The Reverend Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the colony married convicts John Parker and Mary Small on 12 October 1788. The witnesses were convict Thomas Akers and servant to the Reverend Johnson, Samuel Barnes. As chaplain’s clerk, his name appears numerous times as witness to Port Jackson weddings. Mary Parker’s sentence did not expire until April 1792.
John Parker was not alone when he committed the crime that original carried the sentence Guilty. To be hanged. A Royal mercy extended on condition of transportation for 7 years. He was tried at Devon Lent Assizes Exeter on 14 March 1785, with three others, for feloniously assaulting James Burt in the King’s Highway, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life and feloniously and violently taking from his person and against his will, one metal Watch and Tortoiseshell Case, one pruning knife and five shillings. He was sent to the Dunkirk Hulk aged 25, early in 1786; one of his colleagues in crime was hanged, one acquitted and the other transported. Parker arrived into Sydney Cove aboard the transport Charlotte.
Before the highway robbery, John Parker had been a marine with the 33rd Company He served for two years from 1781 until 1783 and in that time was a prisoner with crew members from HMS Lively in Havana. When released the men embarked on Diamond for England. He was discharged at Plymouth and dismissed by the Navy cutback.
At Port Jackson, while being employed in the laboratory tent with Joshua Peck and Thomas Chadwick, where on 3 July 1788 the men were found drunk after some hospital wine had been removed. John White found John Small lying in a state of beastly drunkenness and unable to speak. All were acquitted for lack of evidence. Small was removed to work on the east side of the cove.
Following his marriage to Mary Parker, the couple lived in a hut at Parramatta until February 1794 when John received a 30 acre land grant at Eastern Farms, and with his wife and his two daughters, started to develop the farmer. Over the years, he grew wheat and maize, and ran farm animals. For 17 years he was District Constable at Kissing Point, until retiring as a pensioner. John Small died on 2 October 1850 and was still the owner of his original 30 acre land grant.
Mary Parker was tried in the Old Bailey on 26 April 1786, and sentenced to 7 years transportation, for stealing but not burglary. The indictment reads for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of John Hickman, on the night on 19 April 1786 stealing two muslin gowns and coats, a cotton gown, three cotton frocks, a calico bed-gown, four pair of cotton pockets, eleven shirts, one shift, and one diaper clout. Mary then aged 25, was held over in Newgate Prison until the 6 January 1787 when she embarked aboard Lady Penrhyn. Arthur Bowes Smyth, records her trade as service.
Her life ran parallel with husband John Parker working with him on the farm and bearing seven surviving children.
Mary Parker Small was tragically drowned on 4 April 1824 in a waterhole near her home. She was discovered by two of her sons.
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Thursday 8 April 1824 recorded the incident.
Drowned at Kissing Point, on the evening of Sunday last, Mrs Mary Small. An inquest sat on the body. Verdict-Drowned by Accident.
John Parker would remain a widower for the next 34 years.
Gillen, Mollie The Founders of Australia
A Government Jail Gang New South Wales (Alfred Toogood)