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John Irving (c. 1760–1795)

John Irvine (c.1760-1795), alias John Aderson, alias John Anderson, alias John Law, a surgeon, was found guilty on 6 March 1784 of stealing a silver cup. His death sentence was commuted to 7 years transportation on 15 July 1785. Sent to the Ceres hulk he was dispatched to the Scarborough in February 1787 before being transferred to the Lady Penrhyn. He arrived at Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Irvine had acted as assistant to the surgeon of the Lady Penrhyn during the voyage to New South Wales. In February 1790 he was appointed by Governor Philip to go to Norfolk Island as assistant to the surgeon Dennis Considen; the remainder of his sentence was remitted, making him the first convict to be emancipated. Ralph Clark wrote in his journal on 28 February 1790:

I find that the Governor has Remitted the Remainder of the Sentance of Transportation on John Irvin in Consequence of the unremitted good Conduct of the Said Irvin and is to be considered as Restord to all those rights and privelges which he had been Suspended In consequence of the Sentance of the Law and is appointed to be an assistant Surgeon at Norfolk Island ... I am very glad that Irvin goes with use for I think the best Surgeon amongst them.

Irvine went to Norfolk Island on the Sirius in November 1790, returning to Port Jackson on the Supply in May 1791. He received a 30 acre grant at Parramatta on 22 February 1792. He died(as John Irving)  on 13 September 1795 and was buried at St John's, Parramatta, before he had received news that he had been appointed assistant to the surgeon with a salary of £50.

Irvine's son with Ann Marsh was born on 12 January 1796. 

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 188-89

Original Publication

This person appears as a part of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2. [View Article]

Citation details

'Irving, John (c. 1760–1795)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Aderson, John
  • Anderson, John
  • Law, John
  • Irvine, John
  • Irvin, John

c. 1760


12 September, 1795 (aged ~ 35)
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
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: death
Commuted To: 7 years
Court: Lincolnshire
Trial Date: 6 March 1784


Occupation: surgeon


Children: Yes (1)