Australian Dictionary of Biography

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David Dickenson Mann (1775–1811)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published:

David Dickenson Mann (b.1775?), clerk and author, entered the service of the Duke of Northumberland and in May 1797 transferred to the household of Lord Charles Somerset, younger son of the fifth Duke of Beaufort, as under-servant in charge of domestic affairs. On 21 September he was indicted for forging and uttering a false receipt for a sum of money due from Lord Charles to the household baker, Thomas Farmer, thereby defrauding both Somerset and Farmer, and was tried at the Old Bailey on 10 January 1798. He claimed that he had no intention of dishonesty, but had committed a great error owing to losses incurred through speculation. He was found guilty but his death sentence was commuted to transportation for life.

Mann arrived in Sydney in the Hillsborough in July 1799. He seems to have acted as a schoolmaster at Parramatta and in October 1800 he was appointed clerk assessor to the Naval Officer, to the Committee for the Erection of Jails and to the Orphan Committee, as well as having the duty of entering property agreements. On 13 September 1801 he married Elizabeth Wheeler in Sydney, and on 18 January 1802 he received an absolute pardon. In September the Orphan Committee allowed him 5s. a day for attendance on the committee and 2½ per cent for collecting money due to it. Mann was later employed at the secretary's office and in 1804 was directed to sign orders when Secretary William Chapman went on leave, though Garnham Blaxcell was officially acting secretary. In December 1805 he was dismissed from the secretary's office and twice announced that he was going to England. However, he remained in the colony, holding a fourteen-year lease of a house on the Government Domain, which Governor Philip Gidley King had given him in June 1804. In July 1807 Governor William Bligh ordered him to quit along with others occupying houses improperly granted within government reserves, a fact which made him sympathize with the rebels when Bligh was deposed. In July 1808 the rebel government appointed him a clerk in the commissary's office. When Colonel George Johnston left for England in the Admiral Gambier in March 1809, Mann accompanied him after his debts had been paid by the sale of his house to the rebel party. In 1811 he gave evidence at the court martial of Johnston and published in London The Present Picture of New South Wales, which he dedicated to Admiral John Hunter and illustrated with four large coloured views of Sydney by John Eyre and a plan of the colony. The book is a panegyric of Hunter's administration, but is most important as a statistical survey of the colony's development; it also suggests improvements to make it self-sufficient and less costly to the mother country. Nothing further is known of Mann's career.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 4, 6, 7
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 2-7
  • Proceedings of a General Court-Martial for the Trial of Lieut.-Col. Geo. Johnston (Lond, 1811)
  • Sydney Gazette, 29 Dec 1805
  • manuscript catalogue under D. D. Mann (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Mann, David Dickenson (1775–1811)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




1811 (aged ~ 36)

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: forgery
Sentence: life
Court: Old Bailey, London
Trial Date: 10 January 1798


Left the colony: Yes