Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Easty (?–?)

by G. D. Richardson

This article was published:

John Easty (flourished 1786-1793), marine, was a private soldier in the marines for ten years and ten months, beginning at latest in January 1784. He probably served in France and Spain before being sent to New South Wales as one of the marine detachment in the First Fleet. Easty was appointed to Captain-Lieutenant Meredith's company on 4 November 1787. He carried out the normal duties of a marine, committed the typical military crimes of his kind, and endured as a matter of course the hardships and punishments, including a flogging in March 1788 for bringing a female convict into the camp. In December 1790 he was a member of two punitive expeditions sent against the Aboriginals around Botany Bay. Easty returned to England in December 1792 with the last detachment of marines to leave Sydney and rejoined his division at Portsmouth on 24 May 1793. On 15 September 1794 he entered the service of Waddington & Smith, grocers, in London; he was still employed there in November 1796 when he petitioned the Admiralty for compensation for short rations supplied in New South Wales.

Easty's chief importance lies in his diary which covers the period from November 1786 to May 1793. This is a rare contemporary account of the first settlement in New South Wales as seen by the ordinary soldier, although some of it was hearsay and some was written long after the event. Easty was an experienced and competent marine but had very little formal education. He was compassionate and sentimental, unimaginative, with an uncomplicated patriotism and a soldierly pride in his corps. His religion was a simple Protestantism with Evangelical leanings. He was unmarried while in New South Wales but had relatives in England.

Select Bibliography

  • John Easty, diary and papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Additional Resources

Citation details

G. D. Richardson, 'Easty, John (?–?)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 21 April 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

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