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FIRST FLEETER   1763 - 1837


To say that John Gowen was amongst the earliest settlers, who helped shape the destiny of our nation, would not be an exaggeration.   John Gowen was a Corporal in the Royal Marines;  one of forty three who sailed on the H.M.S. “Sirius”, which was then under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, RN, Commodore of the Fleet, later Governor of N.S.W.


There were eleven ships in all comprising the First Fleet;  the “Sirius” was the flagship and sailing with her were Captain John Hunter, Second Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King and Captain David Collins, a Judge-Advocate.   The rest of the company were Officers, Midshipmen, Marines, civilians,   marines’ and seaman’s wives and  ..... children!


The total complement of the First Fleet was approximately 1350, made up as follows - 290 officers, marines and civilians with their families;  520 male and 197 female convicts, 343 ship’s officers and crew.


The remainder of the Fleet were 3 store ships, the “Borrowdale’, “Fishburn” and “Golden Grove”;  the armed tender “Supply” to which Captain Phillip later transferred;  the transport ships “Lady Penrhyn”, “Charlotte”, “Scarborough”,  Friendship” and  “Prince of Wales”.


The First Fleet left England on 13 May 1787, the voyage taking  8 months and arriving at Sydney Cove on 26/1/1788;  thus our John Gowen, Corporal in the Marines, became a First Fleeter!


John Gowen was born in 1763 in England.   He enlisted in the Marines in 1778 according to his record of service;  9 years later he sailed from Portsmouth on 13/5/1787 aboard the flagship “Sirius” as a Corporal of marines.   8 long months later, covering 15,000 miles, was quite a journey and if any reader is interested in the voyage, I recommend “Phillip of Australia”, a book which gives factual insight into the voyage as it was.


At long last, on 26 January 1788, the long sea voyage was over and the First Fleeters were standing on firm land named Sydney Cove;  John was then 25 years old.


John Gowen sailed to Norfolk Island as a Corporal of a marine detachment, arriving there on 4 November 1791.   However, we find  from the Norfolk Island Victualling Register that on 21 September 1792 he departed for Sydney on the “Atlantic”, and that later, he arrived for the 2nd time at Norfolk Island on 11 February 1793 on board the “Kitty”, and  departed for Sydney on 6 November 1794 on the “Daedulas”;  however in November 1791 he had requested permission to leave the Marines and was honourably discharged.   He had served some 12-1/2 years in the Marines joining when he was about 15 years old.


He settled as a “Marine-Settler” at Norfolk Island and was given a land grant of 60 acres at Phillipsburg Town, Cascade Stream.   However, this grant was later listed as land returned to the Government.   How John liked Norfolk Island would be hard to judge;  at the time John was there, unrest reigned, so perhaps he felt Sydney had more to offer.


On his return from Norfolk Island to Sydney Town during November 1794, he joined the

The New South Wales Corps. ( Rum Corps. ) "Renamed 102nd Regiment

as a non-commissioned officer (NCO), perhaps with the rank of Sergeant, where he served for 5 years.


During 1799 he resigned from the Army and was offered the position of Government Storekeeper with effect from 1 January 1800;  he accepted and commenced official duties as the Official Government Storekeeper, Commissariat General’s Department, at Sydney.


The Government Storekeeper of those days was a position of trust and ability.   The store controlled all kinds of supplies, which were needed to get the fledgling  Colony under way;  food provisions, farming equipment, building materials, machinery, clothing and many other items.


Many an earlier settler, convict or soldier, was thus assisted by the government and many were victualled from these government stores.


The Sydney Government Store was located near the waterfront as most supplies came by ship and location of the store was said to be in the famous Rocks area.   A map of Sydney 1810-1823 shows the Government Store to be situated near the Governor’s Wharf and next to Mary Reiby’s place of  business, the Commissariat Stores near John Cadman’s and within walking distance of Campbell’s Wharf in Sydney Cove.


Great organisation was required to run the Government Stores of that era;  the supplies contained therein were precious, replacement of goods depending

on the supply ships from other countries.   Distribution of goods had to be checked and rechecked.   Goods coming into the store and going out had to be recorded.   John Gowen would have been up to his eyes in “paper work’ as anyone working for the Government knows;  a true and accurate description of all goods in and out, was the order  of the day!   Thus John and his assistants worked extremely hard at the “store” in early 1800’s.


However, John liked his new position at the Government Stores and settled in very quickly;  life in Sydney Town continued on its merry way...


Thirteen years had lapsed since the arrival of the First Fleet and the Colony had undergone tremendous changes.   The First Fleeters viewed the Colony and its progress with a sense of achievement;  bearing in mind that when they had landed there had been nothing;  except a beautiful harbour!    On shore all they could see was a heavily wooded forest, still in its virgin state.   They had to cut and clear a section of this land to make room for the campsite, using axes and saws, drag away fallen timber by hand, and level the ground as much as possible for the tents to be erected thereon.


Yes, indeed, they had progressed;  but unfortunately there was some unrest among the settlers, this was due to the NSW Corps making their presence felt;  the officers, having obtained some degree of wealth through their monopoly on trade in the colony,  did not take kindly to the interference, using their power to ensure that any opposition did not go unnoticed.   So an easy peace existed.


Many convicts, who had arrived with the First Fleet, had served their sentences and were free!   One of these was Thomas Acres, who had sailed on the “Charlotte” and who was in Sydney Town at the same time as John Gowen.   Thomas had married, had a daughter Sophia, born in Sydney on 15 May 1795.   Sophia was to play a major role in the future generations of the Gowen clan.   Sadly, neither John Gowen nor Thomas Acres would live to see this event take place.


Governor Phillip Gidley King took over as Governor of the Colony from Governor Hunter in September 1800.   He was well known to John Gowen, having served with him on the “Sirius” when King was Second Lieutenant.   He had also been to Norfolk Island.


Convict transports had been arriving at regular intervals over the last 13 years and thus the convict population had grown considerably.   This was seen as an advantage for many free settlers amongst whom were now many free and pardoned convicts.   The arrival of so many unhappy new convicts meant more and more labourers could be used for the building of much needed roads, clearing land for farming;  thus they were put to work on the notorious road gangs, working long hours under the most revolting conditions, clearing heavily timbered forests, cutting and removing the tree stumps, dragging away heavy rocks and boulders that lay in the path of the new surveyed areas, where the roads were to be made.


Some convicts were assigned to the farmers in the outlying districts, others were used as blacksmiths, carpenters, builders;  if they had a trade their “expertise” was readily put to use.   They laboured under the strictest disciple imaginable;   if someone stepped out of line the law would come upon that person like “a ton of bricks” or more to the point, the offender would receive a number of lashes - a favourite method of punishment.


The female convicts in the early days were often assigned to landowners, or worked as laundry maids, cooks, pantry maids, housekeepers, children’s’ nannies, and if educated were used to act as “tutors” to the children of the family of their employers.   They worked long hours and received little thanks.   Discipline for the females was exercised readily if they did not comply with the rigid rules imposed.


Thus when one of the transports arrived in Sydney Harbour in June 1801, the “Earl of Cornwallis”, it caused the usual amount of interest, such as mail from home, newspapers though old were eagerly awaited... the new female convicts!!...but for John Gowen it meant more work.   After all, the convicts would have to be fed and issued with some clothing, just the bare necessities would be given from the Government Stores.    The work load involved was according to the number of convicts on board each transport.


While John was engaged with his duties in relation to the new arrivals from the “Earl of Cornwallis”, a young convict girl was equally busy, with thoughts, that is, that were racing through her mind.


Ordery (Audrey) Appleyard was her name and Ordery had at last reached her destination after a long and tedious voyage from England.


Happy though she was to be, at last, standing again on ”Terra Firma” she was very apprehensive as to what lay in store for her in this new land which she thought strangely beautiful...but it appeared so lonely and isolated, after the busy, highly populated, city of London,  that she had left some months ago.


It was here she was expected to serve her term of 7 years...would she survive to return to her homeland once more?


What did fate hold for Ordery Appleyard, 22 years old, single, a convict, no family or friends?   She of course, knew some of the convicts who had sailed with her, but soon they would be separated, some would remain in Sydney Town, others would be sent further a field.   Where would she go and to whom?   How she hated and disliked this new colony and she had to spend 7 years here!


The population had increased from 1036 to 6000 persons by the year 1800.   There were over 1000 head of cattle, 200 horses, 6000 sheep and 4000 swine!


Captain John McArthur had previously arrived in Sydney in 1790 and received a  land-grant at Parramatta, on which a farm had been established.   The Rev. Samuel Marsden, the Chaplain for the settlement, had also arrived and was  “busy” with his landholdings as well as his “flock”.


Bass and Flinders had been employed to explore the coastline and in 1797 Bass sailed southward on an expedition which took him to the coastal harbour, now called Kiama:  a day later he came to the Shallow Bay (also called Shoalhaven) - later named Jervis Bay.    Then he sailed in to a bay named Bateman's Bay.


In October of 1800, Hunter had good reason to suspect that there might be a  general rising amongst the numerous exiles whom he controlled.   Also he suspected that the French were secretly informed, that if an attack were made on Sydney, the assailants might count upon the assistance of the Irish rebels...with this is mind it was decreed, that if any two persons found conferring together and did not disperse with half an hour of being ordered to do so by any free person, official or otherwise, they should suffer death.


Consequently, in December 1800, a general order was promulgated calling for the enrolment of volunteers.   The object of the volunteers was to assist the civil and military powers in the preservation of good order and public and private property.   They were indeed volunteers in the true sense of the word, for they were told that they were not to expect pay for (the voluntary offer of...) their services, but were provided with equipment and accoutrements.


To this end two companies were formed, designated the “Sydney and Parramatta Loyal Associate Corps”, each of 50 men   One company was stationed in Sydney under the command of Captain Thomas Rowley who had arrived in the colony in 1792 as Lieutenant, and later became Adjutant, in the New South Wales Corps.   The Parramatta company was commanded by Mr James Thompson.   The combined body which was known as the “Sydney and Parramatta Associate Corps” was commanded by William Balmain, who came out to the colony as Assistant Surgeon to Governor Phillip.   They were reported to have rendered good service in helping to put down the convict rising at Castle Hill in 1804, but of their role in this action little detail is known.


According to the Returns of the Sydney and Parramatta Loyal Association of January 1804-5, John Gowen was recorded as one of the 3 Sergeants who served the Sydney Company.   (Historical Records of Australia, page 256).


In March 1804 the uprising at Castle Hill was efficiently but cruelly put down by Major Johnson of the New South Wales Corps.


Somewhere between 1801 and 1804 John Gowen and Ordery Appleyard became acquainted.   This friendship led to marriage and on 1 June 1805 at St Philip’s, Sydney, John and Ordery became man and wife.   John was 42 years, Ordery 27 .Ordery was a June bride.


Ordery Appleyard (or Appleford as shown in the shipping records) was born in the year 1778 in England.   At the age of 20 she was charged and convicted at Lincoln Quarter Sessions (Lindsey) and on 5 October 1798 she was sentenced to 7 years transportation.


By 1810 the population of the colony had grown to 10454 and included 120 free settlers.   Resident in Liverpool Town were individuals who were destined to make a lasting contribution to the history of Australia - and amongst these was John Gowen, the Government Store-keeper at Liverpool.


In 1795 Governor Hunter took charge of the colony and began to enforce regulations that compelled convicts and soldiers to attend church in a wattle and daub building constructed by the Chaplain, Richard Johnson.   This church was destroyed by fire in 1790.   The new church, this time, was constructed from stone, was consecrated in 1810, and served the colony until 1856 when it was demolished to make way for a new church.


After their wedding John and Ordery set up house in Sydney Town.   12 months later they had their first child, a daughter called Mary, born 17 May 1806, a first generation Australian for the Gowen clan.   She was baptised on 15 January 1806 at St. Philip’s, Sydney.


Governor King retired in 1806 and returning to England where he settled;  he died 2 years later in September 1808.


A second daughter, Ann, was born on 12 October 1807;  a sister for Mary, who was now 17 months;  like Mary, Ann was baptised at St Philip’s.


Governor Bligh had in the meantime succeeded King as Governor and now began the stormy period in NSW’s history, climaxing in 1808.


Up to this date John Gowen had not only watched the colony grow from nothing but had contributed greatly to its growth.   He had seen Governor Phillip struggle to establish a township, working under great hardship and a multitude of difficulties.   He had sailed in the “Sirius” with both naval officers Hunter and King, who followed Phillip as Governor, and he served them well.  This apparently did not apply to Gov. Bligh and John’s name is recorded as one of the signatories in support of the mutiny and the arrest of Gov.. Bligh.   An examination of all officers of the Commissariat General’s Department was ordered and John Gowen as Superintendent of stores was likewise questioned.


This examination has been recorded and can be read in the Official Papers of that period.   John Gowen was found to be innocent.


He is also recorded as having subscribed the sum of 10 pounds, together with other members prominent in the colony, to defray the costs of sending Mr. John McArthur to England, to present to the British Government, a petition listing a number of grievances against Governor Bligh’s handling of the members of the NSW Corps.


In 1810 Governor Macquarie arrived to take over the governing of the colony from the ”caretaker” Lieutenant-Governor, Major Johnston, the Commandant of the NSW Corps, who placed Bligh under arrest in 1808 during the so-called Rum Rebellion.   Under Macquarie’s leadership Australia started to settle down again;  trade was revived, export of our wool was commenced, road making began in earnest, bridges were constructed, new buildings were built with the use of sandstone from quarries at a nearby site, present-day Paddington Hill;  the old shabby “lean-to” type dwellings were demolished to make way for more substantial homes.


John and Ordery were once again blessed with a child,  this time a son  named John, born 15 February 1810, and he was baptised at Liverpool on 25 March in the same year.


Since John Gowen senior had become a Government Storekeeper in 1800, he had requested and received several grants of land in Sydney, as well as near Parramatta and Liverpool; the following grants were recorded:-

On 12 March 1800 he was granted 200 acres at Liberty Plains by Governor Hunter (Grant No. 980);  on 1 January 1806, 100 acres near Banks Town (Grant No.1347) and 100 acres each situated on the north bank and on the south bank of Prospect Creek . .  the last grant is now the site of the Carramar railway station.   These grants were also made by Governor Hunter.   John also received the lease of a parcel of land, 31 rods in size, in Sydney Town for a  14 year term (Lease No. 186).   Then on 8 August 1809 John Gowen received 208 acres at Minto (Grant No. 1527) and 208 acres at Petersham Hill, although the last property was listed as having been surrendered back to the Government on 23 January 1810.


Prior to 1810, John Gowen had submitted a request seeking permission to resign from his position as Storekeeper at Sydney and to take up his grant of land at Liverpool;  later he further requested that Governor Macquarie  would confirm his land grant, stating that John Palmer Esq. would vouch for him.   At the time of writing these requests, John stated that he had been 22 years in the Colony of NSW  and was at present in ill health, that he was free and a marine-settler who had served some 12 years in the Marines prior to being honourably discharged in 1791 at Norfolk Island;  later joining the NSW Corps (later re-designated the 102nd Regiment) as a Non-Commissioned Officer (in the rank of Sergeant) and serving in this regiment for 5 years, then becoming Storekeeper with the Commissariat General’s Department in 1800.   The letters were dated January 1810.


Again in July 1810, he wrote to the Governor stating that he had continued as Storekeeper till 30 June as he had promised Mr Palmer;  once more he  requested to be allowed to retire.   He decided to retire to his farm with his wife and 3 children..


It is difficult to ascertain whether John’s resignation was accepted, however he did leave his position as Storekeeper at Sydney and he did go to Liverpool; but we find later that he was once again the Storekeeper, this time at Liverpool.


Perhaps, he took up farming for a short time,  but was requested to resume his duties as Storekeeper;  could be there was a great need for an experienced manager to oversee the stores and he was asked or recalled to office.   In any case, it appeared he did accept the request and we notice that he is now the Storekeeper at Liverpool.


The area near Liverpool had been inspected by Governor Macquarie in November 1810 and he was very interested that this district would progress and that the township would flourish.


The Liverpool Town Library has completed a brief history of Liverpool;  which gives an indication of the area at the time John Gowen became the Storekeeper there,  his place of work was situated near the Georges River and a nearby wharf was the centre where barges and small watercraft called alongside to unload stores and supplies from Sydney to be sorted and recorded by John, assisted by assigned convicts, and then deposited in his storehouse.


No doubt it was a change of pace for Ordery and John after  the hustle of life in Sydney Town with its never ending arrivals of transport ships bringing not only new convicts but also new settlers, delivering stores which were being carted away in all kinds of conveyances ... carts, drays, wagons and horseback;  convicts being assembled, sorted, inspected,  by landholders and gentry, questioned about their trade and then finally being transported in carts or on foot to their new assigned place of work, whether a farm or a  homestead, or a barracks or a campsite along the track in the “bush.”


Building now was in  great swing;  roads as such were shaped all over the area and new “highways” were being explored outside townships into the countryside;  mail coaches ran from the Town to Parramatta and Liverpool some 15 miles away and even further to outlying communities.


Bullock teams, heavily laden with stores of all kinds would lumber over rutted and pot-holed tracks;  horse and buggies would canter along to and fro townships;  soldiers could be seen marching in troops off to duty or all dressed for parade to the square followed by gaily-dressed women and their off-spring, the sound of drums enticing a great number of onlookers from their homes.


John’s residence and farm were situated within walking distance from the government storehouse, and his neighbours had occupied farms or properties nearby to necessitate the planning of streets (with names)  and the erection of fences, John’s property was thus situated on the corner of Elizabeth and George Streets;  when he looked out from his home he could however still see around for miles.]


The scenery was that of beautiful forests of eucalyptus trees and a quietly flowing river.



On 17 September 1813 another daughter, Frances was born.   John was 50 years old.


About the present time, there were a number of farms that were set aside to grow and produce wheat,  others had good grazing lands and thus were allocated flocks of sheep or cattle and by 1814 the population had multiplied in such an extent, that a clergyman and a school were required.


Also a fairly good road had been opened between Sydney Town and Liverpool and another was under construction from Parramatta to Liverpool.


In the General Muster of 184 the population in the region of Liverpool totalled 832.


The Sydney Gazette of 25 March 1815 noted that a John Gowen was the Government Storekeeper at Liverpool, which by now had grown rapidly for it was located on the crossroads leading towards Camden, Airds, Campbelltown and Appin.

Then on 24 April 1816 another daughter, Elizabeth, was born.   So now John and Ordery had four daughters and only one son to carry on their name.


The first sad note to be recorded in the history of John Gowen Senior was dated 17 October 1819, when Ordery, his wife, died of cancer at Liverpool, aged only 41 years old.


Ordery Appleyard (also recorded as Audrey Appleford) had arrived in the Colony in 1801 and married John Gowen in 1805;  thus she had only been married 14 years in which time she had borne 5 children;  at the time of her death the youngest, Elizabeth, was then only 3 years.


There is not much known about Ordery and research has revealed very little other than that she served her sentence and that she married John Gowen.


The only puzzle would be about her real name;  the records of her arrival in Australia give her name as Ordery Appleyard.   Her marriage licence shows her to be Audrey Appleford - perhaps an error was made in the shipping manifest, but for some strange reason the name Appleyard was given to one of her grand-daughters  ... maybe she had her name changed when she married.


Ordery Gowen lies at rest in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery at Liverpool.   A small notice in the Sydney Gazette reads that on 17 October 1819 Ordery, wife of John Gowen, storekeeper, Liverpool, had passed away.


At this stage, I would like to pause in the history of John Gowen, to write a  little more on Ordery/Audrey/Appleyard/Appleford Gowen.   As a young girl of 22 she was sent from her homeland to the Colony on a  seven year sentence on a charge which we cannot find evidence of whether it was committed or not.   A sentence of 7 years transportation was the minimum in those days and in most cases the so-called crime committed did not warrant such a punishment.   She came out on the “Earl of Cornwallis” under extremely trying conditions for such a young lass.   The journey itself was long and tedious even for the passengers whose conditions of travel and accommodation were ideal compared to those convicts stowed away in the holds of vessels...previous journeys had disclosed that many convicts had succumbed during the trip to inhumane treatment of the escorting soldiers and their officers!


Because of severe criticism by many public figures the authorities brought pressure to bear on ships’ captains and crew, as well as the escorting detachments, to introduce some humane conditions on board ship regarding accommodation, food and care of sick convicts.


Once ashore the worries of the journey were over, but young girls were again at the mercy of questionable laws imposed;  some would have the good fortune to be assigned to compassionate and considerate families, others would serve their sentences under harsh conditions with severe punishment for small inefficiencies, in some instances, the lash!...some became through no fault of their own, women of “easy Virtue”.


To whom Ordery was assigned or where she was sent, we have been unable to uncover and her first appearance was after some 5 years when she married John Gowen in 1805.


John Gowen was a man of some prominence as a Government Storekeeper and his wife would be expected to be of good character;  Ordery was a “lady” and accepted with ease and charm the role of John Gowen’s wife.


Ordery spent some 18 years in this new country;  in that time, she, in her own little way - helped to shape the future of her adopted country;  she worked with her husband in founding a home; raising 5 fine, first generation Australians and all in a short period of 14 years of marriage.   Her illness was diagnosed as cancer and this dreadful disease claimed her life when she was only 41 years.   It is indeed sad that Ordery did not live to see her children grow up, share with them their successes and progress, see them marry and share the joy of being a grandmother.


Ordery was one of the many unsung heroines of the early days of Australian history;  never making the headlines, just quietly going about their every

day duties in a land that was still in it infancy, sometimes rewarding them for the efforts, other times harsh and unrelenting, giving little in return.


There was little hope for many of these unfortunates to see their homeland again,  so they quietly accepted the inevitable of being just one of the “Quiet Pioneers”.


At the time of her mother’s death, Mary, the eldest daughter, was 13, the youngest child, Elizabeth, only


Life at Liverpool, in the 1820’s, was to quote from the “Foundation of Liverpool”, a place of considerable hustle.   Liverpool was the next town in importance to Windsor.   The streets were well laid out in building allotments.   There was a church, courthouse, a gaol, convicts and military barracks, a general hospital, several good inns and storehouses.   A stagecoach ran 3 times a week between Sydney and the Liverpool Township.   The beautiful open forest country added to its many charms.  It was an ideal place for the Gowen children to grow up in.


Grow up, they indeed did.  Young Mary had turned 15 years and 3 months when on 16 August 1821 she married Sergeant William Henry Jones of the 48th Regiment (Northamptonshire's).   They married at St Lukes’ Church of England at Liverpool.   (St Luke's completed in 1819, still stands to-day (1981).   Mary was the first child of John and Ordery to marry.


The 48th Regt. was the only regiment  situated in Australia at that time and there was a military barracks at Liverpool.   It would be safe to assume that Sgt. Jones may have been stationed there.   They were married by special licence and Rev. Robert Cartwright was the officiating minister.   The dashing sergeant must have been well known to John Gowen, and  of more importance, won John’s approval before he was allowed to ask for Mary’s hand in marriage.


John knew well, that a soldier’s life was one of frequent postings and movement of families, and that a wife would have to follow her husband;  if William’s regiment was moved to another country then his beloved young daughter, Mary would leave to be with husband;  so while it was a joyous occasion for the Gowen family, John’s thoughts must have turned to Ordery, his late departed wife, and mother of Mary, who was not here to share with him the happiness of their first child’s marriage.   He, John, must have felt lonely at the thought of her absence, and the impending departure of Mary from the family.


At the time of writing this story, it has been difficult to follow Mary and William Henry Jone’s whereabouts after the marriage.


Our research shows the following item which was copied from the War Office Records (reel P.R.O. No.3799 War Office 12/5974) at the Mitchell Library...

      Jones,  William Henry:   served as Sergeant in the 48th Regiment, the Northamptsonshires, stationed in the Colony of NSW from 1817 to 1824.

      Service details -

      14 Nov 1823 - transferred to the 48th Regt of Foot in the Colony of NSW

            (Remarks - on Command in England)                                      

      24 Nov 1824 - With Grenadiers Company

      24 Apr 1825 - Pay 15 pounds 3.8d for period 25 Feb 1824 to 24 Apr 1825

            joined from England, landed from Colony-bound ship

      24 Nov 1825 - 48th Regt embarked for Madras (East India) leaving two companies (Under command Lt Brotheridge in Sydney and one        Company (under Capt. Altman, who was also the Paymaster) at Port Macquarie.

            Note:  there were 10 companies in the Regt.”


The above information is all that can be traced of Wm Henry Jones;  maybe he went to East India after all;  maybe he went to Port Macquarie or resigned from the army and stayed in the Liverpool area?

He and Mary did go to India where their two children were born.   They later returned to Queensland where their daughter Frances married a Peter Nicol.   See later in this narrative.


Mary and William Jones are the next item on my list to be researched, thus any information in this regard would be most welcome.


John Gowen’s days were very busy, with the increase in population and handling of stores at Liverpool and other outlying districts, the new inhabitants were always needing supplies and at the government store it was “business as usual”.


John’s correspondence was accumulating also;  like all of us he suffered the inconvenience of goods not arriving on time or not arriving at all as promised, and the many letters and reports, from that period, relate to the difficulties he experienced just as we experience to-day.


It appeared that Mr Palmer, the Commissariat General, had issued standing orders which stated that, all goods, bartered, issued or purchased through the stores had to be entered in a daybook or ledger  to account for its movement from/to the store.


In 1817 John Gowen then wrote to a Mr David Allen in March of that year requesting a survey of the damaged maize in the Liverpool store, which was most annoying as this maize was meant for distribution.


In 1819 a request for the Returns dated 25 January in that year, and again on 24 January 1820 a Mr Drennan was being queried on stores receipts dated 15 Jan 1820.


In 1820 a John Thomas Campbell, merchant, was enquired of to answer regarding the delay in the delivery of much needed wheat...


A few months after the marriage of Mary to William Jones, John Gowen married himself for a second time;  Mary Wood was her name;  she had arrived in the colony aboard the “William Pitt” on 11 April 1806.


Mary Wood was convicted at the Middlesex - Westmore Quarter Sessions in October 1804 and sentenced to be transported to the colonies for 7 years.   She was 32 years old at that time.   We cannot ascertain whether she was married or otherwise when convicted..


Mary Wood was born in England in 1774 and on arrival in Sydney in 1806 was apparently assigned or employed by a Mr Nicholls of Parramatta.   Her early days like Ordery’s, remain somewhat in a mystery until she completed her sentence in 1813.   It is assumed that she may have come to know John and Ordery as well in these years, perhaps John had occasion to meet her on his journeys to the Parramatta stores,   It would appear that she had been to Liverpool because of her wedding;  one of the witnesses was a Rachel Moore and the other a James or Isaac Knight;  there were people living near John’s homestead in Liverpool with the following names:  Thomas Moore, Rachel could well have been related to this gentleman;  further a James or Isaac Knight also lived near John.


John Gowen and Mary Wood were also married in St Luke’s Liverpool on 27 November 1821.   Mary was 47 and John 57 years old.   Although they had no children themselves from this union, Mary had an instant family of 4!   At that time Ann was 14, John 11, Frances 7 and Elizabeth 5 years old.


In 1822 John was employed at the Parramatta stores and had set in motion  his desire to retire from public office and had requested that he be granted a pension.


With his request for retirement, a number of character references were submitted on his behalf, and the submissions which accompanied his application sounds like a “Who’s Who” of early Australian history;  there was  John Palmer, who was a Purser on board the HMS “Sirius” when John sailed on her as a Marine and who spoke very highly of him, stating “That in year 1800 he was appointed Storekeeper under me as a Principal Commissary, which situation  he filled with honesty and propriety until the mutiny in 1808, when I was put under arrest...”


John Palmer,  you may recall was the Assistant Commissary General at that time and John had requested Mr Palmer previously to be allowed to retire from his position as Storekeeper to take up farming ...  This was during the Rum Rebellion in 1808 when Gov Bligh was placed under arrest by the NSW Corps.


Next as referee was the Rev Robert Cartwright, who made an impassioned plea, speaking of John’s services to the Crown in the capacity of a Marine, an NCO in the 102nd Regiment and nearly 23 years of service in the Commissariat’s Department in the Colony of NSW as a Storekeeper;  a total of nearly 39 years.   He referred to John’s severe indisposition, which renders him (John) incapable of performing his duties as he (John) would have liked.   He further states that he has dependents, namely a wife and 5 children .... the 5 children mentioned pose a puzzle, who was the 5th child?   Mary was married and away with her husband, that left only 4!



Perhaps at the time of  making the request Mary was still living at home and that the application had got “bogged down”  in the usual “red tape” of government administration, just as to date, and in December 1822 the case at last had reached its finalisation!


The next referee was the Rev Samuel Marsden, the Senior Chaplain in the colony, who is well known in Australia as the “Flogging Parson”, and for John Gowen to receive such a favourable report from this same man was indeed no mean feat;  Marsden states that...”has known John Gowen for nearly 30 years in every situation he has held under the Crown, and that his conduct has been that of an honest, faithful servant to the public and merits any indulgence he may receive.”


Major George Johnston, Officer Commanding the NSW Corps, said of him that he had known the Petitioner since he first arrived in the Colony and he always conducted himself in the strictest honest and propriety.


Mr Thomas Moore, who was close neighbour and a Master Builder, said:  he had known John Gowen for 20 years and he knew him to be an honest, industrious man and worthy character.


Mr John Reynolds said he knew John for 30 years and did not believe there could be a more deserving man.


Mr John McArthur, once an officer of the NSW Corps and presently a landholder in the Camden area, was also most generous in his praise about John.   He wrote....”The memorialist has been known to me upwards of 32 years.   At the commencement of that period as a Non-commissioned officer in the Marines and later in the NSW Corps, and since his discharge from the Army as storekeeper in His Majesty’s stores.  In both conditions of life I have always considered him an honest deserving character.”


After such noteworthy references and due consideration, a petition was delivered to Mr Wemys, the Deputy Commissioner General stating that the Governor-in-Chief, having perused the Memorial of Mr John Gowen....”I am commanded to signify to you that in consideration  of the very great length of public service, etc. that on retirement, His Excellency will order him to be borne on the Colonial Pensions List of two thirds of his present pay.”


Thus.... John Gowen retired late 1822/early 1823 at long last after some 40 years in the service of his country, now at age 60 he could at last enjoy the pleasure of a relaxed and peaceful life.


On September 1824, John’s daughter, Ann,  married George Taber at Parramatta.


The Taber family was a well established family in the Colony.   Thomas Taber , George’s father, was one of the first school teachers to be appointed in the Colony.   He arrived in Sydney in 1797, well after our John Gowen arrived here  in 1788.   He and his off-spring are well known in the present day area of Campbelltown.   They obtained land which is partly still in the Taber family.


John Gowen was a great family man and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to take his wife and children for “trips” to the “city”.   Now that he had retired, he took them often travelling by “coach” from Liverpool the 15 miles to Sydney Town, sometimes he would drive their own horse and carriage.


Then  they would all dress in their best finery;  the girls wearing their ribbons and laces and pretty bonnets in the fashion of those days.   John Junior, the only boy, would don his “suit” and boots shined to perfection:  Mary proudly sitting next to her husband.   John had much to tell them about Sydney Town;  each time he visited there, so much was there to see, always something new or exciting!


After all John Gowen had watched this growing city expand from only a cleared area near the water’s edge with some scattered tents to a sizable town with  buildings jumping up everywhere;  churches, shops and hotels, teahouses, fashionable residential, palatial home...


Streets were now well laid out, although not paved as yet, but were more appreciable for traffic at that time, as horses drawing buggies and carriages, coaches, drays and wagons, all made their way through the thoroughfares.


Governor Macquarie was responsible for this advance and prosperity;  he had returned to England in 1824 (?) but left behind a city which had grown “out of-sight”, no longer were there tents or bark huts, now there stood mighty fine and impressive buildings.   Governor Brisbane was now the Governor of the Colony and he had acknowledged the “liberty of the  press” in 1824 and this constituted a “First” on the road to freedom and independence for the colonists.


John Gowen then, would point out to his family, where he had landed in 1788 as a Corporal of Marines at the First Fleet’s entry into Sydney Cove;  showing them now the busy harbour with its many sailing vessels lying at anchor and the transport ships still bringing new convicts;  perhaps here Mary would pause and ponder her own arrival in 1806 as a female convict and how she had progressed from being a convict to a most respected member of the community, as well as becoming the wife of a most respected citizen John Gowen, Esq., now a retired public servant, and the stepmother of his children...


The family would look at the new,  interesting shops with the many exciting wares on display, and perhaps as a treat they would have tea and sandwiches in one of the new teahouses.   Or they would go to the candy shop to buy “bullseyes”, peppermint sticks, and boiled lollies.


Mary and the girls would touch and look at the various dress materials, silk, satin, cotton and lots of other shiny and soft dresses.   And if there was money left John would, perhaps, allow them to purchase some material.


They would  stroll in the gardens, walk down to Mrs Macquarie’s chair and take in the marvelous view of the harbour in all its splendour ... then a very tired, but happy, family would return to Liverpool with all they had seen and experienced etched into their memories forever.


Liverpool itself did not stand still;  new buildings were being erected here also;  one such building was the Liverpool State Hospital, which replaced the ramshackle, original, structure built in Governor Macquarie’s time.   The new hospital was completed in 1825 and still stands to-day.


Francis Greenway, an ex-convict, designed both St Luke’s Church and the hospital.


In 1825, 9 October, a daughter was born to Ann and George Taber, she was named Frances Rachel, a grand-daughter to John Gowen.


It is difficult to say that this child was the first grand-child for John as Mary, his daughter, who married William Jones, the Sergeant, perhaps could have had a child herself before 1825 but this cannot be verified.   Anyway, Frances  became the second generation of the Gowen's in the colony.



      Perhaps it would be pertinent to add at this point that William Henry Jones and Mary gave birth to a   daughter, Frances, registered  in 1824 in Poonamalee, India.   William Henry went to India with his Regiment, later    returning to  Queensland where Frances married a Peter Nicol and settled in that State.  Peter came from       Scotland and together with Frances established my Nicol connection in this country.  Frances had a brother, also       William Henry, also born in India, and to the best of my knowledge, finished up in New Zealand.    Syd Norris March 2001.  (At this point it my intention to include the Nicol family tree as an appendix to this reprinted   journal.)


1826 came and passed.  However, on 6 April 1827, Ann Gowen and George Taber had another child, this time a boy who was called George John - George after his own father and John after his grand-dad.


Then, 3 months later, on 29 June 1827, Mary Gowen (nee Wood), John’s second wife, died only 53 years old.   She was buried on 1 July at Liverpool’s old cemetery, which is now called the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery.   The burial ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Robert Cartwright and a headstone was erected - however, all that remains now is a time-weary headstone, broken in the top right hand corner.   Visible are the words “Mary Gow...”, nothing else!!!


We checked the newspapers of that period between the years 1821, when Ordery Gowen, John’s first wife died, and 1828;  we were lucky to find a very small notice in the Sydney Monitor reading as follows:   “Mrs  Gowen died 29 June 1827, wife of John Gowen, late storekeeper, Liverpool”.   Mary Wood remains somewhat of a mystery:  she and John shared about 6 and a half years of marriage and what she died from was not shown on her death certificate, just the bare facts;  once again John Gowen is without a partner.


In a census taken in 1828, John Gowen was recorded as having come free in he colony from the “Sirius”, age 65 and with 2 daughters living, Frances and Elizabeth;  also living with him were George Taber, born colony, age 27, his wife Ann and their daughter Frances, age 3.


John  Gowen Junior, age 18 now, was apparently not living with his dad at the time of the census, for he does not appear as such.   A Mr John Gowen was listed as having been appointed as the Poundkeeper at Liverpool on 5 March 1827 and also having resigned from this position on 13 May 1828.


Possibly, this John Gowen could have been the son and this could be the reason for his absence on the census of John Gowen’s family at his residence.


That same year, in 1828, on 9 October, John Gowen’s little grandson, George John Taber died, only 1-1/2 years old.   Ann Taber (nee Gowen) and George Taber lost their only son, who would have carried on George’s name;  for they produced eight daughters of which one died in infancy, of the remaining 7 at least three married later in very influential and prominent families, e.g., the Ashcrofts of Liverpool fame.   The Taber name was however, carried on through George’s brother, James.


In 1829 wedding bells were ringing once again in the Gowen household.   This time it was for Frances, the third daughter, who was to marry a clergyman, William Sutherland, age 22 and born in 1807.   There was, of course, much excitement, young Elizabeth Gowen would be the bridesmaid and the witnesses were Ann Melville and E Gowen.   The marriage ceremony was held at Scots Presbyterian Church in Sydney on 18 July 1829 and conducted by the Rev.J. L.ang.


As William was a Minister of Religion, it was expected that he would be moved to an area where there was a need for his services and the day came for him and his new bride to travel to far-away districts along the South Coast of NSW;  in later years we find they settled in Braidwood where they lived until their deaths.   They were buried to-gether in Braidwood Cemetery and a grave, with a suitable headstone, depicts their last resting place.   They had no children.


Likewise in 1829, on 6 October, Ann Taber (nee Gowen) gave birth to a  little baby girl;  named Sarah Elizabeth.


John Gowen senior, now 65, was still living in Liverpool,  only his daughter Elizabeth aged 13 was looking after him.   His other 3 daughters had all married and left for their own homes;  also John, his son, was living at his father’s home.


Ann Taber and her husband, George, who had lived until recently with John Gowen, had been given some 50 acres by Thomas Taber in the Airds district, and had settled on this property.   They had at this time some 30 acres cleared, but was not yet under cultivation.   George and Ann had 9 horses and 7 cattle.


In 1830, the population was still on the increase and convicts were still arriving in great numbers;  however moves were afoot to put a stop to this, instead  promote the influx of immigrants.   Of course, not all inhabitants of the new colony were delighted with this idea, as many landholders saw their cheap or free convict  labour come to an end.    Also they were anxious that these new immigrants would take up land they had considered theirs by right of occupation;  even if that land was not granted to them.   In other words, they were afraid squatters would take over their territory


Governor Darling was presently the Governor of the Colony after succeeding Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane in 1825 and he remained until 1831.


Since John Gowen came to the colony so much progress had been made;  new areas had been discovered and settled upon, newspapers were now being printed;  the Sydney Gazette became a daily in 1827.


Cattle and sheep had been driven inland across mountains and rivers;  explorers were looking for new territories further inland towards  outback NSW, not only inland but also overland they went;  they travelled towards the present-day borders of Queensland, Victoria and South Australia..   Hospitals, schools were erected, country areas were being populated and built on, small townships were created along the main roads, along bridle tracks;  all this in just 40 years from 1788 to 1831.


None of this was accomplished easily and much hardship was experienced by the explorers and settlers alike;  whilst this country offered much in the way of land, it was no so easily put to good use.   There were dreadful tragedies such as floods, droughts, bushfires, and awful windstorms.  During 1827/28 a terrible drought caused much distress and financial loss to many...


Governor Bourke came to the Colony in 1831 and served until 1837;  he was the last Governor that John Gowen would know and he had served under a few Governors already;   namely Phillip, Hunter, King, Bligh, Macquarie, Brisbane, Darling and now Bourke.


According to a census taken in September 1836, NSW had a population of some 77096;  this it had increased by some 75000 from the time the small group of 1350 human beings arrived in the colony in 1788.



A great many events had taken place since 1788 in the colony.   Hume had discovered the passageway to Bathurst;  it was great triumph and achievement for Hume and his companions to find a way through and over the Blue Mountains, through the toughest countryside in its untamed state, to the plains and lush grazing lands of Western NSW.


The first steamship named the “Surprise” was launched and made its way up the Parramatta River. There were, of course, other vessels sailing the Parramatta River, but this was a steamer.   Thus there was great excitement at Sydney  and along the shores of the river from Sydney to Parramatta the crowds gathered to watch this vessel make its maiden voyage.   John Gowen and his family as well as other members of the community of Liverpool, would have travelled to Parramatta to see the arrival...


The Domain was opened in 1832 and in August that year a “National” school had been established.


Scores of free settlers had been arriving as well as convicts.   (The first of the “Norris” family, one Edward Powell, and his wife to be, Elizabeth Fish, were included in the party of the FIRST free settlers, arriving on the “Bellona” in 1793, receiving land grants at Liberty Plains in the Concord/Homebush area.   Edward Powell was a Second Fleeter, a seaman on the “Lady Juliana”, returning to Britain with his ship, coming back with the object of marrying Sarah Dorset who bore him a son (out of wedlock) but obviously Elizabeth attracted his eye and their marriage two weeks after their arrival was the first marriage of free settlers in the country).   John Gowen was now considered to be an old established pioneer,  in 1831 he had been here approximately 40 years, closer to 41.


John displayed a great interest in the “newcomers” of the 1830’s, realising that these people were to be the pioneers of the future, just as he had become a pioneer of the past.   He had great admiration for these settlers knowing only too well what they were going to face and that only the strongest would survive.   He had been through it all at Sydney Town and Norfolk Island.


Sure, there was land to be had, but one had to venture far from Sydney Town and the outlying areas far afield to the recently explored territory in rugged country with access to it by way of bridle tracks or “footpaths” through dense bush country where many of the bullock-wagons, drays, horse and carts, carriages and the more comfortable coaches, could and did meet the most hazardous and rigorous conditions of travel.


Still these courageous people went out there;  convicts who had served  out their sentences and were now free, new settlers with their families and all their meagre possessions tied down on top of all kinds of carts and  wagons;  they made their way up and down the coastline or over the mountains out west to the new land.


Upon their arrival they literally started with nothing;  with the few tools they had, they got to work;  with an ordinary axe they cleared the required area to set up a rough dwelling made from whatever there was available in the bush, such as tree bark, logs, clay and rocks;  just a roof over their heads.   Later they would commence building a more substantial home in many instances making this dwelling with logs into a cabin with a fine fireplace and chimney.   The bricks to make the chimney and fireplace being self-made.


 One of these settlers on the move was John’s  daughter, Frances, who with her husband, William Sutherland, made their way south and eventually settled in Braidwood.   His other daughter, Ann, now married to George Taber, were already settled at Menangle on their own property.   Mary, his other daughter who married William Jones was where the Army had decided William’s next posting would be (believed to be in the Brisbane area assuming that by this time the family had returned from India)  so only Elizabeth and John Junior were at home with their father.


John was in his 74th year and his interesting and varied life was drawing to a close.   Life was a challenge to John and he accepted it as such... On 28 April 1837, he died but it was not at Liverpool, in his home, but down south in the Kiama area.   He was buried in the grounds of “Christ” Church of England, situated at the end of Bong Bong and Manning Streets, Kiama, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, a place of peace and  beauty, on the Australian coastline which John had grown to love.


John’s last days were not spent in reflecting on past events;  months before he died he finalised the purchase of land at Bong Bong, and the fact that he was in Kiama when he died leaves a lot of questions to be answered.   He was not a young man and to make a journey to Kiama at that age and the mode of transport available to make the trip would have been a challenge for a young and able man.   If he did in fact make the trip by ship, it no doubt would have been more restful if the seas were calm;  but a regular steamer service was not in vogue till the late 1840’s sometime after John’s death.   The type of vessel he sailed in and how close to Kiama it came, could still mean a  man of 74 years was not lacking in courage and determination, when he set out to make this journey, be it by land or sea...  (sailing ships were trading between Sydney, Wollongong and Kiama in the 1830’s and Lawrence O’Toole, one of Shirley Norris’ ancestors, was Captain of the “William IV” (“Billy”), “Bee” and possibly other small trading craft, tying up to a tree near the Church where John Gowen is now buried.)


No matter, how John came to be at Kiama may always remain a mystery;  to me it seems a perfect place for John to be buried.   Nature was very kind to the coastal town of Kiama with the sparkling, blue ocean and the beautiful green mountains;  a place to be happy in, also a place of peace. a fitting place for John Gowen, one of the First Pioneers of Australia, sharing the distinction of being one of the “FREE FIRST FLEETERS”.


                              STRANGERS, FRIENDS,

                              AS HERE YOU SEE,

                              THE SAD TRUTH OF MORTALITY,

                              LET EACH ONE ASK HIMSELF,

                              AM I PREPARED,

                              SHOULD I BE CALLED TO DIE....”


                                            .. In memory of..

                                            Mr John Gowen  

                                  who died, 28th April, 1837

                                             Aged 74 years



My search for John Gowen’s began a year ago, in September 1980, when my husband, Andrew and I, were visiting my Aunt, Mrs Harry Dunne at Bateman's Bay.   We were already keenly interested and devoted to our family history and at that time were engaged in research on our own side of the family tree: that is the Backhouse, Barclay and Roughley families;  my Aunt Elizabeth who is fondly called  “Aunty Bee” had visitors, among them was a Mrs



Gladys Shepherd, her daughters, Heather (Mrs Mick Speer) and Patricia (Mrs Tommy Dunne) all Irving in Bateman's Bay.   In the course of discussion on various families,  we found we had mutual relations through marriage, this of course created immediate interest.   Mrs Shepherd then casually remarked that she was a descendent of a FIRST FLEETER;  our first reaction was one of amazement, followed by excitement and pleasure!   As any fellow researcher knows, when tracing one’s ancestors, to find a convict First Fleeter, is a BONUS;  to find a “FREE” FIRST FLEETER, is a great distinction indeed.


Mrs Shepherd, nee Gladys Gowen, was the Great Granddaughter of John Gowen.


We obtained a few facts from Mrs Shepherd and so started our search for the history of John Gowen, First Fleeter.


John Gowen lived in the days when Australian History was being made and while not one of the famous names of early history that we all know so well, he did share with them, their moment of glory and indeed took part with them in some decisions of importance.   In doing so, he was not criticized by those with whom he did not agree.   This is borne out in the despatches sent by Gov. Bligh to the British Government of the time.   When referring to those who had subscribed to a fund to defray the cost of dispatching John McArthur to England to speak on behalf of the so-called mutineers of the famous “Military Rebellion of 1808”; he noted that of those who had signed the petition, of the 10 names listed, nine were of low character, having come out as convicts, “with the exception of John Gowen, who was a Marine”.


John Gowen was very familiar with the streets of Sydney Town, its business premises and the many inhabitants.   He knew Mary Reiby and her husband who had set up business in the early 1800’s.   Mary herself had been a convict, arriving aboard the “Royal Admiral” October 1792.   Mary Reiby, nee Haydock, was sentenced to 7 years, she acted as Nurse Maid to Major Grose’s children.   Mary and her husband had 7 children and it is most likely that Ordery Gowen and Mary Reiby were friends.   Mary Reiby became quite famous as an astute and reliable business women, highly respected, receiving large grants of land, which she put to good use.   (1995 - her portrait appears on the front of our new $20 plastic currency note and it was in her home that the Bank of New South Wales, established in 1817, commenced business.)   Her place of business was near the Government Stores.   Simeon Lord, Henry Cable and James Underwood were also businessmen on friendly terms with John Gowen and family.


In the years John spent in Sydney, he observed that those who were prepared to work hard would indeed meet with success.  It didn’t matter if you were a pardoned convict, a free settler with little money, as long as you saw the opportunity and grabbed it.


John Gowen was a highly respected man, he had earned and received in no small measure the praise of his employers and fellow citizens.   He had been a  devoted husband, loving father and grandfather.   He had never shelved his responsibilities as a marine and a soldier, accepted and carried out all orders and instructions issued.   He stood firm in his beliefs but never denied others the right to believe in theirs.   He had mixed with the poor and humble, the proud and the wealthy, and was accepted by both.   He was proud of his country and his ancestors but was equally proud of his adopted country, Australia, which had been his home for over 49 years.


Elizabeth Gowen his daughter was still at home with John as was his son John jnr.   John had not married as yet but his father knew that in a few years he would, and his name would be carried on..   6 years after John’s death, his son did marry and produced 10 children, 5 were sons.


The one mystery that haunts us;  why is John buried at Kiama?   Many theories have been put forth by relation and friends;  my own theory is, that perhaps  John was visiting his daughter, Frances Sutherland, who was down South, he took ill and died in the area and so was buried at Kiama,  both of his wives were buried at Liverpool, having predeceased him in 1819 and 1827.   Both daughters, Ann Taber and Elizabeth were at Menangle and Liverpool, as was his son John.   It stands to reason that as devoted children to their father, they would wish he be buried with their mother at Liverpool;  if that was impossible, they were prepared to allow him to be buried at Kiama because he would have been near some member of his family.


Great care and attention was given to his grave  and the headstone erected, also to the verse inserted as an epitaph on the headstone.


We of course tried every means possible to find why John was buried at Kiama, all to no avail..   His death was not registered at the Registrar General Dept.. nor at Liverpool Church of England, Kiama Reg.. of births, Marriages, and the only record was at the Church of England Kiama, in a register,  dated from 1834, which states who he was, when he came to Sydney, what he did, concluding “How he came to Kiama has not been ascertained”.


A small plaque has been inserted by the Kiama and District Historical Society dated 1977, reading as follows “John Gowen was a Corporal of Marines on H M S “Sirius” Flagship of the First Fleet, 1788”.   (John is also mentioned in the book “Blue Haven” by William A Bayley, a history of Kiama (Page 31).   (John is also listed in “The Pioneer Register, Second Edition, Volume II, Audrey Appleyard is shown in the “Spouse Supplement in the same volume.   He was also mentioned in Mollie Gillen’s book “The Founders of Australia” and a further book, the name of which presently escapes me).   (A memorial by Sgt William Henry Jones in the Colonial Secretary’s papers 1788 - 1825 ties him in with John Gowen and requests permission that he be allowed to remain in the Colony after the departure of his Regiment.)


Each one of John’s children led an interesting life and each one has a story to be told;  here I wish to refer briefly to John Junior, who married Mary Ann Smith, daughter of Jeremiah Smith, a convict who arrived  in the colony aboard the “William and Jane” in August 1791, he married Sophia Acres, who was the daughter of Thomas Acres who was also a convict, sailed on the “Charlotte” a convict transport of the First Fleet.


John Gowen the marine and Thomas Acres, the convict, both arrived in Australia as First Fleeters, and both could not foresee that a grand-daughter of Thomas Acres, would marry the son of John Gowen.   This may sound strange but John Gowen Junior was 14 years older than Mary Ann Smith.   The Gowen clan now lay claim to First Fleeters on both sides of the family.


In finalising my history of John Gowen, First Fleeter:  may I say, he led me a merry chase, never dull always interesting, I found new relations and made many new friends.   I searched  through many an interesting documents of the early history of Australia, it was like turning back the clock, watching the characters play their part in the shaping of a small settlement which through their efforts and determination would grow to be the Great country that it is to-day....


John Gowen’s descendants have every reason to be proud of him.   I loved writing about him;  I feel he should be as well known to his descendants as he has become known to me;  if I have succeeded, then I am happy.


In concluding my history on John Gowen, First Fleeter, 1763 -1837, I have endeavoured to present the facts as interesting!!! as possible.   I have checked as much as possible the information I have obtained.   I would also like to point out that I am an “Amateur Writer’ interested in the early pioneers of Australia.   For my errors I apologise and trust I will be forgiven.




I hope the  Gowen clan will enjoy this short history.


My thanks to the following people who kindly assisted me in producing this story:

Mrs Gladys Shepherd (nee Gowen) of Bateman's Bay.

Mrs Heather Speer (nee Shepherd) of Bateman's Bay

A very special thanks for their generosity.


Mrs Isabella Miller of Braidwood.


Mr Leslie Gowen of Reidsdale.

Mr J Gowen of Gateshead, Newcastle.


Mrs Susan Hapgood (Secretary of Bateman's Bay and Clyde Historical Soc).


Miss Violet and Dollena McRae of Clyde Mountain, Braidwood.


Rev. Stephen Gabbott of Kiama.


Mrs P Beadman of Braidwood.


Miss L Tan, Librarian of Liverpool Library.   For her valuable assistance.


Mitchell Library, Sydney.

The Archives Office, Globe Street, Sydney.


For the illustrations by Andrew Vandyke, whose assistance was invaluable in the research department and for his patience.   (Some of his illustrations, if not all, have been omitted from this printing).


My sincere thanks to all.


Patricia Vandyke


(On behalf of the descendants of William Henry Jones and Mary Gowen I would like to add our appreciation to the work done by Patricia Vandyke and express the hope that Patricia will pardon the liberty I have taken in reproducing this work.   Apart from a possible spelling mistake which might have escaped my proof reading I have endeavours to reproduce the work as  accurately as possible {except that I have used full stops rather than . which frequently appear in the original.   Some punctuation marks were a little difficult  to follow and some variation here, I have no doubt, has occurred.   I have made several additions to the transcript mainly to update the Jones side of the history and these are shown in BOLD ink.)

Syd Norris,   e-mail: