John and Martha Love

John Love was born in about 1732. He was possibly a member of the 55th Regiment of Foot that was involved in the French and Indian War, which occurred between 1754 and 1763. This could explain why he did not marry Martha Searle Merriman until 1787. Martha Merriman is possibly the Martha Merriman, daughter of Richard and Anne Merriman, who was baptised on September 4th 1748 in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England. Her first husband may have been Roger Searle, who died on board the Royal George in 1782 when the boat sank in Portsmouth harbour.

French and indian war map.svg

The French and Indian War (1754–63) pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, each side supported by military units from the parent country and by American Indian allies. At the start of the war, the French colonies had a population of roughly 60,000 settlers, compared with 2 million in the British colonies. The outnumbered French particularly depended on the Indians.
John and Martha Love arrived in Sydney aboard the ‘Matilda’, a boat of the Third Fleet. The ‘Matilda’ sailed from Gravesend to Portsmouth on February 18th, to collect her convict passengers, and arrived in Sydney on August 1st, 1791. Records of military passengers and their families on these early transport vessels are patchy and while John is listed in the records of the Third Fleet and Martha appears in some listings, it is unclear whether Elizabeth was born in England or born in the colony. The 1828 census sites Elizabeth as being 37 years old and born in the colony., giving her a date of birth of 1791. However her headstone details show her date of birth as 28 January 1785 and her date of death as 3 March 1878, aged 93.
From the “Matilda’s” log:

On Monday, the 1st of August, the ‘Matilda’ arrived in Port Jackson, after an extraordinary passage of four months and five days from Portsmouth; having sailed from thence on the 27th of March, with four sail of transports, with whom she parted company that night off Dunnoze. (English South Coast) Another division of the transports had sailed a week before from Plymouth Sound. On board the ‘Matilda’ on arrival were two hundred and five male convicts; one ensign, one serjeant, one corporal, one drummer, and nineteen privates, of the New South Wales corps; and some stores and provisions calculated as a supply for the above number for nine months after their arrival.

The master of this ship had anchored for two days in a bay of one of Schoeten Islands, (off the east coast of Tasmania, south of Freycinet Peninsula) distant from the mainland about twelve miles, in the latitude of 42 0 15′ S; where, according to his report, five or six ships might find shelter. Those who were on shore saw the footsteps of different kinds of animals and traces of natives, such as huts, fires, broken spears, and the instrument which they use for throwing the spear. They spoke of the soil as sandy and observed that the ground was covered with shrubs resembling those found at Sydney.

The convicts in this ship, on their landing, appeared to be aged and Infirm, the state in which they were said to have been embarked. It was not, therefore, to be wondered at, that they had buried twenty-five on their passage. Twenty were sick and were immediately landed at the hospital. Fifty-five of the convicts brought in this ship, selected from the others as tanners and artificers, were sent up to Parramatta; of the remainder, those whose health would permit them to go were put on board the ‘Mary Ann’, together with thirty-two convicts of bad character from among those who came out in the preceding year, and eleven privates of the New South Wales corps. On the 8th, the ‘Mary Ann’ sailed for Norfolk Island.

Paraphrasing from “A Family Began With Love”:

With the arrival of the Third Fleet, the population of the colony had grown to a couple of thousand people and the settlement occupied an area of 3 acres. John Love was a private in the NSW Corps, who was promoted to Corporal on 25 March 1791 and then to Sergeant on 27 June 1791. In 1799 John Love was a Private in Colonel Francis Grose’s Company of the NSW Corps.

In 1794 John was granted a lease on a parcel of 30 acres of land at The Ponds, directly across the river from Camden Park, the property of John Macarthur. This original property was “Richards Farm” Portion 108, Parish Field of Mars. The Ponds Walk recognises the early settlers of the Dundas area, with John Love’s portion shown on the brochure advertising the walk.

On March 14, 1795, he was given a further 90 acres at North Brush Portion 54, Parish Hunters Hill (now the site of Eastwood Railway station).


In 1798, John Love was taken to court for refusing to pay back a debt. In the book, “Debt, seduction and other disasters, the author Bruce Kercher says Love owed a Mr Baker some money, and was taken to court. but that Love refused to pay back the money on the grounds that he was a soldier.” The NSW State Records for the Bench of Magistrates for July 21, 1798, notes the following…

John Love who had treated the Summoning Officer with Insolance when he served a summons upon him from this Court, and had refused to obey such summons, alledging that he was soldier appeared to answer to the matter in question, and n consequence of his continuancy and his general bad character (as imparted by Major Foveaux and others) was sentenced to receive 50 lashes, to be imprisoned one month, to find functions for his future good behaviour and to pay Baker the balance of his wheat.

There is a side note to the record which says the sentence was remitted (pardoned) on July 27, 1798, through the interception of William Balmain, Esq.

This particular incident may help explain why he was discharged from the NSW Corps on July 14, 1798, and then later re-enlisted as a Private in the Col. Francis Grose Company of the NSW Corps (as noted by the 1799 Muster Records.

John also purchased land at Seymour Farm, Redbank (Thirlmere, 50 acres in 1805) and a further 45 acres at Upper Minto (now Mount Annan) on the Nepean River, adjoining the farm of John Hore.

In common with other members of the NSW Corps, the “Rum Corps”, Love was also probably involved in the production of rum, or at least some form of alcohol, as on Monday, June 4 1806, he was arrested and fined one-hundred Spanish dollars (one of the currencies in use at the time) after the discovery on his property at the “Field of Mars” of a still and other apparatus for distilling liquor. The incident was reported in the Sydney Gazette of Wednesday, June 6 in these terms…

“On Monday, in consequence of a like information, several Constables were sent to search for a still and other apparatus on the farm of J. Love at the Field of Mars; from whence a large boiler was produced, supposed to be for the purpose of distilling. The owner was in consequence ordered to find bail for his good behaviour.

On Saturday, April 23 1814, the Sydney Gazette reported, John was amongst those responsible for the apprehension of a Mr Harrison, a deserter from the 73rd Regiment…

On Monday last a party of three persons, consisting of Mr. Scott, settler and district constable at the Cow Pastures ; another constable ; and Mr. Love, a settler formerly of the Field of Mars, went out in search of Scott’s horse, which had beep three days missing from its tether; and about 5 miles west of the Cow Pasture river found the horse safely tethered near a clef rock, on entering which they found a man with two muskets in his possession; and as they shewed a determination to apprehend him, he yielded, and informed his captors that a little further west there were some others to whom he would conduct them. This information induced them to proceed thitherward, and having advanced about two miles, saw at a distance a number of men, supposed frtom eight to ten, all armed, and not deeming it prudent to approach near, they retired, taking with them their prisoner, and a mare of Mr Uther’s, together with a horse that had been stolen from Mr Loughlin, a settler, both of which they found tethered close to each other, and licence led them to conclude, that the armed men had removed from the sport where the horses were on their approach. Mr Uther’s horse, and Loughlin’s mare were tethered the same night close to Scott’s horse at the Cowpasture River; but we are sorry to add the next morning both were gone from their fastenings. The apprehended person who was delivered up as a prisoner to the Magistrate of Liverpool, proves to be a deserted from the 73rd, named Harrison, and by whose account the banditi consists of 17 men.

In August 1814, Court of Civil Jurisdiction ordered that the Seymour Farm had to be sold to recover debt…

“Ex parte William Packer, in the matter of Joseph and John Love: Pursuant to an Order of the Court of Civil Jurisdiction, ande in the above matter, the Provest Marshal will cause to be set up for sale by public auction at the Market Place, Sydney, on Thursday the 25th instant at Twelve o’clock, a certain farm and lands, called Seymour’s Farm; containing 80 acres, more or less and situated in the Field of Mars (unless the Debt Costs and all incidental expenses are previously liquidated.) Wm Gorr, Provest Marshal”.

Fortunes changed for John and Martha when John was sentenced to Newcastle Penal Settlement for cattle stealing on 31 December 1816. John and Martha eventually settled in the Appin district, raising cattle.

Martha died at Appin on 28 November 1822, aged 74 and was buried at St Luke’s Church in Liverpool. John died on 4 January 1827 aged 95 years and was interred at St Phillip’s Church, Sydney.

John and Martha appear to have had 4 children: Elizabeth born 1785, Joseph born 1793, Robert born 1795 (possibly died as an infant) and Mary born 1799.

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