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Thomas Barrett (c. 1758–1788)

Thomas Barrett was found guilty (as Thomas Barret) on 11 September 1782 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing some clothing, a silver watch with chain, seal and key from a dwelling house. His death sentence was commuted to life transportation on 10 September 1783. He was originally ordered to be transported to America but after a convict mutiny on the ship Mercury — and his subsequent recapture — he was sent to Dunkirk hulk in June 1784. He arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Charlotte as part of the First Fleet.

On 27 February 1788 Barrett, Henry Lovell and Joseph Hall were tried for stealing beef and pease from the stores. Lovell and Hall were reprieved. Barrett was the first person to be hanged in New South Wales.

Lt Ralph Clark wrote in his journal 27/2/1788:

a Criminal court Sits to day for the Trayer of Such Prisoners as may be brought befor them — amons the Number to be tryd is two that came out of the Ship with me Heny. Lovell and one Ryan — at 1 oClock there Centance was read the charge being clearly Proven of their Stealing Butter Pease and Pork — Thomas Barrit Heny. Lovell Josh. hall and Ryan the three former Received Centance of death and the Latter to Receive 300 Lashes — at 5 oClock PM the Battalion was order under arms for the centance of the Land to be put into Excution and soon after we mach to the place of Execution which was a Tree between the male and female convicts Camp — at a Quarter after 5 the Unhappy men wair brought to the place of Where the[y] were to Suffer when after the Parson had done prayers with them — the Provos Martial put the halter a bout the neck Thos. Barret and he mounted the Ladder — from his going I dont think that he had the least thought that was to Suffer but when the Provos Martial put a handkerchiff a bout his head he turned as white as a sheet — when Soon after the Ladder was puld from under him and he Lanched into the other world without a gron — from every Account he was a great Rascall — the other two Lovell and Hall wair Respited Untill to Morrow — after Barret had hung the usuall time he was cut down and put into a Grave near the Tree by Some of the convicts. 

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 25

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Citation details

'Barrett, Thomas (c. 1758–1788)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Barnett, Thomas
  • Barrit, Thomas
  • Barret, Thomas

c. 1758


27 February, 1788 (aged ~ 30)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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
Key Places
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Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: life