The Afro-Australians

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

"A work in Progress" These pages are under development 12/04/2021

Written by Ray Fairall

Acknowledgements: Dot Martin, John Brown, Myree Blim, Jim Kohen,
Georgina Pinkas, Aileen Lingard, Nancy Leathem, Topsy Coopes, Cheryl Hunt, Dianna Charles, Chris Morrow, Bonny Fairall, Margaret Kennedy, Liz Locke, Susan Pyee, Terry Hulme, Trevor Arnold Amos, Gloria Jean Smith, and many others.


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 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 1.3% to as high as 3% counting those of indeterminate racial origin. 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 known surviving children, Frances, Mary and John. Mary eventually married John Martin and they have many descendants. Frances her sister married John Aiken (also a man of colour) and also had many children. These relationships and others have produced the large number of 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 (e.g.Ex-PM John Howard's Convict ancestor married a Martin descendant). Others remained "fringe dwellers". At least one descendant was hanged (for a crime he didn't commit!), another was shot by police. Many were associated with the timber trade, as sawyers, timber cutters and in allied trades. 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 "Dixie Lane".

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, and three or four to John Martin. Clearly after two hundred and twenty five 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 main 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 family line included as often happened, marriage between cousins.

The AfroAustralians: Group picture one at Wattle Flat (near Bathurst) circa 1895.

The black women is Elizabeth Fonceca aka Elizabeth White, a Great-grandchild of John Randall, through John Aiken, who was also a man "of colour". The black man to the Right is also be a Randall/Martin descendant named Harry Coups, a son of Peter Coups and Hannah Martin. The latter was the daughter of John Martin and Mary Randall. The man holding the young child in the pic is Henry H Neary, a well known Australian Author who later documented life on the Bathurst District Goldfields.

The AfroAustralians: Group Picture two: Taken at the New South Wales Government School at Piller Valley, near Grafton / Ulmarra District of NSW 1909.

The area was pioneered by Henry Martin the son of John Martin and Mary Randall. Henry and his descendants set up and ran a Timber Mill at Piller Valley. Over the decades the family and the population grew and with government instituting compolsory eduction in the 1890's, the need for a local school arose. The land and the timber for it's construction was provided by the Martin Timber Mill. It is suggested that all the children in the picture are Randall/Martin descendants, with the darker children being from marriages between cousins. Apparently the Government supplied Teacher Mr. Lewis Ermenton shown in the photo later married into the Martin family.

Who were John Randall and John Martin?

There is no doubt that the two John's were a tiny part of the great Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Millions of ordinary people were stolen from their homes in Sub-Saharian West Africa, and enslaved in the new world. Some researchers estimate the number of captives sent to the New World as being between Ten to Twelve Millions over the Four Hundred of years of trading. Only about 4 to 5% of the total number reached what become the United States. About 95% of the total went elsewhere. The Portugese initiated the trade, and were the last to stop it. They used about 45% of the total. Most of their captives went to Brazil and were engaged in the planting, cultivation of Sugar Cane, harvesting and the manufacture of Sugar, the "White Gold" of the New World. The Carribian Islands including the West Indies, Jamica, and Barbados accounted for about 50% of the total. In all the trade in slaves was a fabulously lucrative business that existed for almost Four Hundred Years. The European entrepreneurs bought goods from the great European cities such as Guns, Black Powder, Alcohol, Trinkets and Tools to trade in Africa for Slaves. The same ships took these unfortunate captives to the America's where they were sold to work on plantations producing Sugar, Molasses, Rum, Tobacco, Coffee, Cotton etc. which in turn was transported back across the Atlantic to European countries to be sold at enormous markups. This was known as the Triangular Trade. Barbados, English Slave Trade to Jamaica

The remark besides John Martin's name on the Alexander muster (entry log) when he boarded, said that he was of "Madagascarian" (sic) Racial Type. The Y-DNA from a close Martin descendant down the male line suggests that he was from Cameroon, West Africa. An initial survey of the mass DNA from about 85 R/M/A descendants, including descendants of John Aiken, suggests that all three were of Sub Saharan West African descent. No birth certificates for slaves or free blacks normally. The New South Wales, (Rum) Corps entry card for John Randall from 1800, suggests that he was a "Black American" and came from "New Haven". It's presumbed that meant the coastal town in Connecticut, not too far from New York. There is another New Haven, on the English Channel, near Hastings. However it was created well after John Randall was established at Parramatta. This has been researched comprehensibly. Pic attached shows the Ethnicity (Admixtures) of 85 of a R/M descendants DNA matches.

John Martin's life?

John was born about 1755. An Y-DNA analysis of a direct male descendant, his GGGSon, was made in 2013. It revealed a common African Haplogroup of E1B1a originating in Cameroon near Nigeria. This is consistent with John himself and/or his male line likely being Negro Slaves at sometime.

The first written record where his name appears is the Old Bailey Court Documents when he is presented for trial on Wednesday 3 July 1782 in London. Interestingly this date precedes the three significant events for Afro-Americans at the end of the Revolutionary War. These are July 11 1782, when British forces fled the city of Savannah Georgia, the final British Evacuation of many Black Loyalists from Charleston South Carolin on December 14, 1782 , and the final evacuation of the loyalists (Black and White) from the city of New York by November 25 1783 .
However since he was arrested and imprisioned in London it is possible that he was a long time resident of the city.
The Author Simon Schama in his book "Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution" suggests that in 1765 "It was not unusual to see blacks on London streets. There were at least five-thousand and perhaps as many as seven thousand scattered over the metropolis, some living in fine town houses where, suitably got up in embroidered coats, powdered wigs and silk breeches, they served, ornamentally, as footmen or body servants to the quality. Some, like Dr Johnson’s Francis Barber, were minor celebrities, sketched and painted as charming curiosities. The less fortunate made a living as musicians or waiters in the taverns and brothels of Covent Garden, and went home to a bare, verminous room in neighbouring St Giles, where they were called "blackbirds". Far more congregated in the dockland parish of St George in the East, in the filthy streets that led from Nicholas Hawksmoor’s eccentric church. Many of them were sailors, bargemen, haulers, carters and stevedores; and some for a few pence boxed bareknuckle or played on drums and fifes to crowds in the streets and piazzas. The "blackbirds", then, were mostly poor, and were known for flitting in and out of trouble".

Who was John Randall? /* Randall stuff in here */

href="randall_trial.htm">Click here to view the trial transcript for John Rundel's trial on 14/4/1785.

The DNA Evidence

The recent availability of cheap Genealogical DNA testing services such as that provided by Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and GEDmatch has revolutionised research on the First Fleet families. The African Ethnicity trace that shows in the test results has proven to be an excellect indication of a link to the Randall/Martin family. Likewise a connection to hundreds of other family members through their DNA Matches usually allows the rapid construction of a valid family tree.

Relevant Ancestry DNA Test Results explained.

Basic Randall/Martin Family Tree.

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.

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.

  • On Thursday February the 21st, 1788, he married Esther Howard. She was 38, (he would have been around 24) and had been an "oyster pedlar", perhaps a code for another (older) profession! She was tried at the Old Bailey in 1786 for stealing and received a sentence of 7 years transportation, arriving on the transport Lady Penthyn. "Ester Harwood "otherwise Howard" received a sentence of transportation for seven years at the Old Bailey on 30 August 1786 for theft of a silver watch, keys and money from a man with whom she had been drinking at the Wheatsheaf inn, Tothill Street. She said that she sold oysters, and had gone round the tavern several times. The man had taken eight pennyworth without paying for them. She then went to the vault (latrine) and there found the watch and money. The owner admitted having been drunk at the time, and a witness said he had seen Esther take it from his breeches pocket. The watch was found in a nearby pawnshop. Esther was listed in Newgate as aged 35 when sent to Lady Penrhyn on 6 January 1787 (Bowes estimated her age as 29). At Port Jackson on 21 February 1788 she married John Randall and shared a hut with him and John Moseley. (Both men were Black or Mulatto). She was illiterate, having signed the marriage register with a mark. Ester was buried on 11 October 1789" Source: Gillen, The Founders of Australia.

  • On Saturday, October the 18th, 1788
    " The Judge Advocate and Mr. Alt sat as a bench of magistrates and tried Thomas Joseph and John Randall, who were accused of disobedience to orders. Mr. Reed, master carpenter of the Supply and Thomas Joseph gave evidence. Joseph said that he had finished his task on the 16th, and received no orders to work on the 17th. Mr. Reed said that he could not find Joseph at work on the 17th, but he had nothing to allege against Randall, who was discharged. Joseph was found guilty and sentenced to fifty lashes". Source: Collins

  • On Saturday, November the 1st, 1788, Esther Randall, Mary Hill, John Morley, Francis Robinson gave evidence against John Thomas who was accused of stealing a pair of shoes and a pound of soap. He was remanded to the criminal court for the latter crime only. Source: Collins

  • On Sunday, October the 11th, 1789, Ester Randall was buried. She died without issue Source: Collins. .

  • On between, August the 24th and the 28th, Collins noted that:
    "It having been found that the arms and ammunition which were entrusted to the convicts residing at the distant farms for their protection against the natives, were made a very different use of, an order was given recalling them, and prohibiting any convicts from going out with arms, except McIntire, Burn, and Randall, who were licensed game-killers". See the link: The Gamekillers of Governor Phillip's era: 1788-91

    Note: McIntire, Burn and John Randall were the only "gamekeepers" or "gamekillers" mentioned in the records.

  • On Sunday, September the 5th, 1790, John Randall married Mary Butler per Neptune (Second Fleet) at Rosehill (Parramatta). This marriage was the first recorded in the register of St John's Church Parramatta. They were married by the Rev. Richard Johnson. Source: Collins
    Note: St Johns Parramatta was conducted "under the gum trees" until the first church building was erected in the early 1800's.

    BUTLER, MARY ( 17??-1802)

    Mary Butler and Mary Desmont were carrying a basket containing nine pecks of French beans in Covent Garden market at 3.30 am on 5 August 1789 when a suspicious marketer overhead them conversing in Irish. The man was familiar with the language and said they had not expected anyone to understand them. When he challenged them they ran off and were caught. The two woman said the stallholder to whom the beans belonged owed Desmont a grudge, and had been impudent to her, calling her an Irish bitch, at which she had slapped his face. The women said they were at labour, although neither was known at the market, according to the prosecutor. Both were sentenced to seven years transportation at the 9 September 1789 Old Bailey Sessions. Butler was held in Newgate Goal until 11 November when she was embarked on the Neptune transport. About six weeks after arriving in the colony Butler married the First Fleet convict John Randall on 5 September 1790. He was an African-American from New Haven, Connecticut who worked as a game hunter around Sydney. The couple baptized three children: Lydia (1791-1793), Mary (1793) and John (1797). Randall received a 60 acre land grant in the Northern Boundary district in 1792 which he sold for 40 Pounds in 1800 and joined the New South Wales Corps. His wife Mary was buried on 29 July 1802.

    Michael Flynn,
    The Second Fleet; Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790
    ISBN 0 908120 83 4
    Page 187.

    • On Monday, April 11 1791 it is quite likely that John Randall set out with the Governor, and nineteen others on an exploratory expedition from Parramatta.
      Watkin Tench relates:


      A Contemporary sketch of Colbee (aka Cadi-Colbee).

      CHAPTER XIV. Traveling Diaries in New South Wales.

      "In April, 1791, an expedition was undertaken, in order to ascertain whether or not the Hawkesbury and the Nepean, were the same river. With this view, we proposed to fall in a little above Richmond Hill, and trace down to it; and if the weather should prove fine, to cross at the ford, and go a short distance westward, then to repass the river, and trace it upward, until we should either arrive at some spot which we knew to be the Nepean, or should determine by its course, that the Hawkesbury was a different stream. 1791. Our party was strong and numerous: it consisted of twenty- one persons, viz. The governor, Mr. Collins and his servant, Mr. White, Mr. Dawes, the author, three gamekeepers, two serjeants, eight privates, and our friends Colbee and Boladeree. These two last were volunteers on the occasion, on being assured that we should not stay out many days, and that we should carry plenty of provisions. Baneelon wished to go, but his wife would not permit it. Colbee on the other hand, would listen to [P.113] no objections. He only stipulated (with great care and consideration) that during his absence, his wife and child should remain at Sydney under our protection, and be supplied with provisions."


      A Contemporary painting of Boladeree (aka Boladerry and Balloderre).

      Source: Watkin Tench,
      A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson
      Page 52

  • On Sunday , 31th July 1791, at Parramatta;
    "There were two baptisms. Lydia, the daughter of John and Mary Randall, convicts, and Mary, the daughter of Anthony and Elizabeth Rope, convicts". Lydia died and was buried 13 th February 1793. Source: Collins.

  • On 14 th April, 1792, John formally finished his 7 year sentence but was obviously free well before this date.

  • On November 29th , 1792 John and Mary were granted 60 Acres of Land at Northern Boundary, the basic grant was 30 acres plus another 20 for being married plus 10 acres per child.(See Link): .The 1792 Land Grants at Parramatta

  • On March 2nd 1793 a child, Mary Randall was buried at Parramatta.

  • In October 1793, Collins reports;
    "Several instances of irregularity and villainary amongst the convicts occurred during this month. From Parramatta , information was received, that in the night of the 15th four people broke into the house of John Randall, a settler, where with large bludgeons they had beaten and nearly murdered two men who lived with him. The hands and faces of these miscreants were blackened; and it was observed , that they did not speak during the time they were in the hut. It was supposed that they were some of the new-comers, and meant to rob the house; and this they would have effected, but for the resistance which they met with from them. At this time seven of the male convicts lately arrived from Ireland, with one woman, had absconded into the woods. Some of these people were afterwards brought in to Parramatta, where they confessed that they had planned the robbing of the millhouse, the governor's, and other houses; and that they were to be visited from time to time in their places of concealment by others of their associates who were to reside in the town, and to supply them with provisions, and such occasional information as might appear to be necessary to their safety. They also acknowledged that the assault at Randall's hut was committed by them and their companions".

  • On December the 4th 1793, a daughter Mary was born to John and Mary. She was baptised on the 13th of January 1794 at St Johns Parramatta.

  • On the 9th November 1794 Mary (Mollie) Morgan, and John Randall and his wife were all reported missing from their homes. The Randalls short disappearance was not explained. Mary Morgan turned up in London aboard the ship Resolution. Source: Collins. Note: Molly Morgan first arrived in the colony onboard the Neptune with Mary (Butler) Randall in 1790.

  • On the 20 th June 1797 John T Randel (note spelling) son of John and Mary was baptised in Sydney. Born 28 th May 1797. Source: NSW BDM

  • In June 1799, John Randall was accused of the theft of plates and glasses from Government House . There is some confusion as to which Government House it was, Parramatta or Sydney. He was "forgiven".
    Source: NSW State Records Microfilm Reel 655/ page 83.

    (Friday June 7, 1799)

    "At an extra meeting of Magistrates commenced at the hour of 4 in the afternoon on Friday the 7th day of June 1799 for the special purpose of clearing the Gaols Report previous to the assembling of the Criminal Court tomorrow.

    The Judge Advocate
    The Rev. Richard Johnson

    The Gaol Report Produced

    John Randall (a black) was brought up charged on the oath of John Keys(?), Servant to His Excellency the Governor, with having on Wednesday Night in his possession sundry Plates and Glasses the property of his Excellency , which he was feloniously removing from Government house with intent to steal - and it appears from the testimony of said Keys that the prisoner was met by him between the door of the kitchen and the gate leading to the sentry box, and that on being questioned as to what he was about to do with the said articles Randall replied "Shifter Shifter. The fact was established but on sending to Government House for the plate and glasses the Magistrates understood they had been indiscriminately mingled with others of the same description and therefore conceived the evidence insufficient to send the prisoner before his County(?).

    Being further charged on the oath of William Nott a constable on duty at Government House with a similar attempt to make off with certain other glasses, to wit, 5 whole and two broken glasses, about the hour of ten at night after the former offence had been looked over , and which said glasses were found near the prisoner on the ground at the time the constable searched him.

    The Magistrates submit to his Excellency the propriety of ordering the offender such exemplary punishment as in his Excellency's wisdom shall seem most (appropriate ?).

    Saturday Morning,

    The Governor informs N. Dove that he had received a petition from black Randall (with) expressions of his sincere contrition. As the robbery attempt to be committed was upon him, He is willing to forgive him, if Mr. Dove would take the trouble to order him to be liberated.

    Nick. Dove Esq.
    Liberated accordingly".

  • In the 1800 Settlers Book, John Randall, a woman and three children were all on stores. He had four pigs and five goats, four acres planted and six to be planted. Two of the children would have been Mary, John T. Only two surviving children had been baptised to this date and the couple had only one surviving child on 29/11/1792 to claim the bonus 10 acre land grant. It is suggested that the third child is Frances. There is some question to the identity of her mother. One line of opinion suggesting that her mother was an aboriginal woman rather than Mary. The evidence is not conclusive!

  • In April 1800, "Catherine Murphy "late of Parramatta" stood charged with stealing a pound of tea and a pinafore from John Randall's house at Parramatta in February 1800. In his evidence Randall stated that Murphy had come to his house asking for liqour, he gave her a "... a gill of spiritous liqour", she drank that and asked for more, which he gave her. He then left his house to visit a neighbour, and about two hours later, Randall's wife left the house to look for him. According to their son, who was still in the house, "Kit Murphy" broke into his box and stole his run and the tea and pinafore. Catherine Murphy said in her defence that the tea was given to her by Randall, and that he had "... ill used her and had attempted to be carnally connected with her against her will". She called John Jennings, a constable at Parramatta, as a witness. He testified that he often saw the prisoner in the habits of intercourse with Randall and she was frequently at his house. Another witness gave evidence that about the time of her arrest, he was passing her house and heard her "… singing out, he went in and saw the Prisoner, with her hair hanging disorderly about her, her clothes torn. She said black Randall had been beating her and offering her tea to sleep with him". He saw a man running away, who may have been Randall, and stated that Murphy had been very ill used, as did Darcy Wentworth the surgeon, who found marks of violence on her thighs and knees. She was found not guilty of the charge". Source "A Desperate Set of Villains" by Barbara Hall, page 193.

  • On November the 10th, 1800, John Randall sold his Property at "Northern Boundary" (North Parramatta).
    Randall descendants are fortunate that one of the pivotal events in his life was recorded for posterity in the Journal of the Irish Revolutionary, "General" Joseph Holt, one of the more successful leaders of the ill-fated 1798 uprising of the "United Irishmen" in County Wicklow.

    Holt records that he was in conversation with Captain William Cox, of the NSW Corps (and later responsible for the first road over the Blue Mountains), who was his supervisor/employer. Although Holt was technically a convict, he worked on Cox's private estates at Brush Farm, as his estate manager and "superintendent of convicts".

    Holt relates:

    "In our conversation there, I saw a black man, of the name of John Randal, walking past the windows and I told Mr Cox who he was, that the said John Randal was sportsman to General Grose. He bid me go and see what he wanted. I walked out and asked him. He told me he had a farm to sell of sixty acres, and that he would sell it very cheap if I would give him a promise to get him in the choir. I told him to call next day, as I was busy at that moment. I returned in and told Mr Cox it lay one mile and three quarters from Mr Cox's estate. He says: 'If you like the farm for yourself, buy it. I am sure I can get him in the Corps, and you had better begin for your own family'. I made some remark to Mr Cox (which was my duty) that perhaps I had not as much money coming to me as would pay for it. He looked at me and said: 'If you buy as cheap for yourself as you have bought for me, it won't cost you much, and I will advance for you moneys. You get good value to the amount of five hundred pounds' and, looking at me very earnest, said: 'Holt I know you.' I answered and said I was very glad he did know me, for that gave me pleasure, so we took some more wine and water. He was a good soul over his glass.

    Next day John Randal came, and I went and viewed the farm. I liked it well, and another thing-it being so near me where I had every hopes that Mr Cox and I would continue together. I asked him the price. He tould me sixty pounds, and to engage him to get in the Corps. I told him that was more than I could do at present , but I told him I would give him forty pounds if I could get him in the Corps, and fifty if I could not get him in, and, if he wanted to come over, he should have my letter to the Colonel. This black played on the flute and tambour. He was about six feet high, well made and straight.

    I wrote to the Colonel in the most polite manner I was able to, and he received it in the most friendly tone and said, if he would perform his agreement with me, he would, on my recommendation, take him in the Corps. He returned and came to me with the answer. I told him I would engage to get him under pay. In three days after, I had got the conveyor of the Deeds and he desired me to get them ready. I came with Randal to Mr Cox's and showed the Colonel's letter, and Mr Cox said he would have the deeds on conveyance ready against ten o'clock. The next day the conveyance was made out in Hester Holt's name, as I was not free though no indent against me but, to stand full in law, she made the purchase. On the tenth day of November , in the forty first year of His Majesty's reign, the money was paid down and witnessed by William Cox, Rebecca Cox, James King. This Conveyance I have now in my possession in Dunleary (Ireland)".

  • On November the 17th, 1800, John joined the New South Wales Corps as a Private.

    Extract from "A Colonial Regiment: New Sources relating to the New South Wales Corps 1789 - 1810"
    Edited by Pamela Statham Published [Canberra] : P. Statham, c1992 {Available from ANUTECH, GPO Box 4, Canberra ACT 2601 Includes a biographical listing of every soldier who served in the NSW Corps from 1790 to 1800 (called the Register) as compiled from various sources by Sarah Jenkins, and a transcription of a book of accounts detailing the financial transactions of the Corps with its Army Agent in London from 1800 to 1805 (entitled the Ledger), introduced and transcribed by John Booker. ISBN 0646081101} Page 333

    Randall, John (also Reynolds) ex-convict black American, 5'9"
    born. New Haven, mentioned by Holt as buying into the regt. (here 1811)

    26-1-1788 Arrive Alexander
    29-11-1792 Grant 60ac N Boundary Farm
    17-11-1800 Enlist Sydney
    17-11-1800 Rank Private
    0-0-1800 Detach Townson
    0-0-1801 Detach Townson
    0-0-1802 Detach Townson
    0-0-1803 Detach Townson
    0-0-1804 Detach Townson
    0-0-1805 Detach Grosser
    0-0- 1806 Detach Grosser
    0-0-1807 Detach Grosser
    0-0-1808 Detach Grosser/Lewis
    0-0-1809 Detach 8 Co
    24-4-1810 Discharge

    John was in the Corps during the only two dramatic events that occured during it's existence. They were the convict insurrection at "Vinegar Hill" (5/3/1804) and the coup that removed Bligh ("Rum Rebellion", 26/1/1808). Analysis of the records of the Corps suggest that John was stationed at the Sydney Barracks. The "pay sheets" for the Corps are held by the Mitchel Library in Sydney. They record that John received an allowance for playing in the Corps Band for at least a year (1806).

    Townson was Captain John Townson. Grosser was Captain C. Grosser. They were the nominal Captains of the Company that JR was "detached" to in the Corps. Strangely enough Townson never actually seems to have reached New South Wales , but stayed at the Corps headquarters at Chatham (UK). Lewis was also a Captain, he arrived 25-6-1808. There were at various times four to eight separate companies in the "102 Regiment of Foot".


    The "Rum Corps" march from Government House on 25/2/1808 with the arrested Bligh. Randall may have been a member of the Band.

    All Corps members seemed to have been detached to a Company in early 1809 under the rebel administration. Macquarie arrived 28-12-1809 with his own Regiment (73 Regiment of Foot).

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.

Extract from the 1847  Galloway Survey  encroachment document for the Field of Mars Common. Third line down from top, text says: "Mary Martin daughter of Black Randall now a widow with twelve children".

Some false trails


It was thought that John sold up  his Sydney assets in about 1814, and then left for Georgetown in northern Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania), where he was appointed as a senior constable. A John Randall, Senior Constable was murdered there by a convict in 1817. It is now clear that this was another convict brought directly from England in 1816 on the convict transport Atlas 3.

This has been conclusivly proven by Elizabeth (Liz) Penprase, who is researching the convict victualing records from the Georgetown settlement.


The population of the colony in New South Wales were called in for a muster in 1811. John Randall's name and ship (Alexander, 1788) appear. However the existing printed copies of the muster have the word "Launceston" recorded in the column where other convicts had their place of conviction noted. This has been the basis for placing John in Tasmania at this date. While there is such a place in the UK, it has never been mentioned in any of John's conviction documents. These record the latter as Lancaster. It is suspected that this place name has simply been mistranscribed or misread from longhand at some stage as "Launceston".

This would place John in Sydney in 1811 not Tasmania.

Note: Georgetown is near Launceston in Northern Tasmania.

Reference: "General Musters of New South Wales, Norfolk Island, and Van Diemens Land 1811" Page 105,
Edited by Carol J.Baxter, Published Stdney 1987 by ABGR and Society of Australian Genealogists. ISBN 0949032050

John Randle, Alexander 1 also appears in the Muster of 1814. He is number 4974 and is listed as being a Landholder and as being "off stores".

Reference: "General Musters of New South Wales, Norfolk Island, and Van Diemens Land 1814"
Edited by Carol J.Baxter, Published Stdney 1987 by ABGR and Society of Australian Genealogists . ISBN 0949032034

Other evidence to the contrary

The murder in Georgetown was big news within the colony in 1817, with indepth reporting in both the Hobart and Sydney Government  Gazettes. The report of the Coroner is also available. Detailed discriptions of the wounds inflicted and the body are given.  Nowhere does it mention that the victim was a black man, Nor is there any mention of this fact at anytime during the trial of the murderers.

Another Theory

In a recent book chapter on John Randall, the Tasmanian Author Cassandra Pybus, argues that he married for a third time in the first decade of the Eighteen hundreds and fathered another four children  Two boys and two girls. It is suggested that the boys were drowned in a boating accident around 1818. A John Randall died in 1822 and another in 1833. There is no mention of "Black Randall" in any of the records concerning these incidents.

John T Randall

John's som John T Randall was probably a seaman/sealer. It was likely him reported in the Tasmanian musters and the arrival/departure reports in the Sydney and Hobart Gazettes in the late 1810's and 1820's.

John T Randall may have also been involved in the murder of some Aboriginal men and the abduction of their woman by sealers around what today is Albany, Western Australia, in 1826. The incident was reported by the officers of the HMS Success which arrived in the King George Sound shortly after it occured. (Section to be completed)

Reference: Fowler, R M, 1980; The Furneaux Group, Bass Straight, A History
Roebuck Society No 28 Canberra
ISBN 0 909434 20 4

Further traces of John Randall

In mid 1823, a Fanny Randall applied to the Native Institution asking that her two daughters, Eliza (born 1814) and Ann (born 1817), be admitted. Ann  was but Eliza was rejected because she was too old. Ann lived till 1904 and has left many decendants. She has been described as being "very dark" by one of the latter, a discription which suggests that perhaps her mother was black as well as her father. No clear record of Eliza's fate has been found.

"One girl student's history came to light after the children had left Black Town, and her background is particulary interesting. Her name was Ann Randall (Randal), and she was 'an African half cast [sic]'. Following her transfer from Black Town to Cartwright's care, it was ordered that she should be returned to her mother 'because of the injury sustained by the Aboriginal children from witnessing [her] vicious conduct'. She had been admitted to the Female Orphan Institution in August 1823 aged about nine years., and was said to be rather quiet and a good worker, who spelled and sewed well even though she suffered from ophthalmia.

Her grandfather (or possibly father) was John Randall, a First Fleet convict who arrived aboard the Alexander".


"The Parramatta Native Institution and the Black Town: A History"
By J. Brook and J. L. Kohen, Published by New South Wales University Press, 1991
ISBN 0 86840 284 2
Page 224.

To be completed:

Peter Coups married John Martin's and Mary Randall's daughter Hannah in 1830.
Their story is described in the following document.

Click Here: The Coups Creek at Fox Valley Normanhurst Sydney

Sections on the following topics will be added when time permits.

The Murder in Georgetown.

Randall descendants.

John Martin

Martin Descendants.


David Collins
An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales
Facsimile Edition 1971 of original from 1798.
Volumes one and two.
ISBN 0 7243 0003 1 (of two volumes)

Joseph Holt
A Rum Story
The Adventures of Joseph Holt: Thirteen Years in New South Wales (1800-12)
Edited by Peter O'Shaughnessy
Kangaroo Press: ISBN 0 86417 197 8

John Randall was my GgggggFather (Convict, Alexander 1788),
Mary Butler was my GgggggMother (Convict, Neptune 1790),
John Martin was my GggggFather (Convict, Alexander 1788),
Mary (Randall) Martin was my GggggMother,
Peter Coups was my GgggFather (Convict, Baring (2) 1819),
Hannah (Martin) Coups was my GgggMother,
George Watson (aka West) was my GggFather (Convict),
Adelaide (aka Lydia) (Coups) Watson was my GggMother

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