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Joseph Elliott (c. 1765–1836)

Joseph Elliott (c.1765-1836), alias Joseph Trimby, a gardener, was found guilty on 24 November 1784 at Somerset, England, of stealing a tobacco pouch. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, he was sent to the Dunkirk hulk and embarked on the Friendship in March 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Elliott was ordered to receive 300 lashes on 25 May 1790 for the theft of one and a quarter pounds of potatoes. He also had his flour ration stopped for six months and was to be chained for that time to John Coffin and John Bayliss; his flour ration was resumed a few days later.

In December 1790 a punishment on Norfolk Island was recorded for Jas. Elliott, carpenter, at Charlotte Field (who was probably Joseph Elliott). He received 100 lashes for shirking his duty (he could only bear 75). In May 1791 the same man (Jas. Elliot) was reported seriously injured by a falling tree.

By July 1791 Elliott was subsisting himself and Elizabeth Siene on a Phillipsburg lot, with 95 rods cleared; the couple were married in a mass wedding ceremony on the island in November 1791. They were settled on 12 acres by February 1793.

Using the name Joseph Trimby from June 1794 he was recorded with Elizabeth Siene and one child. In December 1796 he leased 60 acres on Norfolk Island. In 1805 he was recorded without a wife (who had died) but with two sons; a third son had died.

Trimby remained on Norfolk Island, working as a carpenter for the government, until leaving for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on the Lady Nelson in January 1813, settling on 70 acres at Norfolk Plains. His two adult sons went separately to VDL on the same ship. On 15 June 1818 Trimby and his sons were sentenced to 14 years at Newcastle penal settlement for sheep stealing. Granted a ticket of leave in 1825 he was employed, with his sons, by Captain Francis Allman at Wallis Plains in 1828; his age was given as 81. Trimby was described in 1825 as being 5 feet 4½ inches tall, with a sallow complexion, brown to grey hair, and dark eyes. He was pardoned in 1831, through Allman's influence.

Joseph Trimby was buried at Maitland on 25 June 1836; his age was given as nearly 89 but he was almost certainly much younger.

information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 118-19
  • Sr Andrea Myers, 'Joseph Elliott alias Trimby', Fellowship of First Fleeters website, — accessed 24 September 2020

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Elliott, Joseph (c. 1765–1836)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Trimby, Joseph
  • Eliot, Joseph
  • Eliott, Joseph
  • Elliot, Joseph

c. 1765
Horningsham, Wiltshire, England


24 June, 1836 (aged ~ 71)
Maitland, 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