Simon Burn (c.1754–1794)

SIMON BURN was a First Fleet convict. He was a stocking weaver by trade but was tried and convicted alongside JOHN HAYDON on 11 August 1783 at Exeter, Devon, England. Initially, he was sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to seven years transportation to America. When a convict mutiny occurred en route to America per Mercury (1784) BURN was among those recaptured at Torbay by HMS Helena and returned to Exeter Gaol. He sailed with the First Fleet per Friendship (1788) on 13 May 1787.

In the colony he married fellow First Fleet convict FRANCES ANDERSON (aka FRANCES HAMILTON) per Lady Penrhyn (1788) and was placed in charge of a gang of labourers. In 1791 he became a settler with a 50-acre land grant at Northern Boundary Farms. However, in early October 1794 SIMON was murdered whilst being a good samaritan. He had come to the aid of a woman being abused by her partner, a butcher named JOHN HILL, who was BURN’s neighbour and had harboured ill-feelings towards BURN. HILL was executed for the crime and his body was dissected.

Related Content

The Killing and Keening of Simon Burn (2020)

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Abstract: This murder tale takes us back to a time when the sounds of Gaeilge (Irish) were a common part of the soundscape of Old Parramatta in Burramattagal Country. But it was not just the Irish language that was heard here. Other Irish sounds were imported into the colony, too. When the emancipated First Fleet convict Simon Burn was murdered in October 1794, haunting death wails enveloped him as they lowered his body into the earth. These eerie, unbridled sounds, “an caoineadh” (the keening), came from a part of his widow’s soul that was far older than her corporeal self: they were the cries of the bean chaointe (keening woman), who had been singing her sorrow in lamentation for the departed, betwixt and between the worlds of the living and the dead, since time immemorial. Hers was the voice of the goddess Brigit, the Bean Sí (Banshee), and all the women who had ever mourned. Read more>>



# First Fleet

# Convict

# Trial Place: Exeter, Devon

# Sentence: Death (commuted)

# Punishment: Seven Years Transportation

# Ship: Friendship (1788)

# Settler

# Murder victim

# Burial year: 1794

# Grave: unmarked