Eleanor McCabe (c.1763–1793)

Though ELEANOR McCABE was a First Fleet convict, transported per Lady Penrhyn (1788) and Prince of Wales (1788), and appears in the St. John’s parish burial register,  she is not buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. She is, however, the mother of the first person ever buried in the cemetery: JAMES MAGEE and was buried in an isolated grave on unconsecrated ground in the broader parish of St. John’s.

ELEANOR married fellow First Fleeter CHRISTOPHER MAGEE, also known as CHARLES WILLIAMS, who became the first person granted land in Camellia, to the amount of 30 acres (12 hectares). On 18 January 1793, a pregnant ELEANOR and her child MARY drowned in the Parramatta River near Breakfast Point along with a convict woman named MARY GREEN after a night of drunken, riotous revelry and a heated exchange between ELEANOR and CHRISTOPHER.

On 21 January 1793, ELEANOR’s husband buried his wife, unborn baby, and daughter MARY a few metres from the door of the family home rather than in the cemetery where their son JAMES was already at rest. Their headstone is still standing in the grounds of a factory at 1 Grand Avenue, Rosehill.


  • Alternate: ELEANOR M’CABE (c.f. Old Bailey trial record)
  • Alternate: ELEANOR MacCABE (c.f. Old Bailey punishment summary, September 1782)
  • Alternate: ELENOR M’CAVE (c.f. Arthur Bowes Smyth’s Journal)
  • Alternate: ELEANOR McCAVE (c.f. burial register)
  • Alternate: ELEANOR MEEGEE (c.f. burial register)
  • Alternate: ELEANOR MAGEE (married name)
  • Alternate: ELLEN MAGEE (c.f. JAMES MAGEE’s baptism record)
  • Alternate: ELINOR MAGEE (c.f. headstone at Camellia)


  • Married fellow First Fleet convict CHRISTOPHER MAGEE (aka CHARLES WILLIAMS): 31 August 1788, Sydney Cove, New South Wales
  • Son JAMES MAGEE born: c. November 1789
  • Son JAMES MAGEE baptised: 22 November 1789, Sydney, New South Wales
  • Son JAMES MAGEE died: c. 31 January 1790, Parramatta, New South Wales
  • Son JAMES MAGEE buried: 31 January 1790, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta
  • Daughter MARY MAGEE born: c. January 1791
  • Daughter MARY MAGEE baptised: 30 January 1791
  • ELEANOR, her unborn baby, and toddler MARY drowned: 18 January 1793, Parramatta River, Breakfast Point, New South Wales
  • ELEANOR, unborn baby, and toddler MARY buried: 21 January 1793, Magee Farm, Camellia, overlooking the Parramatta River, in the parish of St. John’s, Parramatta.

Burial Location

  • ELEANOR is not buried in the cemetery, though she appears in the St. John’s parish burials for 1793. ELEANOR’s husband, CHRISTOPHER MAGEE, buried ELEANOR, their unborn baby, and daughter MARY metres from his front door on his land grant. Their headstone is still standing on the banks of the Parramatta River in what is now the grounds of a factory at 1 Grand Avenue, Rosehill about 100 metres north of Camellia railway station.

Trial Records


  • Partner in crime: ANN GEORGE
  • Spouse of CHRISTOPHER MAGEE (aka CHARLES WILLIAMS), First Fleet convict
  • Mother of stillborn McCABE (died on Prince of Wales convict ship)
  • Mother of JAMES MAGEE
  • Mother of MARY MAGEE
  • Mother of unborn MAGEE


  • Hawker (c.f. Arthur Bowes Smyth Journal)
  • Prostitute


Related Content

The Wretched, Rascally and Depraved Magees, and the Story of St. John’s First Burial (2019)

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Abstract: Even a burial ground, where so many stories ended, has many beginnings. The story of St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta begins among knee-high native grass on ‘a gently sloping hill’ in the life-sustaining hunting grounds of the Burramattagal clan of the Darug people. It also begins with newcomers enclosing that once open space to preserve their cattle from wandering. Yet the story of this cemetery just as surely begins with its first burial; a tale for which three saints of London, St. John, St. James, and St. Giles, shall serve as our guides. The three saints will lead us to a plantation in the American colonies, a royal palace, and even among the ‘swarm[s]’ of ‘strumpets’—the ‘notoriously lascivious and profligate’ ‘ladies of the pavement’—on ‘Lewkner’s Lane.’ Read more>>


Eleanor Magee grave, Elinor Magee, Eleanor McCabe, Mary Magee, St. John's Cemetery Project, First Fleet, First Fleeter, Camellia, Parramatta, Old Parramattan
Close-up of E. W. Searle, “Wayside grave of Elinor Magee and two children, Parramatta, New South Wales, ca. 1935,” PIC P838/904a LOC Cold store SEA Box 7. Courtesy of National Library of Australia.


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources


# First Fleet

# Convict

# Trial Place: Old Bailey

# Punishment: Seven Years Transportation

# Ship: Lady Penrhyn (1788)

# Ship: Prince of Wales (1788)

# Burial Place: Camellia

# Burial Year: 1793

# Grave: marked