John Knatchbull

Naval captain, robber, murderer, writer
Arrived 1825 on Asia
Armed robbery was a relatively common form of theft for which convicts were transported. Despite being given a 14-year sentence for the crime, John Knatchbull could not resist the urge to reoffend.

John Knatchbull, a Royal Navy captain, was convicted (intriguingly under the alias John Fitch) in Surrey, England, of stealing with ‘force and arms’. He arrived in Sydney on the Asia in 1825. In 1832 he was charged with forging the signature of a judge, and sentenced to seven years on Norfolk Island. On his return to Sydney, where he was housed at the Hyde Park Barracks, Knatchbull pleaded with the Governor for his freedom. Not long after receiving his ticket of leave in 1842, he was charged with the murder of shopkeeper Ellen Jamieson during an attempted robbery. Again he was held at the barracks before being transferred to Darlinghurst Gaol, where he wrote his widely read memoirs. Knatchbull was hanged by executioner Alexander Green on 13 February 1844.