People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Robert Forrester (c. 1757–1827)

Robert Forrester and Richard McDale were found guilty on 30 April 1783 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing six guineas in gold coins from a man who had shared a bed with them in lodgings. The men's death sentences were commuted to 7 years transportation to America on 10 September. Forrester was sent to the Censor hulk in October 1783 and arrived in Sydney aboard the Scarborough in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

In 1791 a marriage was recorded between Robert Forster and Mary Frost. It is uncertain if it was this Robert Forrester or Robert Forster from the Matilda or even one of the several Fosters in the colony that is being referred to. There is also uncertainty about which Mary Frost he married.

One week after the marriage Forrester was sent to Norfolk Island on the Atlantic. He returned to New South Wales in 1793 and by 1794 was living on 30 acres at Mulgrave Place. By mid 1800 his household included his common-law wife, Isabella Ramsay, with whom he had been living since 1793, and five children. From at least 1814 he lived with Jane Wilson.

The Bench of Magistrates met on 17 October 1794 to examine the death of a young Aboriginal boy, shot by Forrester at the Hawkesbury. Forrester claimed the boy was a spy and was trying to find out how many muskets the settlers had.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 131

Original Publication

Other Entries for Robert Forrester

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Forrester, Robert (c. 1757–1827)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1757


14 February, 1827 (aged ~ 70)
Wilberforce, 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
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: death
Commuted To: 7 years
Court: Old Bailey, London
Trial Date: 30 April 1873


Children: Yes (9)