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John Bentley (1764–1824)

John Bentley and William Atkins were found guilty of sacrilege (probably theft from a church) and sentenced to fourteen years transportation on 22 April 1789 at Peterborough, (Northamptonshire) Assizes, England. They were sent to Stamford Gaol but, after almost escaping, were moved to the Thames hulk Justitia at Woolwich, London. The pair arrived in Sydney in June 1790 aboard the Neptune as part of the Second Fleet.

On 7 April 1792 Bentley was among nine men and woman who stowed away on the Pitt transport as the ship sailed for Norfolk Island. Bentley was left at the island. He was recorded as a landholder in 1805 Muster but was landless and single when he left for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) aboard the Estramina in May 1808. He was granted 30 acres of land at Clarence Plains. He later built up a large flock of sheep at Kangaroo Point, outside Hobart. In 1815 he was at a meeting supporting the establishment of a criminal court in Hobart.

In March 1818 he was sentenced to death for being involved in the theft of 200 sheep; some of the sheep were found in his flock. His sentence was commuted to 14 years transportation and he was sent to the Newcastle penal settlement in April. He was murdered at Newcastle on 12 March 1824. Three men were tried for the murder.

* information from Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet: Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790 (1993), p 160

Citation details

'Bentley, John (1764–1824)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hanley, John
  • Bentley, William



12 March, 1824 (aged ~ 60)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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Convict Record

Crime: sacrilege
Sentence: 14 years