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Samuel Day (c. 1767–1849)

Samuel Day was found guilty, on 23 March 1785 at Gloucester, England, of breaking into a house and stealing nearly two pounds of warp yarn from a clothier. His death sentence was commuted to 14 years transportation. Sent first to the Censor hulk, he arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Alexander as part of the First Fleet.

On 6th March 1789, Day and 15 other convicts left the brick kiln where they were working and "marched to Botany Bay... to attack the natives and to plunder them of their fishing-tackle and spears". One of the convicts was killed and seven were injured. Initially they claimed the attack was unprovoked but they were forced to admit the truth.

Each was sentenced to 150 lashes and then placed in a leg iron for a year. Seven were punished on 7th March, four others on 4th April. The first was witnessed by a local Aboriginal man, Arabanoo, who was present at the initial incident and was told why the punishment was being administered. He "displayed ... symptoms of disgust and terror only".  

Day was sent to Norfolk Island on the Surprize in August 1790. In July 1791 he was supporting two people on a one acre lot at Sydney Town. In 1792 he was ordered to undergo 200 lashes for working during government hours for his overseer.

By 1794 Day was living with Mary Bolton and by 1810 he was selling grain to the government. With his wife and two children he left for Port Dalrymple, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), in 1813 and farmed 40 acres of land at Norfolk Plains and 30 acres at Morven. The two children going to VDL with the Days seem to have been adopted. Mary (b.1797) and Catherine (b.1802) both had Sullivan as their surname.

Day was appointed a constable at Port Dalrymple in May 1818. In May 1827 a colonial office record described him as destitute and living in Launceston. He died at Launceston on 8 May 1849; his occupation was given as sawyer and his age as 106.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 102-03

Citation details

'Day, Samuel (c. 1767–1849)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1767
Dursley, Gloucestershire, England


8 May, 1849 (aged ~ 82)
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

general debility

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
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 14 years