FF JOHN HARRIS Convict ‘Scarborough’ (1759–????)

And FF MARY GREEN Convict ‘Prince of Wales’ (Unknown)


John Harris was a labourer of St Marylebone, London, born in 1759.


JOHN HARRIS was indicted for feloniously stealing on the 30th of December last, eight silver table spoons, value 3£. the goods of Peter Livies, Esq who was Chief Justice of Quebec (and was living in London as an absentee official after conflict with Sir Guy Carleton); in his dwelling house. (The witnesses examined apart at the desire of the prisoner.) He was tried at the Old Bailey on 15th January 1783


WILLIAM SELEODER sworn. I am servant to Mr. Livies; on the 30th of December, my master lost eight silver table spoon , value 3£. they were in the back parlour; the green grocer came with some potatoes, and told me, there was a basket that had been left a few days before; I went down stairs with the potatoes, to bring up the basket, but I did not see any; I ran upstairs again, and I saw the prisoner at the bar running along the passage, and putting his hand under his coat-like; with that I got the glimpse of silver; so I thought he had been about no good, as he had no business in the house; I left the green grocer at the door when I went down stairs, but he was gone to the opposite side; I cried out, Stop thief! and ran as hard as I could; and I heard something fall; I instantly came up to it, and found eight table spoons, my master's property; I left the green grocer in pursuit of the man; he took him, and I carried the spoons home, and took the prisoner to a justice: I am sure of the man; there was nobody between him and me: I did not see him drop the spoons, but I heard them drop. Prisoner's Council. You gave evidence before the justice, I believe? - Yes. Did you or not there say, that you saw anything like silver about him? - Yes, I did. Or did you say, that you apprehended you saw something white about his coat? I said something of the glimpse of silver. You did not see him dispossess himself of anything? - No, I did not. What did you do with these spoons that were found? - I carried them home directly. Where did you put them? - In the room they were taken from. You did not carry them that day to the justices? - No. Were you asked for them? - I was. What account did you give? - That I could not be positive to them all, but to one I could, it was more battered than the rest. (The spoon produced and deposed to.)


WILLIAM BIGGS sworn. I am a green grocer; I saw the prisoner run out of the house, and the last witness came out after him; I pursued the prisoner and took him; I did not see the spoons dropped; I saw them lay on the ground, and the last witness pick them up.

RUSSEL sworn. Did you see the two last witnesses in pursuit of the prisoner? - Yes, I was standing on Monday the 29th of last month, at my mistress's door in Portland-street, taking some things from a mantua maker; I saw the prisoner come round; and there being a cry of Stop thief! he made a bit of a stop, and threw something down; I saw it white in the end; the first witness was just at the corner, and he put his hand on the rails, to keep himself from falling; I saw the prisoner part with something from his hands; there was no other person between the prisoner and the servant; he took them up in the very same spot, in less than half a minute, and then I saw that they were spoons: I did not see that they were spoons, when the man dropped them.

Prisoner's Council. Nor what it was that he put down, you could not tell at that time? - No, only that it appeared white.


PRISONER's DEFENCE. I was walking along up Portland-street, by the chapel; I heard a cry of, Stop thief! I walked, not ran; but walked on, and I was stopped by two men, neither of them were these gentlemen; one said to the other, this is not the man; and they asked my pardon, and quitted me; I walked on very easy; then these gentlemen came up, and said, they should stop me; and I was brought before a magistrate; but neither of these men stopped me; but the men that stopped me, acquitted me, because several people said, I was not the person.


GUILTY, (Death.) Tried by the second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Ashurst.


John, a wax chandler, was sentenced to Death at the Old Bailey on 15th January 1783.Harris, with a wife and two small children, petitioned for mercy ON 28th January 1783, supported by two petitions from Livies himself, who felt there had  been too rigorous a sentence (‘there had been no Violence in the Case’) and that his own steward in his absence had prosecuted Harris ‘with a great severity’


On the 12th September the sentence was reduced to transportation to America for 14 years

John was sent to a Thames hulk on 14th October 1783 and thence to the Mercury transport on 26th March 1784. Following the Mercury mutiny he escaped to Exeter, Devon, where he took a coach to London. He was rearrested at the Hammersmith turnpike, with John claiming that ‘he had been forced ashore and was on the way to surrender’

At his retrial at the Old Bailey on 26th May 1784 the court ordered a letter to be sent to the captain of the Mercury to confirm John’s story.

JOHN HARRIS was indicted for feloniously returning from transportation, and being found at large within this kingdom on the 17th of April last, without any lawful cause, and before the expiration of the term for which he was transported .

Prisoner. I was obliged to come on shore, and were the captain and the people here they would say so; it was from the last ship. I was taken off the coach box of the Exeter coach; I was coming to surrender myself to the Justice, in hopes of finding mercy; when I was taken they found nothing on me: my Lord, I plead guilty.

Court. If this man was not active I would report him accordingly; let a letter be written to the Captain, who is now at Exeter, to enquire into his behaviour.

Court to Prisoner. I will take your plea, and enquire into the circumstances of your case before I report you to the King.

GUILTY, Death .Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Recorder

At the end of the sessions which began on 26th February, his sentence was remitted to transportation to Africa for life.

On 3rd March 1785 John was sent to the ‘Caesar’ (Ceres) hulk, his age given as 25 on the 5th April1785.

He was sent to Portsmouth on 24th February 1787 for embarkation on the Scarborough transport.


John had been identified as one of 14 Jews transported on the First Fleet.

The other 13 were:

Ester Abrahams, (Convict Lady Penrhyn), Esther Abrahams (Convict’s Child Lady Penrhyn) Henry Abrahams (Convict Alexander), Aaron Davis (Convict Alexander), Daniel Daniels (Convict Scarborough), Frances Hart (Convict Charlotte), John Hart (Convict Scarborough), Davis Jacobs (Convict Scarborough), Thomas Josephs (Convict Scarborough) Flora Larah (Convict Prince of Wales), Amelia Levy (Convict Lady Penrhyn), Joseph Levy (Convict Scarborough), and Peter Opley (Convict Alexander


At Port Jackson, John proposed to Judge-Advocate David Collins to establish a night watch, 'to be selected among the convicts for the purpose to stem the frequent commission of offences in the settlement'. This was agreed to. The first attempt at a police force in the settlement began on 8 August 1789, with Harris as one of its principal members. They had the authority to secure all persons of that description who should be found straggling from the huts at improper hours.

The regulations for the watch were drawn up and were signed by Phillip and Collins-they read ‘The following regulations to be observed by the night-watch appointed for more effectual preservation of public and private property, and for preventing or detecting the commission of nightly depredations’

On Sunday 15th August 1789 at the trial of Hannah Pugh nee Smith (Convict Lady Penrhyn) John, confirmed is Jewish faith by insisting that he ‘sworn on the Old Testament’when he gave evidence. Hannah was charged with having nine worsted caps in her possession. Following John’s evidence the prisoner was discharged.

Captain Collins and Captain sat as magistrates on Saturday 24th October 1789. Edward Goodwin/Goddin (Convict Scarborough) and John Pettit (Convict Scarborough) were accused of being up at 2 o’clock in the morning playing cards on Friday 23td October. Charles Peat (Convict Scarborough), John Harris, Herbert Keeling (Convict Scarborough) of the Night Watch and the prisoners gave evidence. Goodwin/Goddin and Pettit were found guilty and sentenced ‘to receive fifty lashes, each, only on Account it being a first offence’

On Saturday 5th December 1789, the Judge Advocate and Captain Hunter sat as magistrates on Samuel Chinery (Convict Charlotte) who was charged with stealing two pounds of flour from John Hall (Convict Charlotte). Evidence was given from John Hall, John Harris, John Jeffries (Convict Alexander), Edward Goodwin/Goodin (Convict Scarborough), William Saltmarsh Convict Alexander) and also the accused. Chinery was acquitted.

On 7th January 1790 John was sent to Norfolk Island on HM Brig Supply with Mary Green (Convict Prince of Wales) also on board

On 1st July 1791 he was maintaining himself and two others - They were Mary Green (Convict Prince Of Wales) and their son John was born on 20th January 1790 – on a one acre lot in Sydney Town, of which 100 rods had been cleared, and 49 rods of timber felled.


MARY GREEN was indicted for stealing, on the 9th March 1787 last, one china tea-pot, with a cover, and a silver spout, value 5 s. six tea-cups and saucers, value 5 s. 6 d. the property of Hannah Corrack , widow , and Robert Corrack .

ROBERT CORRACK sworn. I am partner with my mother; I lost the things mentioned in the indictment, on Monday evening, the 9th of March last, about half after nine, I was up at tea with my mother; I only speak to the property.

- BROWN sworn.I am servant to the prosecutor; on Monday evening, the 9th of March last, I was standing at the door, and the prisoner came in, and asked for a penny bason; I went to the back part of the shop, to fetch a bason, and when I returned, I missed the china tea-pot, with a silver spout; I missed neither cups nor saucers; the prisoner paid me a penny for the bason, and went out; I rung for my master, and ran and caught the prisoner by the cloak; she asked me what she had done; she came back, and said she knew nothing of it; by the time I got to the door, my master came down stairs, and me and my master saw the prisoner shoot the property out of her apron on the counter; the things are my master's.

(Deposed to.)


PRISONER's DEFENCE. I went in to buy a bason, and the young man shoved me against the counter.

GUILTY: Sentenced to Transported for seven years on 18th April 1787 .Tried by the London Jury before Mr. ROSE.

On 30th April Mary was sent with a group of women convicts from Newgate by wagon to Portsmouth and embarked on the Prince of Wales on 3rd May 1787 just 10 days before sailing on 13th May 1787 to Botany Bay.


In December 1791 John was a member of the night watch at Grenville Vale, and throughout following years he sold grain and meat to Government Stores. . He was granted a further two acres (.8 ha), but deprived of them when Lieutenant John Townson (NSW Corp Scarborough 1790) and other officers chose the land for their leases


Disgusted by this treatment, Harris pressed Lieutenant-Governor Philip Gidley King for a pardon. This was granted by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose before Grose left on 6 December 1794 and after Harris had returned to Sydney in February 1796 it was confirmed by Governor John Hunter on King's recommendation 'in consideration of good services as Principal of the Nightwatch at Norfolk Island'.


On 7th September 1793 John was sworn as a constable at Norfolk Island, serving for the next few years. In June 1794 he was still with Mary Green and son John and employed a convict on his farm. He received his Conditional Pardon on 12th December 1794 and an Absolute Pardon in September 1796.


A daughter Elizabeth was born in 1795 on Norfolk Island. The family of John, Mary and children John and Elizabeth left Norfolk Island by Reliance on 20th February 1796.

On 1st January 1797 another daughter Susannah (called Hannah) was born, and she was christened on 25th January 1797


A lease of six and a half acres was received at Mulgrave Place on 1st January 1798, but by June 1798 John was recorded as a licensed victualler and appears to have move to Toongabbee to operate a tavern called the Cross Keys and soon became one of the trusted agents of John Macarthur in his trade.

A small lease of about four acres was obtained at Parramatta on 12th March 1800. But it was here after a disagreement with Governor King, who had asked Harris to return to the police force, but he declined, not wanting to abandon a lucrative trade which afforded him and his family a better living than a government appointment Soon afterwards King declared that he had acted against government regulations by buying rations from convicts with liquor. He was taken into custody by Samuel Marsden, and while he was detained the governor had one wall of his house torn down, his liquor casks staved open and his spirit licence withdrawn; later he deprived him of his land grant. Harris was never formally tried, and was soon released, but he estimated the value of the destroyed liquor at more than £400.

Deprived of his livelihood and afraid of King, he decided to leave the colony. In January 1801 John returned to England on "El Plumier" taking with him son John, on a vessel chartered by Dr Thomas Fyshe Palmer .When his sentence expired Palmer, Boston and Ellis had bought the decrepit Spanish prize El Plumier and, with William Reid, a former seaman of the Sirius, as captain, sailed from Sydney for England in January 1801


ThomasPalmer was equally distinguished in his zeal for political reform, and became closely identified with a Dundee group, 'The Friends of Liberty', who were fervently advocating this cause. When George Mealmaker, a Dundee weaver, wrote an 'Address to the People' on the subject of parliamentary reform, Palmer arranged for its printing and distribution. For this he was tried at Perth on 12 September 1793 on a charge of seditious practices, convicted, and sentenced to seven years transportation.

He arrived on the Surprize. which also carried his fellow Scottish Martyrs, Thomas Muir, William Skirving and Maurice Margarot. When in the tropics, Captain Campbell, master of the Surprize, acting on ill-founded charges of incitement to mutiny, confined Palmer and Skirving under conditions of extreme hardship, which were the subject of complaints laid before Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose on their arrival at Sydney on 25 October 1794. A narrative describing his sufferings was taken back to England by Surgeon John White and published in 1797. During his seven years of exile in Sydney Palmer was free from the usual convict restraint and engaged in various enterprises to supplement his private means

The ship called at New Zealand and Fever Islands but was damaged on a reef. However the ship managed to reach Guam where she was taken as a wartime prize. Palmer died there with Harris his son John and the other passengers being sent to Manilla as prisoners. Fortunately they were freed soon afterwards and Harris and his son reached England by means unknown in October 1803.


Next month, backed by Macarthur, Harris sought relief from the Colonial Office, but his memorial apparently remained unanswered and the ultimate fate of John Harris and his son John is not known.


Harris left Mary and his two daughters behind, claiming he wrote ‘as not being old enough to travel’. The two daughters were then taken into the care of his cousin James Larra (Convict Scarborough 2 1790), as they were then orphaned.

It is not sure what happened to Mary Green at that time, however a Mary Green died in 1841 aged 70 but it is not clear if they are one and the same.

James Larra was sentenced to death on 12th December 1787 at the old Bailey for the theft of a silver tankard, this was reprieved to transportation for life and he embarked on the Scarborough on 11th November 1789 and arrived at Port Jackson in 1790. He became certainly the most prominent Jew in the earliest years of the colony, and one of the most colourful personalities and successful emancipists of his time.

By 1801 when he took into care his two nieces, James had been principal of the night watch in the 1790s,in 1797 received a land grant of 50 acres at Field of Mars, became a dealer and publican , and had received his absolute pardon in June 1800.He was operating the Freemasons Arms at Parramatta and was one of the Colony’s more prosperous emancipists. From 1801 he was a sergeant in the Parramatta Loyal Association.

He married Susannah Wilkinson (Convict Mary Ann 1791) on 10th November 1794 at Sydney. They had no children.

In 1804 Larra received a 100 acre grant to be held in trust for the two girls. He described them as orphans in a petition in 1810 requesting confirmation of an additional 600 acre grant of behalf of the girls from the anti-Bligh regime.

Susannah Larra died in June 1811 and was buried at St Johns Parramatta on 15th June aged 53. In her obituary it noted that she had endured a long and painful illness and left a husband and two amiable nieces, she had been universally esteemed throughout all classes of Society and her funeral (in heavy rain) was attended by a Vast Concourse of persons, some from Sydney and other settlements.

The two girls were the focus of gossip and scandal in the colony between 1814 and 1818.

In 1818 his niece Hannah, aged about 18, left the colony without permission and went to Hobart, whence she sailed to Ceylon on the merchant ship Greyhound as the mistress of the ship’s Captain  Thomas Richie, who received a very heavy fine for helping her to abscond when they returned to Sydney in 1819.

Following a tempestuous relationship the couple later settled in Launceston and married in 1831 and had a family of seven sons and two daughters Thomas died at Perth on 9 February 1851 aged 82,after a long illnessHis widow Hannah survived him more than thirty years, dying at Longford on 25 August 1882, aged 85 .

Elizabeth, aged 17 married Walter Lang (Came Free) of Glasgow, on 17th June 1812 Their only son, John George (1816-1864), became Australia's first native-born novelist and barrister. Walter died in in 1816 aged 27. Elizabeth returned to live with her uncle James in 1816 as a widow with a small child.


In the 1828 Census she was living with Joseph Underwood (Came Free Midas 1821).When Elizabeth was 33 she married Underwood on 17th August 1829. They had six children – 2 sons and 4 daughters.

Elizabeth died at Ashfield on 31st August 1858 aged 63 years Joseph had died on 28th August 1833 in Sydney aged 58

Complied by John Boyd 2020



- The Founders of Australia by Mollie Gillen p 161,162 & 149, 150.

-The Second Fleet by Michael Flynn p 395,396, 397

- Sydney Cove 1788 to 1800 in 5 Volumes by John Cobley

-The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts by John Cobley

-Harris, John (1759–?)-Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966 by G. F. J. Bergman

-Larra, James (1749–1839)-Australian Dictionary of Biography,Volume 2, (MUP), 1967by G. F. J. Bergman




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