South Coast. Their future home will be in Goulburn.



The  items above, and most of the family data, were contributed by Kevin Holloway and his mother Merle Low (nee Holloway, nee Shurety daughter of Grace Dance)

Should you wish to contact Kevin his email address is









Mrs Helena Dance and her part in Western Australia's History  



First of all - let me quickly explain that she is not related to any of the Gloucestershire or Wye Valley Dance families. I have included this section as a result of a couple of queries from Australian family members asking if there is any connection.

Born Helena Barbara Roper (1808-1863) she married Londoner William Townsend Dance (1789-1857) at Westminster in 1828. William was the son of another William Dance, a musician who is credited with forming the first London Philharmonic Society.

Lieut. William Townsend Dance  entered the Royal Navy in 1806 and became a full Captain in 1834.  In 1829 in command of HMS Sulphur he accompanied the  settlers under Captain James Stirling to Western Australia.

The origins of the present state had begun with the establishment of a British settlement at King George Sound in 1826 (later named Albany from 1832). The settlement was founded in response to British concerns about the possibility of a French colony being established on the coast of Western Australia.

In 1829, the Swan River Colony was established on the Swan River by Captain James Stirling. By 1832 the British settler population of the colony had reached around 1,500, and the official name of the colony was changed to Western Australia. The two separate towns of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the state's capital, Perth.

William's ship, HMS Sulphur, had sailed from England in early February 1829, and arrived on June 8th carrying Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Irwin, 57 crew and 69 troops, with 22 wives and 12 children. 

The soldiers were mainly from the 63rd Regiment and brought in to protect the settlers. The Sulphur was placed at the disposal of the colony and was to provide a useful service in all sorts of ways for the next 3 years. It returned to the UK in December 1832.

The couple had seven children. Their only child born in Australia, Arthur Dance (1832), also wore a uniform for most of his working life. He was a clerk and ticket collector at Peterborough, Northants railway station for many years.

This ceremony seems to be William and Helena’s only brush with fame. He did appear in the London Gazette in 1843 as being imprisoned for debt. Most of his later years were spent in Devon and he was promoted to retired Rear Admiral in 1846 but without an increase in his Captain’s half-pay. William Townsend Dance died in 1857 and Helena in 1863.






The official ceremony depicted in this painting was held on a small hill overlooking the Swan River. As no stones were readily available, it was decided to mark the occasion by felling a tree. The only woman fit enough to accompany the party so far up the river from Fremantle, Mrs Helena Dance, was invited to strike the first blow. The Foundation of Perth depicts Mrs Dance holding the axe and about to make the first cut. Immediately to her right in the painting is an axe-man, waiting to complete the task. Other people depicted in the work include Lieutenant Governor James Stirling, Captain Charles Fremantle, Commander Mark John Currie, Captain Frederick Irwin, Captain William Dance, the Colonial Secretary Peter Broun, Dr William Milligan and the Surveyor-General Lieutenant John Septimus Roe.


Australian Michael Norbury has been in contact. He is related to this Dance family, a descendant of James Dance of Winchester and his son Giles Dance (1670-1751) of London. Click here for his  family tree.