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.

James Heading (c. 1757–1790)

James Heading (c.1757-1790?) was found guilty on 7 March 1785 at Chelmsford, Essex, of two counts of horse theft. His death sentence was commuted to life transportation on 28 April 1785. He was sent to the Ceres hulk and was on the Justitia hulk by 24 September 1786. He embarked for New South Wales on the Alexander in January 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

David Collins reported the death of a convict named James Haydon in his journal in June 1790 who had been found drowned.

Soon after the muster was over, word was brought to the commissary, that his [Haydon's] body had been found drowned in Long-Cove, at the back of the settlement. Upon inquiry into the cause of his death, it appeared that he had a few days before stolen some tobacco out of an officer’s garden in which he had been employed, and, being threatened with punishment, had absconded. He was considered as a well-behaved man; and if he preferred death to shame and punishment, which he had been heard to declare he did, and which his death seemed to confirm, he was deserving a better fate.

It is thought that Haydon may have been James Heading, who disappears from records after his appearance as a witness at a trial in April 1790. The only Haydon in the colony at the time as at Norfolk Island.

Citation details

'Heading, James (c. 1757–1790)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Steading, James
  • Haydon, James

c. 1757


June, 1790 (aged ~ 33)
Lane Cove, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft (livestock)
Sentence: life