This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966
John Baughan (1754?-1797), carpenter, was convicted at Oxford, England, in 1783 as Baffen (alias Bingham and Baughan), and sentenced to be transported for seven years for stealing five blankets. He was in the Mercury bound for America in 1784 when she was seized by the convicts off Torbay; he was recaptured and held at Plymouth until transferred to the First Fleet transport Friendship.
On 17 February 1788 he married Mary Cleaver who had been convicted at Bristol in 1786. In 1791 he was granted fifty acres (20 ha) near Parramatta but did not settle there. In March 1794 the grinding mill which Baughan had erected in Sydney commenced operations; with nine men working its capstan bar, it ran so smoothly that sixty-three pounds (29 kg) of wheat were ground in seventeen minutes. James Wilkinson's mill near by, powered by six men who walked inside a massive wheel, commenced operations a month later; it was soon abandoned and Baughan was commissioned to replace it by another of his own design.
In recognition of his achievements as carpenter and millwright, Baughan was granted a small lease near Dawes Point. Here he erected and furnished 'a neat cottage', later acquired by Robert Campbell, and established an attractive garden. On 4 February 1796, overhearing himself being abused by a sentinel who apparently bore him an ancient grudge, Baughan slipped out of his workshop, collected his traducer's arms from his deserted post and handed them to the guard. The sentinel was immediately arrested. Next morning, as an act of reprisal, Baughan's cottage was stormed and extensively damaged by a military rabble. He and his wife 'suffered much personal outrage'. Governor John Hunter expressed himself so forcibly about this 'daring violation of the public peace' that the offenders, through Captain John Macarthur, expressed 'their sincere concern for what had happened' and agreed to indemnify the sufferer.
Although David Collins remarked on Baughan's 'sullen and vindictive disposition', he considered him 'an ingenious man'. He constructed efficient mills and neat dwellings and, until his death on 25 September 1797, officiated as foreman of carpenters in Sydney.
A. J. Gray, 'Baughan, John (1754–1797)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/baughan-john-1755/text1953, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 18 December 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966