Thomas Daveney (I) (c.1759–1795)

THOMAS DAVENEY is one of St. John’s First Fleeters. DAVENEY came to the colony as a seaman on board the First Fleet flagship HMS Sirius. In the colony, he was a free settler who was appointed superintendent of convicts at Toongabbie in 1791 to supervise the clearing of the land.


  • Alternate: THOMAS DAPHNEY
  • Alternate: THOMAS DAVENY


  • Born: High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, c.1759
  • Occupation: Able seaman, December 1786
  • Joined HMS Sirius: 30 December 1786
  • Sailed with the First Fleet per HMS Sirius: 13 May 1787
  • Arrived at Botany Bay per HMS Sirius: 20 January 1788
  • Arrived at Port Jackson per HMS Sirius: 26 January 1788
  • Superintendent of artificers: January 1788–March 1791
  • Appointed director of convicts employed in cultivation at Toongabbie: 1 April 1791
  • Married CATHERINE HOUNSON, Second Fleet convict per Lady Juliana (1790): 17 July 1791.
  • Son, THOMAS DAVENEY (II), born: 6 November 1791, Parramatta.
  • Son, THOMAS DAVENEY (II), died and buried: 26 November 1791, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta in a marked grave next to HENRY DODD.
  • Received 100 acre grant: Toongabbie, 1 April 1794.
  • Intervened in a brawl: Toongabbie, 31 July 1794. The brawl was between WILLIAM JOYCE, ex-convict and Chief Watchman at the Toongabbee Farm and JOHN LOVE, a private in the NSW Corps. Case pertaining to brawl dismissed by magistrates AUGUSTUS ALT, JOHN PALMER, and DAVID COLLINS.
  • Discharged as Superintendent of Convicts at Toongabbie by Lieutenant Governor FRANCIS GROSE following brawl for “behaving improperly and tyrannically”: 1794.
  • Died: 3 July 1795.
  • Buried: 11 July 1795, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta.

Burial Location

  • Unmarked grave, exact location unknown, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. He may be buried in or near the grave of his son, THOMAS DAVENEY (II), who predeceased him and was buried in Section 4, Row D, No. 5, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, right alongside another Government Farm Superintendent: Henry Dodd.


  • Spouse of CATHERINE HOUNSON, Second Fleet convict per Lady Juliana (1790)
  • Parent of THOMAS DAVENEY (II)


  • Artificer
  • Seaman
  • Public servant


  • Superintendent of Convicts at Toongabbie

Related Content

Thomas Daveney: The Tyrant of Toongabbie (2019)

By David Morgan

Abstract: “All of true blood, bone and beauty that was not murdered on their own soil or had fled to America or other countries to bloom again another day, were doomed to Port McQuarie, Toweringabbie and Norfolk Island and Emu Plain [sic].”— Ned Kelly. By 1879, when the bushranger Ned Kelly composed his ‘Jerilderie letter’ detailing his grievances against the police, Toongabbie had gone into folklore as one of the sites of the most brutal tyrannies of the convict transportation system. If that tyranny had a face, we could say it belonged to Thomas Daveney. An able seaman on HMS Sirius, he came ashore in Sydney in 1788 and was put in charge of the artificers—the tradesmen needed for construction in the colony. His appointment as the superintendent of convicts working at Toongabbie in 1791 is evidence of the faith Governor Arthur Phillip had in him. But three years later he was dismissed by Phillip’s temporary successor Lieutenant Governor Francis Grose, accused of having ‘improperly and tyrannically abused’ the confidence Phillip had placed in him. Within a year he was dead, having almost literally drunk himself to death. Read more>>


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

  • “DAVENY, Thomas (c1759–1795),” in Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p. 95.
  • Ron Withington, Dispatched Downunder: Tracing the Resting Places of the First Fleeters, (Woolloomooloo, The Fellowship of First Fleeters, 2013), p. 440.


# First Fleet

# Came Free

# Seaman

# Ship: HMS Sirius (1788)

# Burial year: 1795

# Grave: unmarked