FF JOHN ROWE Convict ‘Scarborough’ (1757–1810)

John Rowe was born on 7 September 1757 at Lanivet, Cornwall, England and baptised in the Lanivet parish church on the 5th June 1757. He was the second child of William and Grace Rowe


On the 19 March 1785, John Rowe, at the age of 28, along with Edward Miles (shown incorrectly as “Moyle” in trial records) aged 24 years, were standing in the dock at the Assizes held in Launceston, Cornwall and both charged with ‘feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Benjamin Barrett at about 11 in the fore noon, no person being therein and stealing thereout two cloth coats valued at 50 shillings and other goods valued at 17 shillings and 8 pence his property.’ The jury found them guilty of stealing the goods but not guilty of breaking and entering the house in the day. They were both sentenced to be transported ‘beyond the seas’ as soon as practicable for the term of seven years.


At the same time and place, his older brother William Rowe, at the age of 30, was charged first with breaking into a house with intent to murder the owner, and second, for the theft of a canvas bag with money totalling 33 shillings and 6 pence. He was found not guilty on the first charge but sentenced to seven years transportation for the second.

John and William Rowe, along with Edward Miles then survived for a year in Launceston Gaol before being transferred in 1786 to the prison hulk “Dunkirk” in Plymouth harbour. On 11 March 1787 they were placed aboard the convict transport Charlotte in Plymouth, and on 6 Apri1787 transferred to the transport ship Scarborough, at Portsmouth to be part of the First Fleet bound for Australia.John was aged 31.


On Monday the 12th July 1790, John Rowe aged 33 married fellow convict Isabella Manson aged 28, who had arrived in the colony on the Lady Juliana as part of the second fleet only six weeks earlier. They were both literate and both signed the register. Isabella was born in 1762 in Maidstone Kent

ISABELLA MANSON, Theft- grand larceny, 27th February 1788.

ISABELLA was indicted for stealing, on 5 January, four cloth coats, value 10 s. a cloth waistcoat, value 3 s. a pair of cloth breeches, value 3 s. a woollen night-gown, value 6 s. a linen petticoat, value 2 s. and a linen pillow-case, value 4 d. the property of Daniel Earle ; and a linen apron, value 2 s. the property of Elizabeth Earle, spinster. (The witnesses were examined apart at the request of the prisoner.) DANIEL EARLE sworn. The prisoner came to lodge with me about a fortnight before Christmas; she was with me about five weeks; she went away on Saturday, the 12th of January; she left the door locked; my daughter found the key in a corner by the room door; we had some suspicion she was gone, and we opened the door, and missed the things mentioned in the indictment (repeating them); she was searched before the Justice, and several duplicates were found upon her, by which some of the things were found again. ELIZABETH EARLE sworn. When the prisoner left our house, I missed the things mentioned in the indictment. William Burlen, a pawnbroker, produced an apron and petticoat, which he had in pledge of the prisoner, and which were deposed to by Elizabeth Earle. COLE sworn. I searched the prisoner, and found three duplicates upon her. (Producing them.)


PRISONER's DEFENCE. Soon after I came to lodge at this house, that young woman's mother went out of town; the young woman desired me to pawn these things for her, which I did; she desired me to keep the duplicates, for she might lose them; some time afterwards, I asked her if I should fetch the things out; she said, no; she had been guilty of pawning three pounds and a half worth of property of her parents to put in the lottery; since I have been taken up, her father and mother said, if I would give them two guineas they would make it up; if not, they would hang me if they could. COURT to Elizabeth Earle . Is there any truth in this? - I deny it all, on't please you my honor. You never desired her to pawn the things? - No.

GUILTY: Transported for seven years. Tried by the second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Recorder.


Isabella left England in June 1789 and arrived at Sydney Cove, Sydney, New South Wales on 6 June 1790 aboard the Lady Juliana after an horrendous 12 month journey. It is said that the ship needed to be towed into the harbour and the condition of the women on board was appalling


On 1 April 1792, John and Isabella settled on 50 acres at the Northern Boundary Farms, 2 miles from Parramatta. Their first child, also named John, was born on 4 June 1793 and baptised at Parramatta on 30 June 1793, their second son Joseph was born on 15 May 1795 and baptised on 7 June 1795, he died in 1887 aged 91, and in 1796 a daughter was born and christened Mary. Then on1 November 1799 Isabella gave birth to a daughter whom they named Sarah She was baptised on 22 December 1799 and died in 1833 aged 33.


On 1 May 1797 John Rowe received a grant of 60 acres in the district of Prospect Hill for a rent of 1 shilling per year commencing after 10 years By 1800 he had 5 acres of wheat sown but no animalsso it is possible that they had either leased their land or surrendered it. He was living off stores; his wife and children were living on stores.Eight acres had been cleared by 1802.

In 1806 they had moved to the Hawkesbury district where they were tenants on a 22 acre farm which they rented from a James Roberts. They consisted of 5 acres of wheat, 1 acre of barley, 6 acres of pasture, and 10 acres of fallow pasture, supporting his wife and four children. John and Elizabeth and family were mentioned in the 1806 muster records

Rowe received a further grant of 100 acres at Parramatta in 1808 from the anti-Bligh regime.


In January 1810 Isabella petitioned Governor Macquarie for confirmation of the grant. She stated that her husband was confined to bed and further asked that her family and their assigned convict, Michael Higgins (Convict Boyd 1809), be placed back on Public rations

The petition read; ‘in consideration of his well-known Industry and heavy losses he sustained at the Hawkesbury, my husband who is now Confined to his Bed, and my wheat  being destroyed by the last Inundation, I am totally destitute of Provisions. I urge His Excellency allow her Unfortunate Family, which included four children as well as our assigned convict Michael Higgins, be placed back on public rations’


John Rowe was moved to Sydney Hospital and he died in Sydney in February 1810 and his burial on the 14th February 1810 was registered at St Phillips, Sydney, his age given as sixty, but he was really fifty-three. He was probably buried in the old Sydney Burial Ground which was located at the site of the present Sydney Town Hall. This was the official cemetery until 1819.


His wife Isabella (Manson) is described in the 1814 and 1822 Musters as a widow with 4 children and living at Windsor, all off stores. Isabella was living at Wilberforce with Joseph Fowke/Folkes/Fowkes at the time of the 1825 Census. Joseph was a convict who had arrived in New South Wales aboard the Fortune and Alexander on 12 July 1806


Isabella ‘Rowe’ has not been located in the 1828 Census records but an Isabella ‘Kew’, aged 73 years, who had arrived aboard the "Lady Juliana" in 1790, who was free by servitude and a housekeeper, was living with Jos Foulks, in the District of Lower Portland Head NSW


Isabella Rowe died on 15 June 1847 at Popran Creek, near Gosford aged 88, and buried at Gosford NSW.

Compiled by John Boyd 2020


-The Founders of Australia by Mollie Gillen p316

-The Second Fleet by Michael Flynn p424, 425.

-www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rowe-4550 by Eileen Strikwerda and Jenny Preston

- www.wikitree.com/wiki/Manson-641by Eileen Strikwerda and Jenny Preston

-Convict Records: Denis Pember on 19th April

- www.australianroyalty.net.au/tree/purnellmccord.ged/individual/I17037/John-Rowe

-The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts by John Cobley

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



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