TRACE, John (1754-1823) “FIRST FLEETER”

John was tried at Exeter 20th March 1786 for stealing 1 ewe value 10 shillings,

30 pounds weight of mutton value 7 shillings “the goods of persons unknown”.

He was found “guilty” on the second count and “not guilty” on the first count and transported for 7 years aboard the “Charlotte” arriving 1788 making him a “First Fleeter”.

While awaiting transportation on the Hulk “Dunkirk” he was reported as being “a decent and orderly person” but not long after his arrival in the colony he was sentenced to 200 lashes for stealing flour from his tent mate and also ordered to replace the flour.

In January of the next year (23rd January 1789) he received 50 lashes for stealing a pair of shoes. 

In August he married Mary Rose a convict who had arrived on the “Lady Juliana” in 1790.

Mary ROSE had been convicted for stealing furnishings and other items and was also sentenced to 7 years transportation.

The lady (Mrs Kestleby committed perjury) admitted to fabricating the story about the theft of the items she had accused Mary Rose of stealing.

A letter was sent by Sir Joseph Banks to Governor Phillip asking him to “look out” for Mary.

In 1790 Mary ROSE and John TRACE marry and a son George was born 1796 and baptised at St John’s Parramatta in September that year.

On 3rd November 1792 John is listed on the Government list of land grants and leases. They settled at Prospect on a 50 acres of land described as “laying at the foot of Prospect Hill”.

John received his “Absolute Pardon” on 3rd November 1792.

For a time he was successful at farming but when his health began to fail and Mary was also reported as in ill health and they moved back to Sydney.

In the Colonial Secretaries Papers dated 8th September 1821 John is listed as an “object of Charity”.

He died 1st July 1823 aged 82 years and was buried at Sandhills Cemetery.

1790 – Marriage John TRACE & Mary ROSE.

1796 – Son George born.

1823 – John TRACE dies age 82 years.

The following year 1824 Mary ROSE married James KNIGHT who had arrived on “General Hewitt” 1814, James HEWITT had been convicted at “The Old Bailey” and sentenced to 7 years for the crime of “theft”. In 1838 a son Charles was born to Mary & James.

1833 George TRACE marries Ann REYNOLDS.

John Trace Memorial headstone in Devonshire Street Cemetery

John Trace Memorial headstone in Devonshire Street Cemetery. Image courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

The inscription on the headstone reads

Sacred to the memory of
John Trace
Who Departed This Life 1st July 1823
Aged 82 Years
A Faithful Friend, A Father Dear
A Loving Husband Lieth Here
In Space Of Time God Did Him Take
Lord Rest His Soul For Jesus Sake

The plaque was placed on the headstone by The Fellowship of First Fleeters

Source:, Fellowship of First Fleeters