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Charles Peat (1759–1813)

Charles Peat (1759-1813) was born in London, England, on 25 November 1759, the eleventh and last child of wine merchant, George Peat and his wife Bridget. Charles married Mary Cannon on 5 January 1779 at London.

Less than three years later on 7 December 1781 at the Old Bailey, London, Peat was found guilty of highway robbery — he held up Richard Down's coach and asked for money. His death sentence was commuted on 10 October 1782 on condition that he served in the navy. Peat joined HMS Prince Edward two days later as an ordinary seaman, was transferred to the Belleisle on 22 December and ran away from the ship on 26th December. He was later caught and committed to Newgate Gaol in April 1783. Lord North informed the Recorder of London that Peat would be transported to Nova Scotia for life. 

Peat was one of the prisoners who mutinied on the convict transport Mercury in April 1784. He escaped from the ship and returned to London. Recaptured, he was retried at the Old Bailey on 7 July 1784 for 'feloniously returning from transportation, and being found at large in this kingdom'. He was remanded to be sent to Africa and was sent to the Ceres hulk in April 1785. Instead he was discharged to the Scarborough in February 1787 and arrived in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

Peat married Hannah Mullens on 22 February 1788; they had at least eight children. In August 1789 Peat was made one of the principals of the nightwatch. He was granted a conditional pardon on 29 November 1792 and had a 90 acre grant at Eastern Farms by September 1795.

Taking one of his sons with him, Peat returned to England on the Buffalo in 1800, working his passage as a seaman. He was granted permission to return with his son on the Glatton in April 1803. He left the colony again with his wife and son William in 1812.

Charles Peat was buried on 1 June, 1813 at Fort William, Calcutta (now Kolkata), India.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 280

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Peat, Charles (1759–1813)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Peate, Charles
  • Peet, Charles
  • Peatis, Charles

25 November, 1759
London, Middlesex, England


31 May, 1813 (aged 53)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India

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: life