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John Bayliss (c. 1750–1811)

John Bayliss (c.1750-1811), a silversmith, was found guilty (as John Baylis) on 25 February 1784 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing three silver bridges for shoes buckles and half an ounce of silver from his master. Sentenced to seven years transportation he embarked on the Mercury for America on 30 March but, following an unsuccessful shipboard mutiny, was sent to the Dunkirk hulk in June 1784. He arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Friendship as part of the First Fleet. In May 1790, as one of 'two public Delinquents', he was chained to John Coffin, working on the roads.

Bayliss was sent to Norfolk Island some time in 1790. By 1 July 1791 he was maintaining himself on a Queenborough allotment with 40 rods cleared. He shared a sow with John Brindley and John Walker. In January 1792 he held 12 acres at Queenborough, was 'off stores' and living with Elizabeth Douglass. In November 1794, Bayliss, Douglass, and their daughter Rose, left the island for Port Jackson. He received a 30 acre grant of land in May 1797. The 1806 Muster shows Bayliss working as a carpenter for J. Underwood and Henry Kable.

 John Bayliss died on 30 August 1811 at Sydney; his age was given as 60.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 29-30

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Bayliss, John (c. 1750–1811)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Busley, John
  • Basley, John
  • Baylis, John
  • Bayless, John
  • Bailess, John

c. 1750
London, Middlesex, England


30 August, 1811 (aged ~ 61)
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
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Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years