People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

John Spence (c. 1759–?)

John Spence (c.1759- ), alias John Pearce, was found guilty on 10 December 1783 at the Old Bailey, London, of the theft of goods from a tobacconist and grocer. 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.

Spence was ordered to receive 25 lashes for drunkenness on 11 September 1789. He was sent to Norfolk Island on the Supply in January 1790. He and John Howard received 50 lashes each on 19 November 1790 for stealing potatoes. By early December he was settled on 12 acres at Mount Pitt Path, Queenborough.

John Spence left Norfolk Island on the Chesterfield in March 1793. This ship was eventually heading for India. No further colonial records have been found for Spence.

* information from Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 339

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Spence, John (c. 1759–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Pearce, John

c. 1759
Middlesex, England

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
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years