John Rogers [Convict "Neptune" 1790]

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John Rogers

Birthplace: Westminster, United Kingdom
Death: February 20, 1806 (48)
Parramatta, NSW, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of William Rogers and Elizabeth (Steed) Rogers (c.1730-?)
Husband of Elizabeth Allen (Celey) Rogers - Richardson [Convict "Britannia" 1798]
Father of Elizabeth Anne Wilson; John Rogers; Mary Ann Turner and Charlotte Barwick
Half brother of John W Hodges

Managed by: Suzanne Gaye Burley
Last Updated:

About John Rogers [Convict "Neptune" 1790]

The story of John Rogers is of one dogged misfortune and just plain 'bad luck'. One cannot help but feel for him and that his story shows how badly the British treated their own and how sad and outcast were the lives of Australia's first Europeans.

John Rogers arrived in Australia as a convict, in 1790, aboard "The Neptune", one of the ships of the second fleet having received a life sentence for robbery. Details put forward during his trail reveal the events which led him to this point in life.

Evidence put forward at his trail for robbery reveal that he had been "press-ganged", (kidnapped, taken forcefully aboard ship and forced to sign up with the British Military once the ship was at sea), into the Marquess of Cornwallis' army and sent to fight in the American "War Of Independence". We don't know exactly what year this was but but it is known that Lord Cornwallis was the last of the British generals to capitulate to the Americans i October 1781 meaning John would probably have been in his very early twenties when press-ganged.

John Rogers himself gives evidence that he returned to England early in 1783 or late 1782, having lost a hand during the American war. A document has been unearthed giving names of soldiers of the 37th Regiment of the Foot who were outpatients at the Chelsea Pensioners Home. A John Rogers was admitted there on 26.03.1782. His age is given as 26 years and served either 3 or 6 years and having lost an arm. Furthermore the document states that he had been born in London and was a Coachmaker. This John Rogers cannot be definitely stated to be our John Rogers but I wonder how he could have worked as a coachmaker with only one arm.

On 2nd March, 1783 it is alleged that John Rogers feloniously assaulted a John Fitzpatrick on the King's Highway and stole from him a silver watch to the value of 40 shillings, one chain, one seal, a key, a hook and two half crowns. A John Hazleworth was his accomplice.

Perhaps, unable to find gainful employment with only one usable arm, he resorted to crime but there must also be doubt as to whether he had been wrongfully accused. If one reads the trail transcript, it is dubious that a man who was seen only by moonlight and apprehended months later in the streets of London could be the right man. There is room for doubt. Poor man, another life destroying event.

Rogers was given a life sentence when tried in September 1783. He spent some years on the prison hulk ship "Censor". Records show that he was on this ship from 12.04.1785 to 12.10.1788. Britiain had been transporting it's prisoners to America but after the War Of Independence America refused to take any more. The return of soldier from the war added to the unemployment and poverty, crime was rife and prisons were overflowing. The answer was to house prisoners awaiting transportation aboard 'hulks', prison ships moored in the Thames and set the prisoners to work dredging the river. Conditions were terrible and diet poor but probably no worse than those of on shore prisons. Prisoners were at high risk from goal fever and other infectious diseases. Between August 1786 and April 1788 176 of 632 prisoners on board the 'Censor' died as a result of 64 convicts from London's Maidstone prison carrying typhus (goal fever) on board with them in 1786. Dysentery from drinking brackish water was also common. John survived over three years aboard the 'Censor', leaving it in October 1788. He was however not transported to N.S,W until 1790 when the 2nd fleet arrived in Sydney. Rogers was aboard the "Neptune".

Life had dealt him another hard blow. The "Neptune" was the worst convict transport to ever sail. The horrors aboard the 'Neptune' even before the ship had left Britain. Dreadfully overcrowded with a disobedient and unruly crew, all male prisoners were put in chains to avoid an uprising. Many died while still in the river, their bodies being thrown overboard. They remained in chains for the entire 6 months of the journey, allowed on deck for just 2 hours per day chained together in groups. The captain appears to have been a first class rogue. He had been paid for the number of convicts who boarded not for the number who arrived. The more to die meant less rations needed to feed the ones left. Excess rations were sold for profit and rations and water cut to the remaining and the death toll grew to horrifying levels. Prisoners concealed deaths and remained chained to rotting corpses just to collect the extra ration. When the ships of the 2nd fleet arrived in Sydney Cove the many eye witnesses were shocked with what they saw disembarking.

The Rev. Richard Johnson, who went aboard one of them said he found men lying "some half and others nearly quite naked, without bed or bedding, unable to help themselves; the stench was intolerable; dead bodies were thrown into the harbour, some had drifted ashore, and were lying naked on the rocks; some creeped on hands and knees. Some were carried ashore on the backs of others. All were filthy, their heads, bodies, clothes, blankets, all full of lice." Rev. Johnson did not board the "Neptune". He could not bring himself to do so. Amongst this horror was John Rogers, a survivor of the hell ship, Neptune placing his feet upon Australian soil for the first, or perhaps crawling or being carried ashore. The experience would have been one he never forgot.

What happened to him in the six years after his arrival is not known, but we do know that he had landed into a colony that was close to starving. There is reference that he was settled at Parramatta in 1796 and the 1802/04 Muster indicates he was on "stores", with a wife and one child, living on a grant. He had no claim on the government for assistance.

On 30.06.1796 John Rogers was granted 30 acres of land in the Parramatta District. It was where Toongabbie is today. It was to be held free from all fees and taxes for a space of ten years, provided that he and his heirs shall improve and cultivate. After 10 years and annual rent of one shilling. A later record indicates that of the 30 acres Rogers had 4 acres under wheat and had one hog, a wife and one child. Yet another record reveals that he had four goats and twenty hogs with a family of four off stores.

John Rogers married Elizabeth Celey at Parramatta on 29th October, 1798. John and Elizabeth had four children before John died at Parramatta at the age of 48 years in February 1806. He is buried in the old cemetery in Argyle Street, Parramatta.

John ROGERS was born c1761 Middlesex

John was convicted for highway robbery and sentenced to transportation for life. He arrived in Sydney Cove on 28/6/1790 on "Neptune".

John married Elizabeth CELLY on 29/10/1798 at Parramatta and they had the following children

  • Elizabeth Ann 1800
  • John 1801
  • Mary 1803
  • Charlotte 1806

John died 20/2/1806 Parramatta and was buried 21/2/1806 at St Johns Church of England Cemetery, Parramatta


@R-1098310312@ Ancestry Family Trees Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.


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John Rogers [Convict "Neptune" 1790]'s Timeline

July 24, 1757
Westminster, United Kingdom
April 7, 1800
Parramatta, NSW, Australia
November 27, 1801
December 13, 1803
Parramatta, NSW, Australia
February 20, 1806
Age 48
Parramatta, NSW, Australia
March 10, 1806
Parramatta, NSW, Australia