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John Martin (c. 1757–1837)

John Martin, a Black American seaman, was found guilty on 3 July 1782 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing clothing in a house. Sentenced to seven years transportation, he was sent on the Den Keyser for Africa but was brought back after falling ill and was sent to Newgate Gaol and then, in 1785, to the Ceres hulk. He arrived in Sydney in January 1788 aboard the Alexander as part of the First Fleet.

On 30 August 1788 Martin received 25 lashes for lighting a fire in his hut. On 29 November 1792 he was granted 50 acres at the Northern Boundary Farms and was off stores by 1795. He had married Ann Toy/Joy on 26 August 1792; they had no children.

Martin was also working as a constable by 1806 and in 1820 was listed as a poundkeeper. Following his wife's death in 1806 he married Mary Randall, the daughter of his neighbour, and fellow shipmate from the Alexander, John Randall. He was pensioned off as a constable in 1828 but still held 50 acres of his land in the Northern Boundary district. He died at the Field of Mars on 21 December 1837 and was buried at St John's Parramatta.

information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 239

Citation details

'Martin, John (c. 1757–1837)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1757


21 December, 1837 (aged ~ 80)
Ryde, 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: 7 years
Court: Old Bailey, London
Trial Date: 3 July 1782


Occupation: merchant sailor