John Winter arrived at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 as a sailor on the Alexander, a transport.

Winter is listed as a seaman on the crew of Alexander when Governor Phillip commissioned Lt. Shortland on 14 July 1788 to return to England. The three transports,  Alexander, Friendship, and Prince of Wales and the store ship Borrowdale set sail via the east coast of New South Wales northward either through Endeavour Straits or around New Guinea to Batavia and thence to England. Their complement was small, only six per a hundred tons, officers included. There was no surgeon, and the vessels were not provided with those articles which have been found essential to the preservation of health on long voyages, such as bore-cole, sourcrout, potable soup, and other ‘antiseptics’ recommended by the Royal Society.

By 17 October two of the ships Alexander and Friendship, travelling together, had had much sickness, fevers, and scurvy some resultant deaths .This meant  that the ships were undermanned for the weather they were encountering and as a result Friendship struck a reef off Borneo. Alexander dropped anchor nearby and by lighters the crews emptied the stricken Friendship. Having pulled her off the reef, and as she was listing badly, they decided to scuttle her. On 28 October one John Winter was dispatched to the Friendship and with an auger bored holes in her bow between wind and water, cut her from alongside the Alexander and set her adrift. At about nine o’clock that night she went down.

When Alexander reached the Cape of Good Hope in February 1789, she encountered Sirius there on her voyage to purchase provisions for the beleaguered NSW colony. At this port Sirius took on some seamen both for her own crew and for that of the Supply. A seaman John Winter from Stockholm, Sweden, joined Sirius. There is a record of payment to John Winter for work done on Sirius at Sydney in May and June 1789, and also of a daughter born to him by Ann Sandlin. It is likely that this John Winter was the first fleeter, now able to tell his mates at Port Jackson about going on board Friendship with an auger to bore holes through the bows below the surface of the water.

Winter was on the Supply on a return voyage to England leaving Sydney Cove on 5 March 1791 and was discharged at Deptford in May 1792. No record of his birth or death has yet been found.




Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters