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John Harmsworth (c. 1785–1860)

John Harmsworth (c.1785-1860) arrived at Sydney with his parents Thomas (a marine) and Alice, and sister Ann, aboard the Prince of Wales in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. After his widowed mother married Daniel Stanfield in 1791 he went with them to Norfolk Island in October 1791. By 1802 he was a drummer in the New South Wales Corps, having enlisted in December 1794. He had a child with Sarah Wheeler in 1805; they left with him for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) when he transferred to the 73rd Regiment in 1810.

Harmsworth remained at Hobart until April 1814 when he sailed by the Windham for Ceylon (Sri Lanka) when his regiment was transferred there. He was discharged from the 73rd Regiment in 1820 and returned to VDL. His stepfather and brother gave him breeding cattle. He petitioned Lieutenant Governor Arthur unsuccessfully for a land grant. The 1843 Census showed Harmsworth as unmarried and living with his half-brother Daniel Stanfield at Eastern Marshes. He was still living with Stanfield when he died on 21 September 1860 at Clarence Plains; his age was given as 73, his occupation as farmer and cause of death as influenza.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 159-160

Citation details

'Harmsworth, John (c. 1785–1860)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1785


21 September, 1860 (aged ~ 75)
Clarence Plains, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Military Service
Key Events