A teenager from Suffolk, William Cawston was convicted for theft twice and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
He was deported to Van Diemen's Land on August 3, 1845 aboard the SS Stratheden from London, along with 71 other lads aged 10 to 17, from Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight.
The boys were referred to as "Parkhurst Boys". The ship docked in Hobart on Christmas Day, 1845.
Having received a Ticket of Leave before leaving England, William escaped incarceration, settled in Hobart, and resumed carpentry training.
By 1851 Cawston had set up a business in Elizabeth Street as a gilder and framer.
As would become common practice for William Cawston, he relocated his business to Collins Street, close to the Ship Inn.
By 1858, he had moved to Murray Street.
In 1859, Cawston opened a business as a carver, gilder, and framer in Paterson Street, Launceston.
He diversified into his new found interest - photography.
By September 1862, Cawston's Photographic Establishment was offering "PHOTOGRAPHIC WONDERS - Portraits in a Million.
A first-class likeness for ONE SHILLING AND SIXPENCE, including a gilt frame and glass complete".
Portraits were Cawston's main source of income, photographing both private persons and people in the public eye e.g., William Stammers Button, first Mayor of Launceston, James "Philosopher" Smith who discovered rich tin deposits at Mt Bischoff and Edward Ackerman, a convict who gained wealth and respectability.
One of Cawston's specialities was developing composite images, one example being the first 11 Mayors of Launceston.
Cawston was active in photographing Launceston and its surrounds, its buildings and scenery.
Examples of this work are contained in the album "Tasmanian Scenery by W. Cawston, Photographer" held by QVMAG.
William Cawston was commissioned to take twenty-one photographs of Launceston and its vicinity for the Tasmanian stand at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866 - 67.
Cawston produced outstanding images including two of his favourite, Corra Linn Bridge and Cataract Gorge.
He was awarded the prize for the best architectural image of the Exhibition.
In 1863 Cawston moved to premises in St John Street, moving again to a new building near Brisbane Street in 1884.
By 1887, the family had gone to New South Wales where Cawston ran a successful photographic business, Milo Studios in Wollongong. William Cawston contributed to many Sydney newspapers.
He later got into financial difficulties.
Cawston spent the last years of his life in Victoria, including living with his daughters Ethel and Amy in Melbourne.
In the last six months of his life, he resided at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Northcote, Melbourne.
Being over 60 and destitute were conditions of admission.
He passed away on June 3, 1916, aged 89, from senility and heart failure.
William Cawston was buried in the Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery in Melbourne on June 5, 1916 in the Church of England B section in grave 346, an unmarked grave.