On this page...

William Galvin, 1787–1873

William Galvin was born in Ireland. While attached to the local police in Athlone, he bayoneted a rioter during a civil disturbance and was convicted of manslaughter. He was transported to NSW in 1826. In 1829 Galvin was released and appointed as messenger in the office of the Clerk to the Legislative Council, Edward Deas Thomson. Thompson was responsible for the general administration of the Museum.

William Galvin, Custodian, 1831-1835
The beginnings of the Australian Museum was located in the rooms of the Legislative and Executive Council Chambers Image: unknown
© Australian Museum

After the death of zoologist William Holmes in August 1831, Galvin managed the Museum until May 1836, when he resumed his position as parliamentary messenger. He had been conditionally pardoned in 1832.

From November 1831 the Museum was located in ‘spacious rooms’ in the old Legislative Council building in Macquarie Street. Dr George Bennett later the Secretary and Curator, visited the Museum about this time and wrote that ‘it forms an excellent nucleus for a splendid collection’.

Galvin was assisted by John William Roach, a convict and former London taxidermist. Roach was initially employed to mount bird skins, but was later formally employed as ‘Collector and Preserver’ from 1836 to 1840.