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James Murphy (c. 1742–1804)

James Murphy (c.1742-1804), a shoemaker, was found guilty on 11 August 1783 at Exeter, Devon, of a highway assault and theft of a silver watch, silver groat and other goods. His death sentence was commuted to 7 years transportation to America. Murphy was among the prisoners who mutinied on the convict transport Mercury in April 1784. Recaptured, he was sent to the Dunkirk hulk in June 1784. He was discharged to the Friendship in March 1787 and arrived in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. 

Murphy was sent (as John Murphey) to Norfolk Island on the Sirius in March 1790. By December 1791 he was cultivating 4 acres and took a lease for 12 acres in August 1792 which he still held in December 1796. He had been living with Susanna Pickett since 1793.

James Murphy died at Norfolk Island on 20 May 1804.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 259 and HMS Sirius 1786-1790 — accessed 11 August 2020

Citation details

'Murphy, James (c. 1742–1804)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Murphey, John

c. 1742
Devon, England


20 May, 1804 (aged ~ 62)
Norfolk Island, 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: 7 years