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John Ryan (c. 1764–?)

John Ryan (c.1764-1815), a silk weaver, was found guilty (as John Bryant) on 14 January 1784 at the Old Bailey, London, of stealing a woollen cloth coat and a hat. Sentenced to 7 years transportation to America, he 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.

Ryan was tried, along with Joseph Hall, Henry Lavell, and Thomas Barrett, for the theft of food from stores on 27 February 1788 at Sydney Cove. Ryan's sentence of 300 lashes was forgiven, his irons were removed and he was sent back to work again. In November 1788 he was accused of theft from Ann Warburton but the charge was dismissed after Francis Fowkes, with whom he was sharing a hut, spoke up for his honesty.

Robert Sidaway employed Ryan to care for his house in 1789 and to bring in water. Ryan was sent to Norfolk Island on the Sirius in March 1790. By July 1791 he was subsisting two people on a Queenborough lot with 50 rods cleared. He married Sarah Woolley in a mass wedding ceremony on the island in November 1791; they had four children. The couple were settled on 10 acres at Mount Pitt Path, Queenborough, in December 1791 and were selling grain to the government within a year. Ryan left Norfolk Island for Port Jackson on the Kitty in 1793; Sarah and their daughter Elizabeth left on the Francis in March 1794.

In March 1795 Ryan received a 30 acre grant at Mulgrave Place and a further 30 acres in January 1797. He disappears from records after 1800. It is not known if he died or left the colony. His wife Sarah remained in the colony and in 1800 received a 100 acre grant of land in her own name.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 320

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Ryan, John (c. 1764–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Bryant, John

c. 1764

Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years