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John Randall (c. 1764–1822)

John Randall, a Black American, was found guilty on 14 April 1785 at Manchester Quarter Sessions of stealing a steel watch chain. Sentenced to 7 years transportation he was sent to the Ceres hulk while he waited to embark on the Alexander on 6 January 1787. He arrived in Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet. It is believed that he had been a slave of Captain John Randall of Stonington, Connecticut, United States of America. When he later joined the New South Wales Corps he gave his place of birth as New Haven, Connecticut.

Randall married Esther Howard/Harwood on 21 February 1788; she died on 11 October 1789. By then he was employed as a game keeper by Governor Arthur Phillip. Randall married Mary Butler on 5 September 1790; they had two children. he also had a daughter Frances who was born by an unknown mother before 1792. On 29 November 1792 Randall was granted sixty acres at number 92 Northern Boundary Farms, next to his fellow shipmate (and future son-in-law) John Martin. He sold the land to Joseph Holt in 1800 and joined the NSW Corps. He was described in 1808 as being 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a black complexion, black hair and black eyes. Discharged from the NSW Corps on 14 April 1810, he was working as a constable in Sydney Town in 1811.

Randall lived with a woman known as 'Fanny' following the death of his wife in 1802; they had four surviving children. In 1822 Fanny applied to admit two of her daughters to the Parramatta Native Institution, saying that she could no longer care for them as she was a widow.

information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 298
  • 'John Randall', Fellowship of First Fleeters, — accessed 24 February 2021

Original Publication

Citation details

'Randall, John (c. 1764–1822)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Randel, John
  • Reynolds, John
  • Raynolds, John
  • Randle, John

c. 1764
New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America


1822 (aged ~ 58)
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
Military Service
Key Events
Key Places
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years
Court: Lancashire
Trial Date: 14 April 1785


Children: Yes (7)