James Wright was born 1762 in London, England and died 15 March 1825 Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia of unspecified causes.

James Wright - convict on the Scarborough in 1788 (1st Fleet)

At the age of 21 James was charged with 3 counts of highway robbery in the Parish of Greenwich, Kent. in July 1783, in company with William Steel, he held up Sir George Farmer and others in Greenwich, relieving them of gold watches and chains. He was tried at the Kent Summer Assizes of 1783 in Maidstone, Kent. He was found guilty of on the 1st charge and sentenced to be hanged. This sentence was commuted to 7 years transportation to Africa. Convicts were not being sent to Africa, however. After 3½ years aboard the hulk "Censor" he was instead transported to New South Wales aboard the "Scarborough", arriving in Port Jackson in January 1788 as part of the 1st Fleet.

On arrival at Sydney, James Wright was employed as a baker to Governor Phillip. Then on 28 December 1790, Wright, together with Edward Jones (Alexander, 1788, 1st Fleet, 7 yrs, London) who was also working as a baker, Edward Bayles (Fleet unknown), and William Whiting (Alexander, 1788, 1st Fleet, 7 yrs, Gloucester), was taken to the guardhouse at 11pm by the watch. The next day they were charged with being up at an unreasonable hour and with creating a disturbance. James penalty was to forfeit two pounds of flour from the following week's ration. Due to food shortages in the Colony at the time this was not an insubsquential penalty.

In 1791 James was appointed as Government Baker at Parramatta. He continued to serve in this capacity for the next 17 years (till 1808). However he still continued to work as a baker in his own right, and is noted as a baker at Parramatta in 1816.

In addition to his bread-baking activities, Wright also kept a provisions store and became a publican. In 1804 James was leasing a town allotment in Parramatta for a Quit Rent of 10s per annum. He was a member of the Parramatta Loyal Association in 1805. In 1806 he received issues of beer at Parramatta. In February 1811 he received a spirit licence. In 1813 he had a wine and spirit license. In 1815 he is known to have kept a hotel in Parramatta.

Wright's first son, James, died as an infant and was buried in Parramatta on 8 July 1792. James and his wife Letitia Holland then had three surviving children. Letitia had arrived on the "Mary Ann" as Ann Guest in 1791. They married on 10 April 1810, 11 years after the birth of their last child.

James was himself the victim of a robbery after he had established a comfortable lifestyle for himself in the Colony. In January 1805 his house was broken into and sundry articles were stolen. The thief was caught and charged, but not all the property was returned. The loss of his silver pocket watch was advertised but did not lead to its recovery. One morning in May 1806 a customer went into his shop for a loaf of bread. When he complained of the delay Wright asked him the time. The man took out his watch to answer the question and Wright in "perfect astonishment recognised his property". The customer claimed he had purchased the watch, a detail later sorted out in court.

James petitioned Governor Macquarie for a land grant for a farm in 1820 stating that he already owned 6 head of cattle. He was granted 60 acres at Duck River, on the Parramatta Road that same year. He is noted in 1817, 1820 & 1821 as a landholder. By 1823 he had cleared 15 acres and had 12 of them under cultivation. He had also erected a substantial dwelling there for his family. It was a small mixed farm with horses, goats and hogs. He grew wheat, barley, fruit and vegetables and employed two men to assist with the work. In 1824 he again petitioned the Governor for land for a farm, stating that he owned 3 horses and 14 head horned cattle. Why he is noted as a landholder in 1817, and why he again petitioned for land for a farm in 1824 is unclear. In the 1825 census he is also noted as a householder in Sydney, which appears to be incorrect, especially as he died at Parramatta.

Following an illness lasting five months Wright died on 15 March 1825. His youngest daughter, Shepherdess, and his wife died in the following successive years and are buried with him.


Offspring of Letitia Holland and James Wright (c1762-1825)
Name Birth Death Joined with
James Wright (1792-1792)
George Wright (1794-1865) 1794 Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia 11 October 1865 Government Benevolent Asylum, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia Mary Tarlington (1800-) Mary Tarlington (1800-) Elizabeth Stewart (c1812-1872)
Jane Wright (1797-1851)
Shepherdess Wright (1799-1826)

Changes of surname by daughters:

  • Jane Wright married Capt. Thomas Raine
  • Sheperdess Wright married John Agland in 1820


Footnotes (including sources)

¶ Death
  • DIED.-On Tuesday last, after an illness of five months, Mr. JAMES WRIGHT, of Parramatta, in his 68th year. The deceased came to this Colony in the first fleet, and was the first baker in Australia, having served in that capacity under Governor Phillip. (Sydney Gazette, Thursday 17 March 1825)