James Wright (c.1757–1825)

JAMES WRIGHT was a convict transported per Scarborough (1788). He is one of seventeen First Fleeters with memorial plaques buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. WRIGHT started out as a highwayman, but his transportation to the Colony of New South Wales saw him start a new life as the colony’s first baker at Port Jackson and then the Government baker at Parramatta for seventeen years.


  • Born: c.1757
  • Committed Crime: July 1783
  • Imprisoned: July 1783, Newgate Prison, London
  • Removed by habeas corpus from Newgate for trial at Maidstone: < 11 August 1783
  • Trial: 11 August 1783, Maidstone, Kent, England
  • Received Death Sentence: 11 August 1783, Maidstone, Kent, England
  • Death Sentence Commuted to seven years transportation: 11 August 1783
  • Accomplice William Steel is executed: 4 September 1783 (c.f. Kentish Gazette, 10 September 1783)
  • Transferred to the Censor hulk: 20 October 1784, River Thames
  • Dispatched to Portsmouth by wagon: 24 February 1787
  • Embarked on Scarborough: 27 February 1787
  • Sailed with the First Fleet per Scarborough13 May 1787, Spithead, Portsmouth, England
  • Arrived in Botany Bay per Scarborough: 19 January 1788
  • Arrived at Port Jackson per Scarborough: 26 January 1788
  • Colonial Baker under Governor ARTHUR PHILLIP: early 1788–c.1792
  • Government Baker at Parramatta: c.1792–c.1810
  • Birth and death of son, JAMES WRIGHT (II): July 1792
  • Birth of son, GEORGE WRIGHT: 1794
  • Birth of daughter, JANE WRIGHT: 1797
  • Birth of daughter, SHEPHERDESS WRIGHT: 1799
  • Married LETITIA HOLLAND: 10 April 1810, St. John’s Church, Parramatta
  • Died: 15 March 1825
  • Buried: St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, 18 March 1825

Burial Location

  • Section 1, Row I, No. 21, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta



  • Baker
  • Farmer
  • Publican


  • Convict Censor, (20 October 1784 – 24 February 1787)
  • Convict Scarborough, (27 February 1787 – 26 January 1788)
  • Colonial Baker under Governor Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson, (1788 – c.1792)
  • Government Baker at Parramatta (c.1791 – c.1806)

Related Content

James Wright: The Highwayman (2016)

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Abstract: The colony’s first baker, James Wright, started out as a highwayman. Wright nearly did not get the chance to try out his baking skills, though, as he almost went to the gallows for holding up and stealing the watch of the young, wealthy son of an American Revolutionary War hero on one of the highways running out of London. His death sentence, however, was soon commuted to seven years transportation to Africa. During his sentence, he was incarcerated in Newgate Prison and spent more than two years on the Censor prison hulk on the Thames before finally being transported – not to Africa, but to what was about to become the Colony of New South Wales. Soon after his arrival on board the First Fleet convict transport Scarborough, Wright was appointed baker at Port Jackson. Later, Governor Arthur Phillip made him the Government Baker at Parramatta; it was a role Wright kept for 17 years. But the watch-stealer who had by then risen far above his convict status also learnt that what goes around comes around… more>>



Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

  • John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts, (North Ryde, N.S.W.: Halstead Press, 1970), p. 298.
  • Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991).
  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 395.


# First Fleet

# Convict

# Punishment: Seven Years Transportation

# Hulk: Censor

# Ship: Scarborough (1788)

# Burial year: 1825

# Grave: marked