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Robert Ryan (c. 1758–?)

Robert Ryan (c.1758- ), a nailer by trade, was a marine in the 32nd Company when he arrived at Sydney aboard the Prince of Wales in January 188 as part of the First Fleet. He served in Captain John Shea's Company at Port Jackson. During the voyage he was sent to the Sirius for insolence, was court martialled, and received 175 of 300 ordered lashes.

Ryan's daughter, Sarah, with Frances Williams was baptised at Port Jackson on 16 July 1789; all three were sent to Norfolk Island in March 1790 (Williams and Sarah on the Sirius, Ryan on the Supply). The couple were still together, with two — perhaps four — children, in June 1794.

Ryan was discharged from the marines in December 1791 and received a 60 acre grant at Mount Pitt Valley, Queenborough; he sold the property to Richard Brown in February 1796. Ryan had enlisted in the New South Wales Corps in 1794. By 1799 he was serving under Captain John Macarthur in NSW. He received a 120 acre grant on the north shore of Port Jackson in April 1800 which he sold straightaway to Charles Grimes.

Ryan returned to Norfolk Island in 1801 with the NSW Corps. Frances Williams had died sometime between 1797-1801 when few death records were kept. When Ryan left the island in 1804 their children were left in the care of John Crooper/Cropper and Noah Mortimer. He continued to serve with the NSW Corps and left the colony for England with the corps on the Dromedary in April 1810. He was described as being 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a round swarthy face, grey eyes and grey hair. He was discharged on 5 September 1811, aged 54 years.

 information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), pp 320-21
  • Cathy Dunn, 'Frances Williams, Convict, Prince of Wales 1788', HMS Sirius 1786-1790, — accessed 22 September 2020.

Citation details

'Ryan, Robert (c. 1758–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1758
Newry, Armagh, Ireland

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