Main Story - John Martin

Born to slavery, being owned, John Martin was to die a free man with a home and farm of his own. His journey would not be easy, but perhaps he would have considered it worth it in the end.

It is thought that John was one of the runaway slaves who joined the British Lord Dunmore’s “Ethopian Regiment” during the American Revolution of 1775. [1] Defecting slaves were welcomed enthusiastically by the British. This was a big decision in the young black man’s life as there were dire consequences if a runaway slave was caught. In November 1783, when George Washington finally claimed the United States, no one knew how many fugitive slaves had left; it was thought to be over 3,000. John Martin was one of the 3,000 and heading for England and a better life. Or so he thought.

London was the greatest city in the world in 1783 [1] and also the most odoriferous. There was untreated human waste, rotting rubbish, slaughterhouses and tanneries as well as air polluted with coal dust. Dead animals were left to decompose on the streets. This and the noise of 750,000 people would have greeted John when he arrived from America. John would have been over-awed by the labyrinth of narrow streets and lanes, the wagons, coaches and the amount of people going about their business. Unfortunately with no documentation John, along with his fellow Negroes, seems to have received no compensation for their part in the war, and within a year or so most were out of work and living by their wits on the streets of London. [1]

The first we hear of John in the records is in May 1782, he has stolen a bundle of clothes from John Turnbull’s house on the 18th. On the 3 July he was brought before Mr Justice Buller and tried by the First Middlesex Jury at the Old Bailey. Verdict – guilty. Sentence – transportation to Africa. [2]

The Old Bailey by Thomas Rowlandson

The Old Bailey by Thomas Rowlandson

John spent four months in Newgate Prison before being transferred to the ship Den Keyser in late October that same year, bound for Africa. Diagnosed with goal fever (typhus) he was taken from the ship and returned to Newgate not long before the Den Keyser set sail. [3][4]

John got to know Newgate well. He was there until April 1785 when he was transferred to the hulk Ceres, moored at Woolwich, on the Thames. [1]  He was now required to work onshore during the day. [4]

Two years later the transport issue was solved and a fleet of ships were heading to Botany Bay. John Martin was transferred to the Alexander  on 6 January 1787 – he was four and half years into his seven year sentence. [1][4]

On 13 May 1787 what was to be known as the first fleet, set sail.

18 January 1788 the Alexander arrived safely at Botany Bay. John now only had 18 months left to serve. [5]

Embarkation list 1787, TNA

Embarkation list 1787, TNA

That first winter John, along with his housemates, William Davis and John Parker, were charged with lighting a fire in their hut contrary to orders. They each received 25 lashes on 30 August 1788. [3][6]

On 3 July the year after his arrival John was technically a free man, but none of the convict’s documentation sailed with them. They would have to wait for it to arrive. Fellow convict John Calleghan could not wait, and so petitioned the judge advocate on behalf of himself and five other expirees (including John Martin). He received 600 lashes and nine months forced labour in chains for his trouble. John Martin, understandably, decided to wait for the documentation to arrive. Which they eventually did, but not until the Third Fleet arrived on 9 July 1791 – two years after his sentence expired. John would have received a land grant as well as two pigs, a hatchet, tomahawk, two spades and a shovel upon his freedom. This was provided to all start up settlers in the colony. [4]

Marriage to Ann Toy, St Johns Paramatta Marriages

Marriage to Ann Toy, St Johns Paramatta Marriages
John married fellow convict Ann Toy, who had arrived on the ill-fated Neptune in the Second Fleet. They were married on 26 August 1792 at Parramatta. [7][1] November that same year John took up a land grand of 50 acres at the Northern Boundary Farms.[6] Males were granted 30 acres and if married, a further 20 acres.

 

Location of John's land

Location of John's land

Three years on, in 1795, John was described as ‘a sober industrious man, yet very poor,’ he was one of the few still working the land in that area. [8] Seven years later he still farmed the same land and had nearly nine acres in wheat and six ready for maize.

The year 1806 had its ups and downs. In February his wife Ann died, childless. [3][6] He was able to employ a convict and a free man on his farm on which he now had 27 acres in grain, 20 for pasture, one as a garden and the remaining two were fallow. He also had two sheep and 12 hogs. [1][3]

 

The following year he was living with 14 year old Mary Randall - daughter of fellow First Fleet Negro John Randall. Their son, John, was born in November. Two years later daughter Sophia was born on 30 December 1809. [9]

Soon after his arrival John was appointed a constable of the Northern Boundary, a position he held until 1826. [10][11]

Mary Randall and John were finally officially married at St Johns Church, Parramatta in 1812, on the 20 July, by Samuel Marsden. The official records show John is literate as he has signed his own name, Mary, on the other hand, is not as she has put her mark – an X. [12]

Marriage to Mary Randall, St Johns Paramatta Marriages

Marriage to Mary Randall, St Johns Paramatta Marriages
Not only was John a farmer and a constable, he was also the pound keeper at Northern Boundary. Articles found in the Sydney Gazette over an 11 year period indicate he was pound keeper from 1814 to 1824. [13][14][15][16][17]

John’s land must be finally becoming viable as in 1817 he sells meat to the Government. [18] This must be a huge relief to him and his small family.

From newspaper articles is appears John has to re-apply for this constable position on a regular basis. [19] In 1825 John Harris, surgeon and magistrate, recommends him to be a Parramatta constable. [20] John is successful with his application. Unfortunately, he is dismissed the following year [11] for misconduct and arrested for violent assault and trespass. [21] It appears he has mistreated his apprentice. A disappointing way to end his 27 year career as a constable. He didn’t leave empty handed, his service entitled him to receive a constable pension of £27.7s.6d. [22][23] He still has his 50 acres, of which 40 are cleared, 15 of those in cultivation. He also has three horses and 20 sheep, and one convict labourer. [6]

No more is heard of John until December 1837 when he makes out his will [4][9] just days before his death at Field of Mars. [24] He was buried at St John’s Church, Parramatta on 22 December 1937. [25] He has no headstone but a First Fleet memorial plaque is attached to wife Mary’s headstone. [4]

St John's Parramatta Burials

St John's Parramatta Burials

 

 

His wife Mary survived him by 20 years.

She died on 27 September 1857, aged 64 years. [26]

 

 

 

John is remembered as “an old and faithful constable” in The Sydney Morning Herald, on 31 August 1850. [27]

 

 

Image Credits

[1] A  "Over London by Rail Gustave Doré C 1870. From London: A Pilgrimage." Wikipedia. Accessed June 12, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Doré#/media/File:Dore_London.jpg.

[1] B  "Time Travel | A Journey through Time." Sheffield General Cemetery Trust. March 19, 2016. Accessed June 12, 2016. http://gencem.org/timeline-2/.

[1] C  "St Giles Rookery." St GilesintheFields. March 18, 2013. Accessed June 12, 2016. https://stgilesonline.org/history/st-giles-rookery/.

[2]  "Old Bailey Microcosm Edited.jpg." Wikimedia Commons. February 11, 2006. Accessed June 13, 2016. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Bailey_Microcosm_edited.jpg.

[3] A  "Convict Tales: Small Stories and Big Data." The Digital Panopticon. June 2015. Accessed June 12, 2016. http://www.digitalpanopticon.org/?m=201506.

[3] B  "Woolwich Dockyard." Wikiwand. Accessed June 12, 2016. http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Woolwich_Dockyard.

[3] C  "Convicts from the Hulk Justitia at Work in Woolwich." Port Cities London. Accessed June 12, 2016. http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/conMediaFile.679/Convicts-from-the-hulk-Justitia-at-work-in-Woolwich.html.

[4]  Pybus, Cassandra. Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia's First Black Settlers. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2006.

[5]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Piece 7: The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 8 May 2016.

[6]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Marriages, 1790-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Parish Marriage Registers textual records. St John’s Anglican Church Parramatta New South Wales, Australia; Reference Number: REG/COMP/1; Description: Vol 01, Baptisms, 1790-1825; Marriages, 1789-1823; Burials, 1790-1825; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 17 May 2016

[7]  Randall/Martin Land Grants of 1792 at Parramatta. Accessed May 10, 2016. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~johnrandall2/grant1792.htm.

[8]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Piece 1/2: The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 8 May 2016

[9]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Marriages, 1790-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: New South Wales St John’s Parramatta Marriages 1790-1966: Reference Number: REG/COMP/1; Description: Vol 01, Baptisms, 1790-1825; Marriages, 1789-1823; Burials, 1790-1825; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 7 June 2016

[10] A  Government and General Orders. (1820, May 20). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2179470

[10] B  Advertisements. (1816, March 15). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p2. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2176838

[10] C  Advertisements. (1817, October 12). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p4. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2177124

[10] D  Advertisements. (1824, September 2). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p4. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2183171

[11]  Advertisements. (1817, June 14) The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2177266

[12]  Advertisements. (1817, June 14) The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2177266

[13] A  Government Notice. (1826, May 3). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/ article2185760

[13] B  Police Reports. (1826, August 16). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p3. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/article2186365

[14]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 17 May 2016.

[15]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Burials, 1790-1986 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Parish Burial Registers, textual records, St John’s Anglican Church Parramatta New South Wales Australia. Reference Number: REG/COMP/3 Description: Vol 03, Baptisms, 1834-1838; Mariges, 1834-1838; Burials, 1834-1838: St John’s Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 8 May 2016.

[16]  Cameron, Michaela Ann. "John Martin (c.1757-1837)." St Johns Cemetery Project. 2016. Accessed May 10, 2016. https://stjohnscemeteryproject.com/bio/john-martin/.

References

[1]  Pybus, Cassandra. Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia's First Black Settlers. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2006.

[2]  "The Proceedings of the Old Bailey." John Martin. 2015. Accessed May 10, 2016. http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17820703-5-defend93.

[3]  "John Martin : John Randall." First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc. December 30, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2016. http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/convicts/john-martin-john-randall/.

[4]  Cameron, Michaela Ann. "John Martin (c.1757-1837)." St Johns Cemetery Project. 2016. Accessed May 10, 2016. https://stjohnscemeteryproject.com/bio/john-martin/.

[5]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Piece 7: The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 8 May 2016.

[6]  Gillen, Mollie, Yvonne Browning, and Michael Flynn. The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet. Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989.

[7]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Marriages, 1790-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Parish Marriage Registers textual records. St John’s Anglican Church Parramatta New South Wales, Australia; Reference Number: REG/COMP/1; Description: Vol 01, Baptisms, 1790-1825; Marriages, 1789-1823; Burials, 1790-1825; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 17 May 2016

[8]  Christopher, Emma. A Merciless Place: The Fate of Britain's Convicts after the American Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

[9]  "John Martin." First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc. July 29, 2015. Accessed May 10, 2016. http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/convicts/john-martin/.

[10]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Piece 1/2: The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 8 May 2016

[11]  Government Notice. (1826, May 3). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/ article2185760

[12]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Marriages, 1790-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: New South Wales St John’s Parramatta Marriages 1790-1966: Reference Number: REG/COMP/1; Description: Vol 01, Baptisms, 1790-1825; Marriages, 1789-1823; Burials, 1790-1825; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 7 June 2016

[13]  Government and General Orders. (1820, May 20). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2179470

[14]  Government and General Orders. (1825, December 29). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2184950

[15]  Advertisements. (1816, March 15). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p2. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2176838

[16]  Advertisements. (1817, October 12). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p4. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2177124

[17]  Advertisements. (1824, September 2). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p4. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2183171

[18]  Advertisements. (1817, June 14) The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p1. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2177266

[19]  Government and General Orders. (1825, December 29). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/article2184950

[20]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretarial Papers, 1788-1856 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: New South Wales Government. Main series of letters received, 1788-1825, Series 897 Reels 6041-6064,6071-6072. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. Retrieved 8 June 2016.

[21]  Police Reports. (1826, August 16). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 - 1842), p3. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/article2186365

[22]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia Census (TNA copy) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Piece 24: The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 8 May 2016.

[23]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 17 May 2016.

[24]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Kew Surrey England. Retrieved 17 May 2016.

[25]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Burials, 1790-1986 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Parish Burial Registers, textual records, St John’s Anglican Church Parramatta New South Wales Australia. Reference Number: REG/COMP/3 Description: Vol 03, Baptisms, 1834-1838; Mariges, 1834-1838; Burials, 1834-1838: St John’s Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 8 May 2016.

[26]  Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, St. John's Parramatta, Burials, 1790-1986 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: New South Wales St John’s Parramatta Burials 1790-1986. Reference Number: REG/BUR/4; Description: Vol 04, 1839-1889; Parish: St. John's Anglican Church Parramatta. Retrieved 7 June 2016.

[27]  1850, August 31. Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954), p6. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12920709