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John Herbert

John Herbert, one of 262 convicts transported on the Lady Penrhyn, Scarborough and Alexander, January 1787

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Herbert
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1760
Occupation: Farmer
Date of Death: 1st April, 1832
Age: 72 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Highway robbery
Convicted at: Devon Lent Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Charlotte
Departure date: 13th May, 1787
Arrival date: 22nd January, 1788
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 25 other convicts


Primary source: http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/johnherbert_deborahellam.htm Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 1
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

KerrieAnne Christian on 10th June, 2013 wrote:

1788 – 4 – 2- Marriage of John Herbert and Deborah Ellam – Source : The Pioneer Register

Lesley Forbes on 2nd November, 2013 wrote:

I would like to know about the following information which, contradicts the information I have on John Herbert and Deborah Ellam.

John Herbert (Scarborough) was born on 26 April 1767 in London, “in a narrow street called Long Lane which is situated in the District of Smithfield, Parish of St Andrew’s, Town of Holborn.” He was baptised John Alexander Herbert.
When almost 17 John was charged with Simple Grand Larceny and tried at the Old Bailey on 21 April 1784 for stealing, on 5 April, a silk handkerchief said at the trial to be valued at one shilling. He was sentenced to seven years transportation. The transcript of John’s trial shows he was probably one of a gang of youthful pickpockets.

On 6 September 1784, now recorded as aged 17, John was sent to labour on the hulk Censor, moored on the Thames.
After two years of this life, on 24 February 1787, John was sent by wagon to Portsmouth, and three days later he was embarked on Scarborough. This ship, of 430 tons, the second largest of the six transports carried 208 male convicts, “including some of the most desperate felons in the fleet. A few days out of port, “an informer revealed to the captain that certain prisoners were planning to seize the ship. The ringleaders were flogged. There is no evidence that John was in involved. Indeed, it seems that he was never again in trouble with the law, in any way worth recording.

In Sydney Cove John, over two years, evidently led a life as uneventful as was possible in a settlement struggling for survival. Then on 4 March 1790 he was sent on HMS Sirius to Norfolk Island.
John was one of the 116 male convicts, along with 67 female convicts, 27 infants, 65 marines and 5 marines’ wives, sent by Governor Phillip on the only ships remaining in Port Jackson, HMS Sirius and HMS Supply, to relieve pressure on dwindling food reserves and to foster an alternative source of supplies. Sirius was wrecked in Sydney Bay on 13 March 1790 after discharging all of its complement, but leaving John and his companions effectively marooned to make their best of their second emigration to foreign parts.

On 2 June 1790 Lady Juliana arrived at Sydney Cove having embarked 227 women convicts on the Thames. Among the convicts was Hannah Bolton, born in Birmingham and at the age of 18 transported for burglary,  along with an associate, Elizabeth Richards. On 1 August both women were embarked on Surprize as part of a group of 194 convicts being transferred to Norfolk Island. Hannah formed a relationship with John Herbert and bore six children, with John presumed to be the father of them all. They were Charlotte (1792), Elizabeth (1794), James (1795), Jemima (1797), Elizabeth II (1799) and Ann (1801).

Hannah died when Ann was just 3 months old, and at 32, was laid to rest in the Kingston cemetery on 4 September 1801. She had certainly fulfilled the role that the Government expected of her, in producing a family of six children. Descendants now extend into the thousands and reach the tenth generation born in Australia. Several have become prominent, including Rex Garwood who in 1987 was the first inductee into the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame. 

John remained on the Island for 23 years. He was allotted land from which in 1794 he began selling grain to stores.  In 1802 he was named as a settler whose time had expired and as a constable. In the 1812 Muster he was noted as holding 12 acres, with 9 planted in grain. He had 72 sheep and 9 hogs.

John and two of his children, James (17) and Elizabeth (14), were evacuated to Van Diemens’s Land aboard Minstrel on 18 February 1813. He left with a Class 1 classification, ascribed to those persons who were Old Servant of Government, ie, an emancipated convict and one who had proved to be “industrious and deserving of favour”. He was paid ten pounds for his two-storey house, which measured 18 feet by 10 feet.

The trio arrived at Port Dalrymple on 4 March. On Minstrel there were 26 settlers, 15 prisoners, one wife and 9 children. These people were to be the core of a settlement at Norfolk Plains, southwest of Launceston, now known as Longford. 
John was granted 50 acres at Norfolk Plains and James received an adjoining 60 acres. His Class 1 entitlement enabled John to have a house erected equivalent to the one he had left behind. It also entitled him and his family to the benefits of axes, shovels, nails and hoes and to be victualled for two years. Further, he was allowed the labour and victuals for four convicts for the first nine months and two for fifteen months longer.

Within a year or two John had built his home, which still stands, though renovated, on a hill above the South Esk River. The property is known as Rocky Hill. The land below the hill and the river became known as Herbert’s Hollow, and the river crossing, where later a bridge was erected, was called Herbert’s Ford.

John and James evidently shared the growing success of farmers in the area. James married Ann Cox in January 1819. By October 1819 John Herbert was listed as having 26 acres of wheat, 24 acres of pasture, 2 horses, 100 cattle and 151 grain in hand. James was in residence with his wife, and their children, Susannah and William. There is no evidence that John ever had a wife living at Norfolk Plains. It is apparent that he was the patriarch and son James the family man.

James and Ann were to have four more children, Mary Ann, John, James and Charles. Elizabeth had left, having married John Chapman in March 1814. John and Elizabeth had six children: Sarah, James, Thomas, Ann Jane, William Thomas and Susannah. Their family too prospered with properties around Launceston at Ravenswood, Invermay and Evandale.
Ann Herbert died on 31 August 1827, aged 29, leaving a young family. James did not remarry, and with his father, now in his seventh decade, continued to work the land, while Susannah cared for her siblings.

FF John Alexander Herbert died at Hope Inn, Westbury, on 19 November 1846. He was buried in in St Andrew’s Anglican Church Cemetery, in the Parish of Westbury and his age was given as 83. There were then four generations of his family living in Van Diemen’s Land. In 1964, the historian Isabella Mead wrote that she believed the Herberts were “the only descendants of the original Norfolk Islanders” still to own their property, 153 years after its occupation.

Anjanette Murray on 25th November, 2013 wrote:

Married Deborah Ellam, 2 April 1788

Anjanette Murray on 25th November, 2013 wrote:

Married to Deborah Ellam (Prince of Wales).  after Ellam’s death, Herbert remarried at St John’s, Parramatta, this time to Ann Dudley, a convict, aged 28 years, arriving on Friendship on 13 January 1818.
The 1828 Census has John Herbert owning 70 acres but living in Campbell Street, Parramatta, next to the Parsonage. He described himself as a “dealer.” Herbert died on 1 April 1832, aged 72 years, and was buried with his first wife.

Denis Pember on 8th February, 2017 wrote:

John Herbert, together with Stephen Davenport, Robert Ellwood and John Small, was charged on the l4 March 1785 at the Devon Lent Assizes held at Exeter Castle with “feloniously assaulting James Burt in the Kings Highway feloniously putting him in Corporal fear and danger of his life in the said highway and feloniously and violently stealing and taking from his Person and agt his will in the said highway one metal watch and Tortoise-shell case v 30s one pruning Knife val 6d and 5s his Goods”. His initial sentence of death by hanging was later commuted to seven years transportation. He was 25 years old. After conviction, Herbert remained in Exeter High Jail until 30 January 1786 when he was transferred to the prison hulk Dunkirk in Plymouth before eventually sailing on the ship Charlotte. While on Dunkirk it is recorded that he was “troublesome at times.”
(Partly from Mollie Gillen “The Founders of Australia” page 172)

Denis Pember on 8th February, 2017 wrote:

John married Deborah Ellam/Elias, (First Fleet Convict, 1788, “Prince of Wales”).  They married April 2nd 1788 at Sydney Cove.  Over the next seventeen years, the couple had 8 children.
These were:- Benjamin, William, Joseph, Charles, John, Thomas, Susannah and James.
After Deborah died in 1819, John married again, to Ann Dudley (Convict, 1818, “Friendship”) and they had 1 son, Henry.

Denis Pember on 8th February, 2017 wrote:

1828 Census of New South Wales as recorded by Malcolm Sainty and Keith Johnson:
Page 188…
[Ref 1496] Herbert, John, 85, FS, Charlotte, 1796, 7, Dealer, Parramatta,
[Ref 1497] Herbert, Ann, 42, FS, Friendship, 1816, 7.
[Ref 1498] Herbert, James, 21, BC.
[Ref 1499] Herbert, Henry, 9, BC.
# Unsure about the age entry, clearly John was actually 68 years old.  Also the Charlotte was in the First Fleet 1788, so why 1796?

And also on the same page some of the family …
[Ref 1523] Herbert, Joseph, 33, BC, Carter at Parramatta.
[Ref 1524] Herbert, Susannah, 8, BC.
# Joseph with his daughter, no sign of his wife Sarah (nèe Hicks).  Sarah must have been away, because the couple had 7 children up to about 1845.  Sarah was the daughter of Richard Hicks (Convict, 1801, “Canada”) and Margaret Howe (Convict, 1804, “Experiment”).

[Ref H1518] Herbert, John, 30, BC, farmer at Evan.

[Ref H1519] Herbert, Charles, 30, BC, farmer at Evan.
[Ref H1520] Herbert, Mary, 32, BC.
[Ref H1521] Herbert, William, 16, BC.
[Ref H1522] Herbert, Stephen, 13, BC.
# Charles married Mary Smith (no details known) at a very young age. They were both teenagers.

No sign in the census at all of either Benjamin or William, although they were now farming at Prospect on properties based on their father’s original land grant.
Benjamin had married Esther Sadler (Convict, 1817. “Lord Melville”) in 1818.
William had married Elizabeth Durant (Convict, 1811, “Admiral Gambier”) in 1812

The daughter Susannah is recorded with her husband on page 329…
[Ref S0072] Sanders, Anthony, 40, FS, Hadlow, 1818, 7, Shoemaker for John Wood, Bringley.
[Ref S0073] Sanders, Susannah, 23, BC.
# Susannah had married the convict Anthony Sanders in 1821.

Robert John Herbert on 13th April, 2017 wrote:

The John Herbert who married Deborah Ellam on the 2 February 1788 came on the First Fleet transport Charlotte not on the Scarborough. The information under the name Lesley Forbes appears to relate to the John Herbert who came on the Firts Fleet transport Scarborough and was sent to Norfolk Island and eventually went to Tasmania.

The John Herbert who came on the Charlotte in the First Fleet stayed in NSW. He was granted 70 acres at the foot of Prospect Hill, south-west of Parramatta (Grant No70) where he and his wife Deborah Ellam (First Fleet transport Prince of Wales) raised 7 chidren, 6 boys and a girl. In 1806 John purchased 80 acres on the Nepean River at Castlereagh, NSW which he had leased in 1803. This land was divided equally among his 5 youngest sons as they became old enough to work the land on thier own. John’s and Deborah’s eldest son, Benjamin, remained on the Prospect Grant which in the official records was called Herbert Farm but which John called “Pender”. After Deborah’s death in 1819 John married again and established a store in Campbell Street Parramatta where he operated as a “Dealer”. He and his second wife, Ann Dudley, produced a son Henry John. After John’s death in 1832 the Parramatta store was left to Ann Dudley, the cart, harness and two horses used to transport goods were left to his son Henry John and the Prospect farm was left in equal parts to His 7 children with Deborah Ellam.

Convict Changes History

Gail Sutton on 5th November, 2013 made the following changes:

voyage, crime

Anjanette Murray on 25th November, 2013 made the following changes:

convicted at, source, date of death 1st April, 1832, gender, occupation

Denis Pember on 8th February, 2017 made the following changes:

date of birth: 9th February, 1760 (prev. 0000)

Robert John Herbert on 25th January, 2018 made the following changes:

date of birth: 0000 (prev. 9th February, 1760), occupation

George on 26th June, 2019 made the following changes:

source: http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/johnherbert_deborahellam.html https://stjohnscemeteryproject.org/name/john-herbert/ Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 1 (prev. http://www.fell

George on 26th June, 2019 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1760 (prev. 0000)

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au