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James McDonaugh (?–1791)

James McDonaugh (c.1752-1791?), a labourer, and Thomas Matson were found guilty on 11 July 1785 at Maidstone, Kent, of stealing a leaden pump 200 pounds in weight and £2 in value. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, they were sent to the Ceres hulk on 26 December 1785, and to the Justitia hulk on 25 July 1786, and were discharged to the Alexander in January 1787. They arrived at Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

McDonaugh was sentenced to 200 lashes and wearing an iron chain for six months on 26 September 1788 for stealing a smock frock and two pairs of trousers. He disappeared from records after 1791. He may have been the James Downey who was recorded by David Collins found hanging in his hut at the end of October 1791 (no First Fleet convict was named Downey).

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 230-31

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Citation details

'McDonaugh, James (?–1791)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • McDonnaugh, James
  • McDonnough, James
  • McDonagh, James
  • McDonough, James
  • Downey, James

October, 1791
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years
Court: Kent
Trial Date: 11 July 1785


Occupation: labourer