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John Smith

John Smith, one of 170 convicts transported on the Neptune, December 1817

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Smith
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: -
Occupation: Farrier
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Pickpocket
Convicted at: London Gaol Delivery
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Neptune
Departure date: December, 1817
Arrival date: 5th May, 1818
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 168 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 415 (209)
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

Maureen Withey on 21st December, 2019 wrote:

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (http://www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 21 December 2019), October 1817, trial of JAMES BARTON WILLIAM CHAPMAN JOHN SMITH (t18171029-46).
JAMES BARTON, WILLIAM CHAPMAN, JOHN SMITH, Theft > pocketpicking, 29th October 1817.

1478. JAMES BARTON , WILLIAM CHAPMAN and JOHN SMITH were indicted for stealing, on the 11th of October , one handkerchief, value 3s., the goods of a certain person unknown, from his person .

WILLIAM MARCHANT. I am an officer. On the 11th of October, between one and two o’clock in the afternoon, I saw the three prisoners coming down Newgate-street ; they noticed several gentlemens’ pockets as they passed; I followed them into Cheapside, they crossed and went down the right hand of St. Paul’s Church-yard; they came back again and crossed to the same spot where I first saw them in Cheapside; they followed very close after a gentleman - I saw Chapman take the handkerchief out of the gentleman’s pocket - I laid hold of him and Barton, I pushed them down an entry and fell on them; I took them to a house, searched them, and found the handkerchief upon Chapman; I handcuffed them and brought them out. I had not got many yards before I heard a voice say, “who are you looking at? have you never seen two men before;” I turned round and saw Smith, and took him. I could not find the gentleman-the handkerchief was marked, C.P.

CHAPMAN’S Defence. It is my handkerchief.

WILLIAM MARCHANT, re-examined. The magistrate asked him if there was any mark on it-he said none.

BARTON - GUILTY . Aged 21.


SMITH - GUILTY . Aged 21.

London Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

The original document shows that all three were transported for life.

John Smith received a Colonial sentence and was sent to Moreton Bay penal establishment.

Moreton Bay Convict Records:
John Smith, Neptune 2, London G.D. 29 Oct 1817, life. Trade- farrier.  Colonial sentence, Gen Sess. Sydney, 7 Apr 1829, sentence 3 years, for stealing corn. Run. Absconded per “Caledonia” 16 Dec 1831.

Our readers are aware that the schooner Caledonia, from this port, was captured in December last, by prisoners at Moreton Bay, and had not been heard of for a considerable length of time. The vessel was carried to the Navigator’s Islands, where the commander, Mr. Browning, succeeded in effecting his escape from the pirates, and has arrived at Sydney by the American whaler Milo ; The following is Mr. B.‘s narrative of the piracy :— The schooner Caledonia of Sydney, on a voyage to Loo Island, for the purpose of procuring what was saved of the wreck of the ship America, purchased by the owner of the Caledonia, had occasion to put into Moreton Bay. About 36 hours after, at night, the schooner was boarded by 11 armed men, who immediately took possession of her, obliging the master to deliver up the whole of the arms he had on board, consisting of two muskets and two pistols. The master and part of the crew were then called on deck, and compelled to assist in getting the vessel under weigh ; after which the whole of the crew, with the exception of the master, were sent on shore in the pilot-boat, in which the pirates had come off. So well did the fellows lay their plans, that the watch on deck did not suspect anything till they were in the act of jumping on board. The crew, when they got ashore, of course gave the alarm, and two boats immediately put off in chase of the schooner, but were unable to come up with her. The master, having made several vain attempts to leave the vessel with the rest of the crew, was obliged to assist in navigating her, under a threat of having his brains blown out in case of a refusal.  Accordingly, under the direction of the pirates, he shaped his course for the Island of Rotumah, they assuring him that he should sustain no injury if he did not deceive them, but that upon the least appearance on his part of an attempt to betray them, he should instantly suffer death. The duties of first and second mate were discharged by two of the pirates, named Evans and Hastings. About a week after leaving Moreton Bay, the master was ordered by these two men and another named William Smith, to go aft and take the helm, when a man called John McDonald, one of the pirates, was called up, and immediately shot through the head by Evans. Another of the party, named William Vaughan, was then called up, fired at, and wounded by Hastings, and was then, after considerable struggling on his part, thrown overboard by the three principal actors in this bloody scene — namely Smith, Evans, and Hastings. Another of the party, named Connor, was next called up, and compelled to jump overboard ; and a man named John Smith, who was intended to share the same fate, was only spared after the most earnest entreaty.  Nothing particular occurred after this until the vessel made New Caledonia, for the purpose of procuring water. There she put into Port St. Vincent, and filled up the casks. The day before she again put to sea, Evans and Smith quarrelled with Hastings about some grog, in consequence of which, it was agreed that Hastings should be left behind, and he was accordingly put onshore. The vessel, in due course, made Rotumah, one of the New Hebrides; nothing particular happening in the mean time, except a repetition by Evans of the threat that the master should suffer instant death if he showed the least sign of an intention to betray them. At Rotumah a friendly chief, named Emery, came on board, but Mr. Browning was so narrowly watched, that it was impossible to communicate to him the circumstances under which he was placed. One of the party, called Harry, ran from the boat, and remained at Rotumah. After taking in two casks of water, the master was directed to make for Wallis’s Island, where he was told it was the intention of the pirates to land in the whale boat, and send him back in the vessel, together with, three Rotumah women, who had accompanied the party from that island : he was, however, subsequently informed by three of the men, that it was the intention of Evans to scuttle the schooner with him and the women on board. Two of the party, named Watson and Hogg, who, with John Smith, had behaved kindly to the master, declared to him their suspicions that it was the intention of Evans and others on board, to shoot them. The vessel missed Wallis’s Island, but made Footona, where some pigs and fruit were procured from the natives. On the 29th of Feb. she made Davi, where John Smith was landed, together with the three Rotumah women. Watson and Hogg also, acting under the dread of personal violence from Evans and the rest, got into a canoe, went on shore, and remained behind : the master, however, was still so closely watched, that an attempt at escape was impossible. The vessel then stood out to sea. Evans told the master that she was to be scuttled, and he expected nothing else but to go to the bottom with her.  When about 15 miles off the land, however, the master was called by the pirates to assist in packing up some things to put into the boat; and about 12 o’clock on the following day the vessel was scuttled, and the whole party got into the boat, and stood in for Toofoa, where Mr. Browning, and a man named Thomas Massey were taken by one chief, and Evans and Smith by another. The day after landing on this island, the other three men came down with a body of natives, and took away the boat. They also told Mr. Browning that he was in danger of his life, and wished him to go with them; but, being in possession of a musket, he declined doing so, expressing his intention, at the same time, to leave the island by the first vessel that touched there. After Mr. Browning had been on the island for eight days the barque Oldham came into the offing, and he went on board in a canoe.  He there learnt that a report prevailed of the Caledonia having foundered at sea. Mr. Browning was asked on board the Oldham, who was the master of the Caledonia. He, of course, stated that he was ; but upon the chief officer and some of the crew proceeding on shore, the pirate, Evans, told them he was the master. A suspicion, in consequence, arose, and an enquiry having been made among the natives, by means of an interpreter, Evans was immediately secured and put in irons. The other three men could not be discovered, being, doubtless, concealed by the natives ; but the boat which they took away was found at the place to which Mr. Browning learnt it had been taken. Such is this gentleman’s narrative of as an atrocious an act of piracy, accompanied by deliberate murder, as is to be found upon record. It is to be hoped that the remainder of the wretches who were engaged in it will yet be discovered by vessels trading among those islands pointed out by Mr. Browning.
Sydney Gazette, 17 May 1832.


Convict Changes History

Maureen Withey on 21st December, 2019 made the following changes:

gender: m, occupation, crime

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