William was born about 1805 in Chester. His parents are unknown. At the age of 19 he was transported for life to the British penal colony of New South Wales (NSW). He had been tried the previous year at the Cumberland Assizes and found guilty of breaking into, and stealing from, a draper's shop at Longtown. He arrived in Sydney in 1825 on board the ship Minstrel.
By 1834 William had been granted a ticket of leave, and was employed as a sheep overseer by Captain John Coghill of Bedar Vale near Braidwood, NSW.
In 1837 he applied to the Governor for permission to marry Susannah Wainwright, a young convict woman from Manchester. Susannah was, however, already married to another man, John Painter, a convict still under sentence. A child, born to William and Susannah on 16 April 1837, was christened later the same year at St James Anglican Church, Sydney, under the name of William Chatterton.
Susannah was subsequently reunited with her husband and the child William was raised as a member of the Painter family.
In 1852, at St Peter's Melbourne, William Chatterton married a widow, Emma Jane Worgan (nee Vegg). A child, William Hudson Chatterton, was born in 1857. William Chatterton senior died in 1869 at Melbourne Hospital.
Emma was born in Portsmouth in about 1818, the daughter of Samuel Vegg and Elizabeth Barrett. She arrived in Australia in 1839 on the ship Prince Regent, accompanied by her husband, Garstone (?) Gooding. Her husband must have died soon after arrival, because the following year Emma was married at Broulee, NSW, to Richard Worgan, a former convict.
Two daughters, Margaret and Louisa, were born to Richard and Emma. No record has been found of Richard's death, but in 1853 Emma married for a third time to William Chatterton. She died in 1869 in Melbourne.