Born in England circa 1769—Died in the
John Bennett was convicted at Shrewsbury,
Salop, for highway robbery (“stealing goods”) on 18
March 1786 and sentenced to transportation for seven
years. His name appears on official records, but the
contractor’s failure to include it in what was actually
a very deficient list both in spelling of names and of
people listed who did not embark has caused much
unnecessary conjecture among historians. Aged 17, he was
sent to the Dunkirk hulk, where he behaved “remarkably
well”, before discharged to “Friendship” on 11 March
1787; Ralph Clark said he was aged 19 with no trade.
Bennett’s behavior deteriorated on the
voyage. On 28 May, Ralph Clark recorded “flog this day”
John Bennett, a convict, with 37 lashes for breaking out
of irons, a young man but an old rogue. In mid November,
Clark was again pessimistic about Bennett after he had
been found asleep in the longboat, having stolen some of
the other convicts’ provisions. “Mark my words that we
will not have been at Botany above six months before
this young Villain…comes to the Gallows”.
At Sydney Cove, Bennett was flogged for
theft on 15 February 1788, and on 2 May he justified
Clark’s comment. John Bennett was hanged for another
theft, admitting that young as he was, he had been an
The life of John Bennett ended 2 May
Oh, to be back in England
To witness the wind-song from the sea.
Oh, it was in my newfound land,
my heart stood still for eternity.
My soul shall thirst no-more.
Founders of Australia,
Verse: J. Mortimer # 6409.