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Fisher, John (c. 1767–1788)

John Fisher (c.1767-1788) was a seaman on the Lady Penrhyn when he arrived at Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. He had a relationship with Catherine Hart during the voyage; their son John Fisher was born on 7 September 1787 on the Prince of Wales during the voyage after Hart had been transferred to that ship.

Fisher and Hart continued their relationship at Port Jackson until Fisher died on 25 March 1788 from a chill after swimming ashore to be with her in the woods. Surgeon Bowes-Smyth wrote about Fisher's death in his journal:

March 25th. This Eveng. abt. 7 o’Clock died John Fisher, Seaman on board our Ship of a Dysentery — Several of the men on board had the same disorder & recover’d, & I attributed the death of this young man (abt. 20 years old) in a great measure to his own imprudence, in swimming on Shore naked in the middle of the night to one of the Convict women wt. whom he had formed a Connection & who had a Child by him while on board — he wd. lye abt. wt. her in the woods all night in the Dews, & return on board again a little before day light, whereby he caught a most violent cold & made his disorder infinitely more putrid than it wd. otherwise have been, (if he did not wholey occasion it by such improper conduct).

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 127

Citation details

'Fisher, John (c. 1767–1788)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 7 February 2023.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1767


25 March, 1788 (aged ~ 21)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events