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Cropper, John (c. 1755–?)

John Cropper and John Barford were found guilty, on 14 December 1785 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing a trunk full of clothing from a waggoner. Sentenced to 7 years transportation both men were sent to the Ceres hulk. They arrived at Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Alexander as part of the First Fleet.

Cropper was sent to Norfolk Island in March 1790 on the Sirius. By 1794 he was working as a labourer for Owen Cavanough. Cropper left Norfolk Island for Port Jackson on the Daedalus in November 1794. In September 1795 he sailed for India in the Endeavour but after his ship was scuttled near New Zealand he was brought back to Norfolk Island.

In 1801 Cropper bought 10 acres of land on Norfolk Island from Thomas Gregory. John was associated with the orphan school on Norfolk Island and arranged for Frances Williams' children (Elizabeth 9 and Jane 11) to be baptised, recording himself as Jane's father. It is believed that Robert Ryan, a soldier, who had abandoned his children when he returned to the mainland, was their natural father.

In 1805 John was listed as a settler with a wife Mary (Tuck) — also a convict — and one child. In 1807 Cropper and his wife moved to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on the Porpoise and took up 21 acres at Brown's River in April 1809. His daughter (now 15) seems to have travelled separately. In 1819 Cropper was appointed a constable but a year later was dismissed for falling asleep on the job.

In September 1813 he was recorded with 20 acres at Queenborough. In 1823 he was granted 20 acres of land at Drummond, but the ownership was transferred to Joseph Johnson of Green Ponds.

In 1824 Cropper appealed to the government for assistance after a bushfire destroyed everything on his property. He stated that he was aged 86 and his wife Mary was 90.

On 6 November 1826 Mary Cropper, a 'poor woman', was buried aged 92. No death record has been found for John Cropper.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 86-87

Citation details

'Cropper, John (c. 1755–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 30 October 2020.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1755


Tasmania, Australia

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