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John Driver (1773–1810)

John Driver, a cordwainer, was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing a silver watch valued at two guineas. By 1797 he was living with Elizabeth Snailham (nee Needham). They ran an inn in Sydney (under Elizabeth's name). Elizabeth also had a 40 acre land grant at Bulanaming. Around 1799 the couple went back to England and returned to the colony in 1801 as free settlers with their three children on the Minorca. In that same year Driver leased 81 rods in Sydney on the west side of Chapel Row (later known as Castlereagh Street) where they operated a warehouse and general store. He also occupied premises on a site adjoining the new bridge in Sydney. This was probably the 66 rod allotment he leased jointly with Simeon Lord in July 1809.

The couple were strong supporters of the Rum Rebellion. Driver was one of 16 of the colony’s principal inhabitants who signed a letter of support, written by John Macarthur and addressed to Major Johnston, on 26 January 1808, the day of the coup. Elizabeth subscribed £30 towards Macarthur’s expenses for his anticipated trial in England. Driver received a 200 acre land grant at Cabramatta from the anti-Bligh regime. He died at his Chapel Row house on 28 February 1810 having signed a will which appointed his wife sole executor and beneficiary. An obituary notice in the Sydney Gazette stated that he left a wife and five children “to regret the loss of a fond husband, and an indulgent parent: of whom it may also be asserted, that no man in existence had ever fewer enemies, or deserved them less”. Driver left his estate to Elizabeth. In his will he stated they had been married ten years on 29 May, suggesting a marriage in England in 1800. No marriage record has been located.

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Citation details

'Driver, John (1773–1810)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]




23 February, 1810 (aged ~ 37)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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