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John Shaw Strange

John Shaw Strange, one of 190 convicts transported on the Guilford [Guildford], 12 May 1820

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Shaw Strange
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

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

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 59 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: High treason
Convicted at: Middlesex Gaol Delivery
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Guildford
Departure date: 12th May, 1820
Arrival date*: 12th January, 1821
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 183 other convicts
* Arrival date is estimated


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/3, Page Number 309 (156)
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

Kieran Hannon on 23rd May, 2012 wrote:

This record is NOT correct re where John disembarked. John Shaw Strange was one of six prisoners taken off the ship Guildford when it arrived in Sydney. The ship carried 194 convicts [190 from Portsmouth, and 4 more it picked up at Smith’s Bay (British Naval Base in 1820, near Cape Town South Africa)]. The rest of the 188 convicts continued on to VDL. John was one of the respited Cato Street Conspirators who escaped being hung and beheaded on 1 May 1820 as he pleaded guilty to High Treason for his part in the Cato Street Conspiracy (an attempt to kill British Ministers including the Prime Minister on 23 Feb 1820). John threw himself on the mercy of the court which changed his sentence to transportation for life. He and the four other Cato Street Conspirators (Charles Cooper, James Wilson, Richard Bradburn and John Harrison) on the Guildford were immediately sent by boat to Newcastle Penal Settlement upon disembarking in Sydney. Another convict George Stewart was also taken off Guildford in Sydney. He was not a Cato Street Conspirator. He had a specialised skills (Copper plate engraver) which was required by John Oxley and taken to work for him in his Sydney office.

Maureen Withey on 17th July, 2019 wrote:

HIS EXCELLENCY the Governor has been pleased to approve of the following Alterations in the Police of the Colony, viz.
-Bathurst.-John Shaw Strange, per Guildford, and Michael Pearson, per Isabella to be Constables.
The Monitor, Sydney, Tues 12 Jun 1827

Maureen Withey on 17th February, 2020 wrote:

The five conspirators Guilty of High Treason numbered in this list, 98, 99, 100, 101, and 102, have been landed at Sydney under particular orders to be sent to Newcastle.


102 – John Shaw Strange. Middx, GD, 12 April 1820 – life,  age 26, native of Warwickshire, boot & shoe maker, 5ft 3 ½,hazel eyes, dark brown hair, fair complexion.  General remark – Very well behaved.  Note: Cato Street Conspirators. Landed at Sydney.

Colonial Secretary Index.

STRANGE, John Shaw. Per “Guildford”, 1820; Cato Street conspirator

1820 Oct 16 - Transported with four others for high treason. Re transfer of these conspirators, considered still designing and dangerous men, to Newcastle (Reel 6007; 4/3502 pp.346-7, 349-51)

1820 Oct 16 - On list of prisoners transported to Newcastle per “Elizabeth Henrietta” (Reel 6007; 4/3502 p.342)

1823 Jan 11 - Prisoner at Newcastle. Petition for mitigation of sentence (Fiche 3236; 4/1870 p.70)

1823 Nov 22 - Prisoner to be forwarded to Sydney from Newcastle (Reel 6011; 4/3509 p.600)

1824 Jan 5 - To be forwarded to Bathurst (Reel 6012; 4/3510 p.121)

1824 Mar 9 - Reported to be cohabiting with Elizabeth Hanks at the house of Peter Jackson in Philip Street. Petition of Joseph Johnson (Reel 6069; 4/1817 p.36)

1824 Apr 10 - On list of prisoners on establishment at Bathurst with sentences not transmitted (Reel 6028; 2/8283 p.102)

1825 Sep - Messenger & constable for Captain Fennell at Bathurst; had played a part in the capture of Weavers, Saddington, Williams, Clifford & other thieves. Petition for mitigation of sentence (Reel 6027; 4/1717.2 pp.234-7)

1825 Oct 25 - Instructions received re (Reel 6067; 4/1807 p.131)


By special license, at the residence of the Rev. C. Stewart, Hartley, Mr. James Leonard to Jane Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. John Shaw Strange, the only survivor of Cato Street notoriety.
Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 8 Oct 1853.


[ We do not identify ourselves with the opinions
of our correspondents.}
To the Editor of the Bathurst Free Press and
Mining Journal.
Sir, — In your last issue of the 24th December
I saw a narration by the Rev. R. W. Vanderkiste
relative to his labours in the Dens of London.
Amongst those labours he said he was sent for to
administer the Lord’s supper, to the then dying
Thomas Preston, the only survivor of tho Kato-
street Conspirators.
I beg leave to inform the rev. gentleman,
and those who heard and read his statement that
only a very few months ago (and I believe yet)
three of the Cato-street Conspirators were living
in this colony, namely James Wilson, Charles
Cowper, and myself, John Shaw Strange. The
rev. gentleman represents the late Preston as
having been a very wicked sinner. In duty to
the memory of Preston (his religious creed I
was not acquainted with), I assure his reverence,
and those who read his anecdote, that he was
considered by all who knew him, to be a strictly
honest man in all his dealings, sober, industrious,
a kind father and a faithful friend; possessing,
moreover, too powerful a mind to be duped en-
snared and sacrificed like myself and others, by
the notorious villain, Edward the Spy, and his
By giving this a place in your valuable journal
you will much oblige
Your obedient servant,
Fish River, Jan. 1, 1857.
Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 14 Jan 1857.

THE death of the last of the convicts concerned in the Cato-street conspiracy is thus reported in a Bathurst paper:-“An inquest was held at O’Connell, on the 14th January, before Dr. Busby, coroner, upon the body of John Shaw Strange, who about three years ago had a paralytic attack, from the effects of which he never fully recovered. About three weeks ago he took to his bed, and gradually sank till Saturday last, when he died. As no medical man had seen him during his last illness, it was doomed necessary to hold an inquest as to the cause of death. The verdict was, ‘Died from old age and natural causes.’ The deceased was one of the Cato-street conspirators, and was sent to this colony upwards of forty years ago for his participation in the conspiracy. So far as we can learn, Strange is the last of the conspirators, and died at the advanced age of seventy-eight years. During his residence in the colony he has been very industrious, and has borne a good character amongst his neighbours.”
The Argus, (Melbourne), 12 Feb 1868.

The following is the last part of an article published in 1946, which is about the Cato Street Conspiracy:
Strange, Wilson and Harris were transported to New South Wales. In his “Reminiscences of Thirty Years’ Residence In New South Wales and Victoria,” published in 1865, Robert Therry, judge of the Supreme Court, tells us that these three men lived in the Bathurst District.  Strange, who was only a minor participant in the plot, and rather weak-minded, was chief constable of the district, He had obtained a ticket of leave soon after his arrival for capturing a ferocious bushranger named Robert Story. As chief constable he proved a tower of strength to the peaceable section of the community and a source of terror to evil doers, who fled incontinently from the “Cato-street Chief,” as he was called. He produced a large family, all prosperous and well respected.  Wilson also served as a constable for some years, and was noted for his bravery and devotion to duty, Harrison set himself up as a baker.
If the Cato-street Conspiracy had achieved its object, England would have lost Liverpool, Castlereagh, Wellington, Canning, Eldon, Bathurst, Harrowby and many other statesmen of brilliant talents. But far more disastrous would have been the revulsion of public sympathy from the movement for Parliamentary reform.
The whole history of democracy might well have been changed.
The Age, (Melbourne) 17 Aug 1946.

Convict Changes History

Kieran Hannon on 23rd May, 2012 made the following changes:

gender m

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