Hugh Hughes (c.1761–1830)

HUGH HUGHES, a wheelwright by trade, appears to have had a prior conviction at London’s Old Bailey before being sentenced to seven years transportation for the theft of some lead. He was transported with the First Fleet on board Alexander (1788) and worked as a wheelwright in Parramatta in a business that his own son and grandson carried on. He is one of more than fifty First Fleeters buried in the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta and one of only seventeen First Fleeters with memorial plaques buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta.


  • Alternate: ROBERT HUGH HUGHES (c.f. marriage to MARY STEWART)


  • Born: c.1761, Whitechapel, East London, England
  • Held in Clerkenwell Bridewell House of Correction: 4 January 1781
  • Tried and convicted: Old Bailey, 10 January 1781
  • Tried and convicted: Surrey Quarter Sessions, Southwark, Surrey, England, 16 February 1785
  • Sentenced to seven years transportation: Surrey Quarter Sessions, 16 February 1785
  • Imprisoned at New Gaol in the Borough: 17 February 1785
  • Sent to the prison hulk Censor on the Thames: 24 October 1785
  • Transferred to First Fleet prison ship Alexander: 6 January 1787
  • Reached Portsmouth per Alexander: 22 February 1787
  • Sailed with the First Fleet per Alexander: 13 May 1787
  • Arrived at Botany Bay per Alexander: 19 January 1788
  • Sent on shore to work with other Alexander and Scarborough convicts: 19 January 1788
  • Arrived at Sydney Cove with the First Fleet per Alexander: 26 January 1788
  • Convicted of stealing wheelbarrow frame & sentenced to 50 lashes: 4 November 1789
  • Married Second Fleet convict MARY STEWART: 16 January 1791
  • Death of Wife MARY STEWART: 24 January 1800
  • Son HUGH HUGHES (II) born: 1803 (MARY UNDERHILL, HUGHES’s servant, was the mother)
  • Died: 1 January 1830
  • Buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta: 3 January 1830

Burial Location

  • Buried in Section 2, Row J, No. 6 at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta

Trial Records

  • Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), 10 January 1781, trial of HUGH HUGHES (t17810110-20).
  • Old Bailey Proceedings Online, (, version 7.2, 31 October 2016), punishment summary of HUGH HUGHES, 10 January 1781 (s17810110-1).


  • Spouse of MARY STEWART (buried at St. John’s).
  • Common law husband of MARY UNDERHILL
  • Parent of HUGH HUGHES (II)


  • Convict, Censor, 24 October 1785–6 January 1787
  • Convict, Alexander, 6 January 1787–26 January 1788


  • Wheelwright
  • Settler

Related Content

Hugh Hughes: The Wheelwright Made Right (2017)

By Danielle Thyer

Abstract: Later a successful wheelwright and small business owner, Hugh Hughes was transported to the penal colony of New South Wales in 1788 for the felonious theft of property from a widow in Surrey, England. It was not the first nor the last time Hughes encountered the immutable effects of colonial legislation. At the expiration of his sentence of seven years transportation, Hughes did not return to the squalid streets of industrialising London that he traversed in his youth. Instead, he chose to settle in Parramatta, where he contributed to the development and expansion of the township, alongside his family. He died in 1830 at the age of 66 and is buried at St. John’s Cemetery. more>>


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

  • John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, (North Ryde, N.S.W.: Halstead Press, 1970), p. 139.
  • Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 118.
  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 182.



# First Fleet

# Convict

# Hulk: Censor

# Ship: Alexander (1788)

# Burial year: 1830

# Grave: marked