People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Catherine Arscott (1765–1793)

Catherine Prior (c.1765-1793), Mary Braund and Mary Haydon were found guilty, on 20 March 1786 at the Exeter Assizes, of highway robbery. Their death sentence was reprieved to seven years transportation and they were sent to the Dunkirk hulk. The women embarked on the Charlotte on 11 March 1787 and arrived in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. Prior gave birth to a son John Matthew Prior on 14 November 1787 during the voyage. The child was baptised at Port Jackson on 10 February.

On 8 December 1792 Prior married John Arscott. In April 1793, after her sentence had expired, she left the colony with her husband for England aboard the Shah Hormuzear. In July Arscott was left behind on an island, after the party he went ashore with, to get some water, was attacked. When Arscott finally made it to Batavia he learnt that his wife had died of 'spotted fever' on board the Shah Hormuzear two days before it had made port in September 1793.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 293

Citation details

'Arscott, Catherine (1765–1793)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 30 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Prior, Catherine
  • Fryer, Catharine



September, 1793 (aged ~ 28)
at sea

Cause of Death

spotted fever

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Passenger Ship
Key Events
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years