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John Herbert (c. 1763–1832)

John Herbert (c.1760-1832) and John Small were found guilty on 14 March 1785 at Exeter, England, of highway robbery. Their death sentences were commuted to 7 years transportation on 5 April 1785. The men were sent to the Dunkirk hulk in January 1786 and embarked for New South Wales on the Charlotte in March 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Herbert married Deborah Ellam on 2 April 1788. She earned 25 lashes on 5 December 1788 for accusing him of beating her without cause. She was also ordered to return to her husband. They went on to have seven children.

Herbert received a 70 acre grant at Prospect Hill in early 1792. He was a successful farmer. In August 1800 he owned 20 pigs and two horses, and had five acres sown in wheat and and six ready for planting maize. Two years later he had 35 acres cleared. In August 1806 he owned three male and two female horses, one bull, two cows, four oxen, 16 male sheep, 40 female sheep, two female goats, eight male hogs, and four female hogs. His whole family was being fed off stores as well as his one convict and one free employees. By 1820 he held 150 acres, including 80 acres by purchase at Evan.

Following his wife's death in June 1819 Herbert married Ann Dudley on 21 October 1819 at St John's, Parramatta. They had one son in 1820. Herbert had divided his 80 acre purchase at Evan among his sons prior to 1822 and made provision in his will for the 70 acre grant at Prospect to be divided evenly among seven of his surviving children and left several houses in Parramatta to his wife. He was listed in 1828 as a dealer.

John Herbert was buried on 4 April 1832 and was buried beside his first wife at St John's, Parramatta; his age was given as 72 and his occupation as shopkeeper.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 172

Citation details

'Herbert, John (c. 1763–1832)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1763


3 April, 1832 (aged ~ 69)
Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: death
Commuted To: 7 years
Court: Devon
Trial Date: 14 March 1785


Children: Yes (8)