FF John Owles, Convict ‘Alexander’ (c1752-1806)

and FF Mary Wilson, Convict, ‘Prince of Wales’ (c1740-1816)

 John Owles, late of St George’s parish Southwark, was sentenced on 20th July 1785 to seven years transportation at Croydon Surrey, for sending spring saws and a file into prison to help in the escape of persons confined there.

On 21st October he asked permission to transport himself, saying he was 33 years old with a wife and five children. Refused, he was ordered to the hulks on 25th, and delivered from the Justina hulk to Alexander on 6th June 1787.

At Sydney Cove Owles married Mary Wilson Convict Prince of Wales on 27th September 1789, with John signing the register.

Mary Wilson was sentenced to seven years transportation at the Old Bailey on 21st February 1787 with Mary Newlan (also Prince of Wales) for theft of clothing. A witness saw ‘a shirt sleeve hang from under cloak’ as she left a house. At her trial she said the neighbour who had followed them had promised she would not be hurt. From Newgate they were both sent by wagon to Portsmouth on 30 April with other convict women and embarked on Prince of Wales on 3rd May


John and Mary were sent to Norfolk Island by HMS Sirius some 8 months later on 4th March 1790disembarking at Cascade Norfolk Island on 14 March 1790.

In May 1794 John was working the 60 acres allotted to him and selling grain to stores. He and Mary were recorded still on Norfolk Island in the February 1805Muster, where John was victualled from stores as an overseer. He had no children and his house was valued at twenty five pounds. By August 1806 he was overseer of tools and a second class citizen.


John Owles died on 14h December 1806.

His headstone stands today at the Norfolk Island Cemetery gives 23 December 1806 as his date of death.

The inscription on his headstone reads: hic jacit (Welsh for Here Lies). A faithful friend , A Father Dear, A loving Husband Lyeth Here.

There are no known children of John Owles, the mentioning of been a father on his headstone, may refer to his children that he left behind in England.


His wife Mary receiving a payment of twenty pounds,for the boarded and shingle house, in June 1808 as his widow.

Mary was recorded on Norfolk Island until around 1813 and apparently returned to Sydney in 1814 aboard the Kangaroo in February 1814 where she is recorded as the wife of James Sheers (Convict Scarborough)

As Mary Sheers, she died 15th August 1816 Sydney, aged 85 years, buried 17th August 1816 Old Sydney Burial Ground Sydney

The Fellowship of First Fleeters installed a FFF Plaque forJohn Owles at Kingston Cemetery Quality Row Kingston N I on 6th March 2001.

Refer FFF Web Site:http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/graves.html

Under FFF Plaque 110 – Installed 6th March 2001for

FF John Owles, Convict ‘Alexander’ (c1752-1806)


Compiled by John Boyd 2020


-The Founders of Australia by Mollie Gillen pages 271,388 & 389

-Dispatched Down Under by Ron Withington p49

-The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t17870221-55

-www hmssirius.com.au by Cathy Dunn-john-owles-convict-alexander-1788-and-mary-wilson-convict-prince-of-wales-1788



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