William came to Australia with his parents William and Flora Allen and his brothers: Frederick (11) and George Henry (4). They went to live with Flora's brother George Fowler in West Street, Davington (Port Adelaide). While at that address Williams sister Flora was born. Later they moved to Lipson Street in Port Adelaide. William senior died in 1897. Young William had to leave school aged 10 years to help support the family.
As a young man Willilam went to Western Australia where he worked as a saw doctor, sharpening saws for those cutting down the forests. He dutifully sent money home via money order to his widowed mother. William returned to Adelaide and eventually set up the Adelaide Saw Works in the central business district.
William married Ellen Abbie Shiell in 1908. The Shiell family had come from Scotland in 1854 on the 'James Fernie'. Ellen was born in South Australia.