Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Cadman (c. 1772–1848)

by D. I. McDonald

This article was published:

John Cadman (1772-1848), publican, was born in England. On 9 December 1797 at Worcester he was sentenced to transportation for life for stealing a horse and he arrived in Sydney in the Barwell in May 1798. He was employed by the government, first at Castle Hill and later, after a conditional pardon was granted in 1814, as assistant government coxswain. He received a free pardon in 1821. From January 1827 until December 1845 he was superintendent of government boats at Sydney and received a salary of £91. When that office was abolished in 1845 Governor Sir George Gipps recommended 'his great respectability' and arranged for him to be paid a retiring gratuity of £182.

Since 1816 Cadman had occupied a rude stone cottage which in 1966 was the oldest house extant within the city of Sydney. After his retirement the cottage became the headquarters of the Water Police and its former owner acquired a ramshackle licensed bar in George Street, Parramatta, which he converted into an inn, the Steam Packet Hotel. He died on 12 November 1848 and was buried in the old Devonshire Street cemetery. On 26 October 1830 Cadman had married Elizabeth Mortimer who, with her two daughters from a previous alliance, survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Old Chum (J. M. Forde), Some Fragments of Old Sydney (Syd, 1898)
  • Sydney Gazette, 18 Mar, 1 Nov 1820, 17 Feb, 23 June, 8 Sept, 24 Nov 1821, 3 June 1824
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 28, 29 Mar, 24 June, 29 Dec 1844
  • manuscript catalogue under J. Cadman (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

D. I. McDonald, 'Cadman, John (c. 1772–1848)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 30 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


c. 1772
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England


12 November, 1848 (aged ~ 76)
New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Passenger Ship
Convict Record

Crime: theft (livestock)
Sentence: life
Court: Worcestshire
Trial Date: 9 December 1797


Occupation: labourer