The Randall / Martin Families and the First Fleet.



The Afro-Australians

The Randall / Martin Families and the First Fleet, Sydney 1788

"A work in Progress"

(revised 22 December 2018)

Written by Ray Fairall


Acknowledgements: Dot Martin, John Brown, Myree Blim, David Kohen,
Georgina Pinkas, Aileen Lingard, Nancy Latham, Topsy Coopes, Cheryl Hunt,
Dianna Charles, Chris Morrow, Bonny Fairall, and many others.


Email: rayfairall@gmail.com



Sydney Cove 1788 by William Bradley

The Afro-Australians

It has been estimated that over 20000 Australians are direct descendants of two Black African Convicts who arrived on the transport ship Alexander with the First Fleet in 1788. The two men were John Randall and John Martin. Many people are surprised at the notion of there being Negroes with the convicts, but the original sources have many references to them. Estimates of their number range from a conservative 2% to as high as 4%. The two were given adjoining land-grants at North Parramatta in 1792, and both eventually married convicts from the ship Neptune, of the Second Fleet. John Randall had three surviving children, Frances, Mary and John. Mary eventually married John Martin and they have many descendants. The two men had contrasting personalities. Randall had the more adventurous spirit while Martin was content to stay at home on his farm on his original land grant. Their descendants married other black newcomers, emancipated convicts, free settlers, aboriginal and (very often) their own cousins. By the middle of the nineteenth Century large numbers settled the area stretching from North Parramatta, Carlingford, Pennant Hills, the Field of Mars Common and the Fox Valley. Many of these people had distinctly African features, but were often publicity identified as aboriginal. This part of Sydney was known derisively as "Dixieland". Some descendants acquired property and respectability and inter-married with the other "old" families of the region (John Howard link). Others remained "fringe dwellers". At least one descendant was hanged (for a crime he didn't commit!), another was shot by police (Tom Conquit link). Many were associated with the timber trade, as sawyers, timber cutters etc. Towards the end of the 1850's the larger community broke up, some moving to settle the Clarence River region of NSW, others going to Sofala and Wattle Flat (for the gold rush) and a remnant group consolidating themselves along Pennant Hills Road and near Aiken Road, Pennant Hills. The latter was known within living memory as "Dixi Lane".



The AfroAustralians: Group picture at Wattle Flat (near Bathurst) in 1895. The black women is Elizabeth Fonceca, a Great-grandchild of John Randall, through John Aiken. The black man to the left is believed to also be a Randall/Martin descendant and possibly a son of Peter Coups and Hannah Martin.



One Genealogy of Randall descendants has reached ten generations. On the other hand, there are still Australian's, who can count five generations back to John Randall. Clearly after two hundred years the African genetic contribution in offspring has been "overwhelmed" by that from the larger European "gene pool". There is strong anecdotal evidence however, particularly from the Aiken and Martin branches of the family, of the retention or reappearance of some "African" characteristics. Descendants report occasional instances of "African" medical complaints. In maturity some develop a blue / grey tinge to their hair colour. Occasionally a child with a darker (than the general population) skin colour is born to descendants, particularly if their "line" includes as often happened, marriage between cousins.

Perspectives

A clinical reading of the existing original records of the exiles of the early colony in New South Wales reveals that they were not the jolly rosey cheeked innocents we were taught about in Primary School.. Generally they were tough, bawdy, drunken, licentious, men and women. This is particularly true of many of the people mentioned here. It should also be pointed out that quite a few of their social "betters" in the early colony were probably much worse in terms of the modern view of moral character.

John Randall

John Randall was a Afro-American (often refered to as "a black" or "a Negro" in the records) from New Haven, Connecticut. He was born about 1764. Given the social conditions in America at the time it is almost certain that John and his parents would have been slaves. He was convicted in Manchester on 14 Th. April, 1785 for stealing a steel watch chain and sentenced to seven years transportation. How or why he turned up in the North of England is not known, however at the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1782, many of the British troops and (perhaps) some of their auxiliaries, were repatriated to the Lancashire area. There is no direct evidence that he had been a soldier, but there are a few intriguing hints of a familiarity with things military.

NEW: The trial of John Randall.

Indictment Rolls Ref. QJI/1/159 (1785)
Doc. 1
Lancashire to wit. The Jurors for our Lord the King upon their Oath present That John Rundel late of Manchester in the said County (? too feint) on the first day of April in the twenty fifth year of our reign of our
Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth in the Parish of Manchester and County of Lancaster aforesaid
One steel watch chain of the value of one penny Of the goods & Chattles of Joseph Wardle then and there found and being by Force and Arms feloniously did steal take and carry away contrary to the peace of our
Said Lord the King his Crown and Dignity.
Tried & Guilty Transported to some parts beyond the seas for seven years next.
 Witness:  Joseph Wardle

Doc. 2
Lancashire to wit. The Jurors for our Lord the King upon their Oath present That Charles Johnson late of Manchester in the said County Labourer on the first day of April in the twenty fifth year of our reign of our
Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth in the Parish of Manchester and County of Lancaster aforesaid
One printed Linen pocket Handkerchief of the value of four pence and half a piece of Ribband of the value of one penny of the goods & Chattles of Joseph Wardle then and there found and being by Force and Arms
 feloniously did steal take and carry away contrary to the peace of our Said Lord the King his Crown and Dignity
Tried & Guilty Transported to some parts beyond the seas for seven years next
Witnesses:  Joseph Wardle, John Coppook, Joseph Lockett A True Bill

Doc. 3
Lancashire to wit. The Names of Jurors to try the issue of the Travers between our Sovereign Lord the King and:-
John Ormerod, James Clark, Samuel Jones, Charles Johnson, John Rundell, John Caruthers, Joseph Dewhurst, Charles Hammond, William Harrison, Thomas Holt otherwise Marsh, Ann Edgerley, James Eccles and Thomas Butterworth

1 Thomas Flitcroft of Farnworth
2 Alexander Lever of Great Britain
3 John Rudge of same
4 James Kershaw of Birtle with Bamford
5 John Taylor of same
6 Oates Sagar of same
7 William Clayton of Anglezarke
8 Humphrey Harpur of Manchester
9 George Geaton of Salford
10 Abraham Hulme of Little Lever
11 Miles Ainscough of Aspull
12 James Whittle of same
13 Thomas Stopfort of Audenshaw

Issues of every of them are 20s
Everyone of them is attached by his pledges

John Sparing Esquire Sheriff

Randall was sent to the Hulk "Ceres" early in 1786 and transferred to the Convict Transport "Alexander" on January the 6th 1787. His name was recorded as Reynolds when he was mustered aboard even though he had been arrested and tried as Randall. These names may have been just convenient "slave names" in an era when Black men and women were known solely by their firstnames.

The "Alexander" and the other transports, storeships and men-o'-war of the First Fleet sailed on the 13 th May 1787 from Portsmouth. They rested at the island of Tenerife, and the towns of Rio de Janeiro in South America and Cape Town in Africa , where food supplies were replenished. The first elements of the fleet arrived at Botany Bay on the 18th of January 1788 and the rest by the 20th January. The site of the settlement was quickly moved to Sydney Cove because of the lack of a reliable water supply at Botany Bay, and all the ships of the fleet were moved there by the 26th January.

Click here to view Extracts from the log of the Alexander 1786 to 1788.

John Randall in New South Wales

John led an interesting life and his name appears often in the records of the early settlement in New South Wales.

What happened to John Randall?

After John Randall left the army it becomes difficult to trace his movements. He is mentioned in the musters of 1811 and 1814 (see notes below). The difficulty in tracing him is that there were many others with the same name including his son John. It is suspected that he became a Constable in Sydney for a short time before being dismissed, but this is speculation. .

John Randall (Alexander 1788) is almost always  otherwise identified in the records of events as "Black Randall", and as from the Alexander 1 in official documents.. The next time he is mentioned officially is in 1847, in the document accompanying the  J.J.Galloway Government Survey of the Field of Mars Common in the North/East Ryde area of Sydney. The paper records that Mary (Randall) Martin whom it identifies as the daughter of "Black Randall", was squatting on the common, and that she had twelve children.

It is interesting that Randall was known to the Government Surveyors in 1847, and is worthy of a mention on their record thirty three years after the previous last official notation in the 1814 muster. This suggests some local fame or notoriety.