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John Gowen (c. 1763–1837)

John Gowen (c763-1837) was a corporal in the 47th (Portsmouth) marine Company when he arrived at Sydney aboard the Sirius in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. He was sent to Norfolk Island on the Golden Grove in October 1788, to assist with the new settlement. Deciding to settle on the island he was granted 60 acres at Cascade Stream, Phillipsburg, in October 1791.

Gowen returned to Port Jackson on the Atlantic in 1792, enlisted in the New South Wales Corps as a private in June 1793 and was promoted to corporal in 1795. Leaving the corps in 1799 he was appointed storekeeper at Sydney in January 1800 and was granted 200 acres at Liberty Plains, part of 260 acres allowed for a double tour of duty. He does not appear to have cultivated the land. He joined the Sydney Loyal Association in 1802 and was a sergeant in 1805. Granted 100 acres at Bankstown in 1806 he was recorded as holding 100 acres in 1807, all pasture on which he grazed six cattle and one sheep.

In 1808 Gowen joined the anti-Bligh faction by adding his signature to a letter to John Macarthur, asking him to arrest Governor Bligh and take command of the colony. Gowen was granted 208 acres at Parramatta in August 1809. He resigned his post as storekeeper in July 1810, for which he had earned a yearly government salary of £75, but was re-employed in 1815, this time at Liverpool, and held a small piece of land on which he grazed two horses and five hogs. Gowen retired on a pension of £52.50 per annum on 23 January 1823. He was described as a farmer in 1828, with 10 acres of land.

Gowen had married Ordery Appleyard on 1 June 1805 at St Philip's, Sydney; both signed the register. They had six children. Following his wife's death in 1819 he married Mary Wood on 27 November 1821 at St Luke's, Liverpool. He died at Kiama on 28 April 1837 and was buried at the Protestant cemetery.

information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 146-47
  • Barbara Turner, 'John Gowen Marine Corporal' Fellowship of First Fleeters website, — accessed 29 October 2020
  • Biographical Database of Australia — — accessed 29 October 2020

Citation details

'Gowen, John (c. 1763–1837)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Gowan, John

c. 1763
Ribbesford, Worcestershire, England


28 April, 1837 (aged ~ 74)
Kiama, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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