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John Owles (c. 1752–1806)

John Owles (c.1752-1806), a married man with five children, was found guilty on 20 July 1785 at Croydon, Surrey of sending spring saws and a file into a prison to help in the escape of people. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, he embarked for New South Wales on the Alexander in January 1787, arriving in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Owles married Mary Wilson at Sydney Cove on 27 September 1789; they had no known children. The couple were sent to Norfolk Island on the Sirius in March 1790. By 1796 Owles had acquired 60 acres of land from Robert Watson. In 1802 he was working as overseer of tools. 

John Owles died on Norfolk Island on 14 December 1806. His wife was credited with £20 for their house.

information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 271
  • HMS Sirius 1796-1790, — accessed 11 September 2020

Citation details

'Owles, John (c. 1752–1806)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1752


14 December, 1806 (aged ~ 54)
Norfolk Island, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Convict Record

Crime: helping gaol escape
Sentence: 7 years