Male colonial sketcher who drew landscapes throughout his migration to Australia. He eventually squatted in the Western District of Victoria where he pursued an anthropological interest in local indigenous culture.
sketcher and squatter, left Portsmouth, England for Hobart Town on 19 August 1842. He kept an illustrated diary from embarkation until 17 March 1843, when he was in the Western District of Victoria. An engraving on copper, Facsimilie [sic] of Sketches Made by Mm. [sic] Wm. Adeney during a Voyage to Port Phillip, Australia , depicts 18 separate scenes from Porto Santo to Madeira, Tasmania and Port Phillip, the last showing an Australian Aboriginal family. This visual narrative gave popular access to what, even in 1842, was still a largely unknown landscape, exemplified in Adeney’s own diary entry: 'the map presented to me by James Brewster proved very useful being the exactest on board and was often referred to by Captain Cosby’. This map enabled Adeney accurately to identify the subjects of his sketches as he passed between the South Cape and Bruny Island, Van Diemen’s Land.
On 12 December 1842 he made 'a rough sketch’ of South Cape, thumbnail sketches of De Witt’s Island, Newstone, Eddystone Rock and the entrance to D’Entrecasteaux Channel, as well as a page sketch, Bruny Island, Tasman’s Head South Side , which was accompanied by his written observations: 'At this point the sky became clearer and the sun and wind dried the deck at the same time beautifying the landscape exceedingly. We could now discern some of the features of the country which now looked extremely rugged and wild, covered in some parts with thick scrub, in others nearly bare or short scant herbage’. He also sketched The Iron Pot Light House, Mount Wellington .
On 16 January 1843 Adeney left for Victoria. Five days later he sighted Port Phillip Heads, which he sketched, including the lighthouse and the pilot station. Disembarking at Melbourne on 22 January 1843, he went to the Western District where he called upon the squatters Roadknight and Manifold. He made ornithological observations, and he met with 'the natives’, whom he recorded as 'not as ugly as is often represented although their noses are often deformed with a piece of Kangaroo bone put through the orifice’, and keenly observed them hunting. This anthropological interest was to continue after Adeney took up the Choclyn run, which he held until 1867. In the early 1860s he wrote to the Melbourne Yeoman and Acclimatiser on the purpose of Aboriginal mounds found near waterholes in the Western District.