Augustus Pulteney Dana, my first cousin four times removed,  born 1 February 1851 at Dandenong, was the son of of Henry Edward Pulteney Dana (1817-1852),and Sophia Cole Hamilton née Walsh (1827-1860). At the time Henry Dana was commandant of the Victorian Native Police.

Augustus was their youngest child. His brothers and sisters were:

  • Cecile Sophia (1845-1908), who married James Colles in 1866 and had children (with present day descendants)
  • William Henry Pulteney (1845-died before 1852)
  • Harry (1843-1854) 
  • Charlotte Elizabeth Kinnaird (1848-1848)
  • George Kinnaird Dana (1849-1872)

In 1852, when Augustus was only one, his father Henry died. Four years later his mother Sophia married his father’s brother William Dana. They had one child, who died as an infant. Sophia died in 1860 and her second husband, Augustus’s uncle and step-father William Dana, died in 1866.

1851: born
1852: father dies
1854: death of brother William who was aged 11, from scarlet fever in Launceston, Tasmania
1856: mother marries uncle
1860: mother dies
1866: uncle, who is also his step father dies.

In November 1867 Augustus, sixteen years old and said to have been ‘uncontrollable’, became a ‘ward of the state’, the term used to describe a child under the guardianship of a State child welfare authority.*

His legal guardian was a police magistrate, Mr Sturt, a former colleague of his father and uncle. Sturt paid 10 shillings a week towards Augustus’s keep.

In January 1868 Augustus absconded but was brought back a day later. In February he was sent to live on a hulk at Williamstown called the Nelson.** This vessel, described as a ‘training ship’, was in fact a floating reformatory for refractory boys.

HMVS Nelson, Williamstown, Victoria, Apr 1898. Image from Find and Connect, originally from Museum Victoria.

A few months later, on 30 May 1868, Augustus died there of scarletina (scarlet fever) after an illness of 3 days. On his death certificate ‘occupation’ was recorded, stretching the truth a little, as ‘ordinary seaman’. His father was given as George Dana, inspector of police, with mother not known. Clearly the informant knew very little about Augustus’s family.

Augustus was sent off with an impressive funeral in naval style at Williamstown cemetery, probably at least in part intended as a contribution to the moral education of his fellows. His grave is unmarked.

NEWS AND NOTES. (1868, June 3). The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924), p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from

results from deceased search on Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries website
I believe this is the site of the grave of Augustus Dana – photographed October 2016


* see: ‘Victorian Former Wards of the State are people who were removed from their families and placed in government or church operated orphanages, children’s homes or foster care as children. The Victorian government took legal responsibility for their care.” See:

** “The Nelson was a hulk (ship) anchored off Williamstown, Hobson Bay. From 1868, it housed boys aged ten who had been sentenced under the Neglected and Criminal Children’s Act of 1864. By 1872, the vessel housed 383 boys. It was abandoned in 1876 when the boys were transferred to the Bendigo Benevolent Asylum Industrial School, Sandhurst, and later to Sunbury Industrial School.” See:

Further reading