Our Caribbean Negro convict John Martin, was born circa 1755 and died with is family around him as his time came to an end in 1837.
Nothing is known about him prior to his conviction, nor is it likely we will ever find more. By following history, the African Negro, ‘Caribbean’ at that time, with his parents or grandparents, would have been slaves sent to the American colonies. In those days and later many Negroes joined ships as sailors or as stowaways, during the American War.
This could have been so for John Martin. Slaves usually took the name of the owner. John Martin was a protestant aged about 27 years when he was convicted. He stole clothing: two coats valued at 2/- (two shillings) stuff waist coat 1/- shilling and a pair of stuff breeches 2/- the property of Stephen Turnbull. He also stole 2 stuff coats 10/- shillings, two cloth waistcoats 5/-, two pair cloth breeches 5/-, a cotton waist coat 1/-, the property of John Turnbull and stolen from his home on 8 May 1782.
Our descendant John was tried at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey on Wednesday 3 July 1782 and on the following days. The sixth session in the Mayoralty of Right Hon. Sir William Plomer, Lord Mayor of the City of London. Tried by the First Middlesex Jury, before Mr Justice Buller, one of the Justices of His Majesty’s Court of King’s Branch. It was trial number 421. The Jury consisted of:
|Solomon Hudson||George Thompson||Nathaniel Darvin|
|John Winstanley||Samuel Calderwood||William Inwood|
|William Lowe||George Thompson||William Greenhill|
|James Elliot||John Hovcroft|
Stephen Turnbull deposed that he went up the pair of stairs, found the door wide open. He went downstairs and informed his mother of it. The prisoner present here in the dock rushed by them in the passage with the bundle of clothes mentioned in the indictment. It was produced in court and they were deposed by the prosecutor.
The verdict: Guilty of stealing clothing to the value of 39/- shillings in today’s (2015) money $3 dollars and 90 cents. Judgement handed down his sentence: John Martin, transport for 7 years to the Coast of Africa on the Deyser. But John Martin became ill and was off loaded to languish on the Ceres hulk until he became a First Fleeter in 1788.
Note: Stealing over the value of 40/- shillings carried the death sentence in England.
Court Reference: Old Bailey Sessions Papers dated 5 December 1781-16 October 1782 (Roll (2) FM4).
John Martin was aboard the transport ship Alexander when it arrived in Sydney Cove, 26 January 1788. At the time of landing at Sydney Cove, John had technically only one year to serve. On 26 August 1792 a John Martin married Ann Toy (Neptune 1790) at Saint John’s Church, Parramatta. Ann was a convict and died on 11 February 1806 childless.
There is no proof that this was our John, but the area and the date make it easy to believe this to be so. As John Martin received fifty acres he had to be married at the time. A male was granted thirty acres, if married, twenty acres more and ten acres for each child. In 1792 our John Martin settled on a grant of fifty acres at No 93, Field of Mars, on the Northern Boundary farms. The grant was made by Governor Phillip. The rental of 1/- shilling today’s currency 10 cents per annum was to commence after ten years.
On 12 January 1810 he was appointed Constable of Northern Boundary on 3d (three pennies) a day. He resigned from this position on 25 January 1826 at the age of 71. (Sydney Gazette 28 January 1826).
John was also a pound keeper at Northern Boundary; a notice appeared in the Sydney Gazette 2 April 1814: Impounded at the Northern Boundary a Bay horse with three white feet and a white forehead. The owner may recover same on application to John Martin, Pound keeper, as above and paying the necessary expense.
John’s first born child was a son John, born to Mary Randall (aged 13) on 17 November 1807, followed by Sophie 30 December 1809 and Frances on 21 February 1810. On 20 July 1812 John Martin married the mother of his three children, Mary Randall, at Saint John’s Church Parramatta. John was 57 years old and Mary was 19. John was literate but Mary signed the Marriage Certificate with an “X”. They were married by Samuel Marsden and was witnessed by Richard Partridge who was feature in the next generation of Martin’s, and Sarah Heneratty. On the wedding day both Sophie and Francis were baptised.
Mary Randall was born in Parramatta on 4 December 1793 to convicts Mary Butler (Neptune 1790) and Negro John Randall (Alexander 1788).
In the year of 1814 Muster it states ‘John Martin Alexander‘, one free, on stores. Constable, Northern Boundary, Mary Martin, born free, on stores, two children on stores, two children off stores, wife of Constable’.
During his years as a convict my direct descendant John Martin received twenty five lashes. On Friday 29 August 1788 with William Davis and John Parker were secured by the guard for lighting a fire in their hut. John Martin whom they tried to secure ran away. Saturday, 30 August William Davis, John Martin and John Parker were charged with lighting a fire in their hut after they had been visited by the Constable, contrary to orders. Private William Cable and the prisoners gave evidence, the accused were found guilty and sentenced to receive twenty five lashes each.
In all John and his wife Mary had eleven children. In 1828 census John is listed as retired on a pension, seventy years of age, living at Field of Mars, with five children and two grandchildren. The wife Mary and other children are not listed. Does this mean she had left him and was living with someone else who was the father of the later children? All but one of the children was baptised as the child of John and Mary Martin. The other one is registered with only Mary as the mother. John is also listed as having three horses, twenty sheep, forty acres of cleared land and fifteen acres cultivated.
John Martin died at Field of Mars and was buried at Saint John’s Parramatta NSW on 22 December 1837. His death certificate says he was a farmer and 88 years of age. In his will he left 10 acres and the house to son Henry. His daughter Sophie was to occupy two rooms. The land was divided into four allotments and John, Frances, Sophie and Hannah were to draw for them. To his wife Mary he left 1/- (shilling). This would prevent them from contesting the Will. The horses were to be equally divided between the children. He signed his Will with an X, but this was twelve days before his death, and he was eighty (88), maybe he (John) was incapable of writing?
Mary Randall Martin died aged 64 years on 27 September 1857. At some time she had lost a leg and was bedridden for some years. Mary was also buried at Saint John’s Parramatta; the death certificate states her children as four (4) males, five (5) females and one (1) as deceased.
History recorded by Dorothy Martin and retyped by Barry Jude Martin JP being a direct descendant of John Martin and John Randall.