Petty Officer 1st Class William Selway was born in Portland, Dorset in May 1850 and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class aboard the Training Ship H.M.S. St. Vincent in May 1865. A number of seagoing appointments followed, including no less than four stints on the Duke of Wellington, until his appointment to H.M.Y. Osborne as a Petty Officer 1st Class in May 1885. Selway remained in her service until July 1893, in which year he was pensioned.