Early history of the Irvine name in NSW & van Diemens Land
(& Irving, Irvin, Irwin, ...)

This site, which is far from complete, has been built with three aims: to assist those in Australia with their Irvine ancestral origins; to link with genealogists in England, Ireland and Scotland wishing to trace Irvine families that emigrated from those countries in the early-19th and late-18th centuries; to assist me make contact with others who know more than I do.

The site contains all information that I have gathered, for the first 40 years of the NSW colony (including van Diemens Land which was under the administration of NSW), on the name Irvine, Irvin, Irwin, Irving, Irwine, Erwing, Erwine, Erwin and Ervin taken from the early records (and, more recently, from correspondence generated by the website).

It is hoped that contributions from readers (by way of corrections and additions) will lead eventually to a comprehensive historical document. Please email such contributions to Richard Cowan (a descendant from the Charles Irvine who arrived in Sydney aboard the Telegraph in 1853) on rcowan@mail.usyd.edu.au.                       Last update .....June, 2010.

Arrivals in the early years of NSW, 1788-1828:


  • [0] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
  • [1] 1800-02 Muster and Lists: NSW and Norfolk Island
  • [2] The 1805-06 Muster of NSW and Norfolk Island
  • [3] General muster of NSW, Norfolk Island and van Diemens Land, 1811
  • [4] General muster of NSW, 1814
  • [5] Parish record of St Phillips C/E, Sydney
  • [6] Parish record of St Johns C/E, Parramatta
  • [7] Parish record of St Matthews C/E, Windsor
  • [8] 1828 Census of NSW
  • [9] The crimes of the first-fleet convicts. by J. Cobley
  • [10] Register of Pioneer Families. by The 1788-1820 Pioneer Association.
  • [11] The Pioneer Register  (6 vols) by C.J.Smee and J.S. Provis
  • [12] Land Grants: 1788-1809 by R. J. Ryan
  • [13] The convict ships, 1787-1868 by Charles Bateson

Notes: TL = ticket of leave    CF = Certificate of Freedom

1788: John Irvine (b c1760 [11]) was convicted of larceny in Lincoln on 3/6/1784 and sentenced to 7 years. He stole a silver cup from a widow in Grantham [9]. John was transported to NSW on the First Fleet of 1788. His profession, unusual amongst convicts transported, was listed as "surgeon". He is mentioned in [13] in the context of the First Fleet: "As there were only 5 surgeons, a convict bred to surgery, John Irving, was placed on the 6th vessel, the Prince of Wales, to care as best he could for the prisoners in that transport." Governor Arthur Phillip, in office from 1788-1792, pardoned one John Irving and granted him 30 acres of land in Parramatta on 22/2/1792 [12]. By 1800-01, this land had passed to another owner (James Williamson) and John Irving was dead [1]. Indeed John died on 3/9/95 at Parramatta [11] and was buried on 13/9/95 [6,10]. On 17/1/96, his son, John Hamilton Irvin, was born to Ann (née Marsh) [10] at Parramatta [6]. More on Ann, John and their son, John Hamilton.

1790: There were no Irvines (nor others spelt with "Ir" or "Er") on the 2nd or 3rd fleets.

1798: A James Irvin (or Irwin) was sentenced to life on 23/5/1798 at Brunswick and transported on the Minorca  in 1801 [3, 17]. He was still alive in 1811 [3]. A James Irvine (almost certainly the same man) was a convict on Norfolk Island from 9/1/1802 but listed as "departed on 26/6/02" [1]. In 1814, a James Erwin, who had arrived on the Minorca, was a convict assigned to Henry Kable at Windsor [4]. He was pardoned  before 1819 [17]. In 1823-25, he was a labourer at Wilberforce [16]. The 1828 Census lists a James Irvine without an age (who might be this one) [8] and there is a death of a 62-year-old James in 1831 at Windsor [7] (with a second registration, or more likely, another man - the 1817 James - with the same name and age, at Liverpool).

1800: John Irvin? is listed as a convict servant to Thomas Moore in July, 1800 [1]. It is likely that he was the same man as the John Erwin who died at Parramatta in 1826, aged 46 [0, 6], because, if not, there is no other registered death up till 1849 that could be him. Nor is there another candidate.

1800-02: There are no other relevant "Irv" or "Erv" entries, apart from those cited above, on the 1800-02 muster [1].

1805-06: The only new reference in the 1805-06 muster is Joseph Erwin, an arrival on the Royal Admiral 2 and "prisoner" at Parramatta. The registered death of a Joseph Irwin, aged 45, in 1832 might be the same man -- as the only other Joseph I have found to 1828 (see 1827) lived beyond 1832.

1809: In April 1806, Ormsby Irwin was sentenced to Life at Cork and shipped aboard the Boyd [3] on 14/8/1809. Eleanor Irwin (at least she was called Irwin by 1811 and perhaps had that name when migrating, though her maiden name was Connor) also travelled "free" on the same vessel [3,11]. Both were alive in 1811, Ormsby a convict and Eleanor listed as free. The births of William Irwin and Catharine Irwin (father Ormsby, mother Eleanor) were recorded in 1809 [5] and 1812 [7] respectively. An Eleanor Irving (from the Boyd) was "in gaol" at Parramatta in 1814 [4] having been indicted, along with Ormsby, for the murder of Sergeant Robert Morrow on 9/7/14 [15]. The sequel.

1809: James Irwin (Irvin?) was sentenced to 7 years at Lancaster in Oct 1809 and shipped on the Indian [3], arriving 16/12/10 [19]. A James Erwin, aged 40, has a registered death in 1812 at Windsor [7]. There seems no other James who might have died in 1812.

1809: Maria Erwin (Irwin?), convicted in March 1808 in Dublin [18] arrived  per Experiment in 1809. A Maria Irwin made a written request dated 28/2/1811 for permission to marry a William Lewis (at the Hawkesbury)  [15]. She is mentioned (as "Maria Irving") in 1814, being a convict from the Experiment 2 and the wife of W. Lewis at Windsor [4].

1810: John Irving arrived as a free man [15], as seaman on the Canada 2. By 1814, he was married to Mary Clark who had been a convict on the same ship [4]. It is likely that this man was the John Irving whose (by then widowed or divorced) wife Mary travelled from Sydney in 1824 to Port Macquarie to marry George Lewis  [15]. Lucy Irvine, listed as a "child of M. Clarke and in Sydney" in 1822 [14], travelled to Port Macquarie in late 1824 per Sally, presumably with her mother [15]. Lucy appears as a 15-year-old servant, in Sydney, in the 1828 Census [8], and born in the colony (so around 1813).

1811: All the relevant names on the 1811 muster [3] are mentioned above .

1811: Mary Irwin (or Irvin/Irving) arrived on Friends sentenced to 7 years (in Durham on 21/8/10 [18]). Sent from Sydney to Newcastle per Estramina in March 1812 for a new offence, her colonial sentence expiring in April 1813. After another offence, she is sent again to Newcastle in April 1814 [15].  By 1822, she is free and "wife of Mark"; in 1823-25, she is referred to as "washer woman wife of Mr. Lake" [14,16]. Both references cite Liverpool as residence. A marriage between Mary Irwin and William Lack in 1821 is registered [0] and there are letters in Oct 1823 of Mary's requesting permission [15]. Somewhat puzzling is a date of her CF of 21/3/28 [23], but there is reference there to an earlier CF. Indeed, she writes an affidavit on 30/8/22 stating the loss of an earlier CF [15]. Lack writes on 28/10/23 requesting permission for Mary to accompany him to Port Macquarie. Lack (aka William Hipkin) was off the Shipley in 1818.

1812: Sarah Irvine, a convict born in London (and convicted in London on 30/10/11 [18]), arrived per the Minstrel on 25/11/12. With her, as a "free" person, was her daughter Martha, born c1807 in London [11]. In 1814, Sarah Irving was listed as a convict in the "Factory" at Parramatta and having two unnamed children with her [4]. This family situation is clarified in the 1822 muster which, in addition to Martha, lists Mary Irvin (age 16, and "came free") as Sarah's daughter. By 1822, Martha was married to John Fullen (Follen, Fallen?) and Sarah to George Jones  [14, 11], Sarah by this stage being free. Indeed the 1822 muster shows that Sarah has a servant, coincidentally(??) one John Irvine, a convict off the ship Larkins (see 1817). (Was he related?) The 1823-25 muster refers to Sarah's husband as George Stanton [16].

1814: There are no other names of note in the 1814 muster [4].

1817: James Irwin arrived per Fame, sentenced to 14 years [14]. In 1822, he was an overseer with the Mt Horsley clearing party (near Liverpool), in 1823-25 [16], he was employed at Argyle by Mr Cordeaux and, in 1828, he was an overseer, aged 59, at Minto & Sutton Forest [8] (but with the wrong name and doubly-listed as "John Irvan/Irvine"). TL was granted on 4/1/29. In 1931, he was one of the two "James Irvines" who died aged 62 (probably the one at Liverpool) [0]. 
In 1817 also, a John Irvine/Irvin arrived on a 7-year sentence per Larkins. In 1822, he was a servant to Sarah Irvin in Sydney. By 1823-25, he had his TL and was employed by Captain Piper in Sydney [14, 16].
Reference [16] lists a John Irving who "came free per Canada in 1817" as employed by Mr. Underwood; there is a possibility that this is really the "1810 John".

1818: Richard Irwin, a man transported under the name "David Aston", arrived on the General Stuart. His CF is dated 7/4/25 under his Irwin name [23]. In December 1818, Lieutenant Irvine of the 87th Regiment, passing through Sydney, engaged in a horse race in Hyde Park [25]. He rode the commanding officer's horse "Tommy" against Lt. Metge's horse "Barney Bodkin". "Tommy" won the best of 3 races without need for the third race, but both races run were exceedingly close.

1819: John Irving/Irwin arrived with a life sentence per Daphne. In 1822 (and 1823-25), he was a servant to Thomas Galvin at Liverpool/Argyle [14, 16]. He was aged 40 in 1828, with his TL and working as a servant at Sutton Forest [8].

1820: Thomas Irvine/Irwin/Irwine arrived under a life sentence aboard Almorah. In 1822 (and 1823-25), he was working as a "govt. employee" in Port Macquarie [14, 16].
William Irwin arrived on the same ship (7-year term); he died in July 1825 at Hawkesbury [16].
Isabella Irving
also arrived in 1820 (3/5/20 in [11]), aboard Janus on a 7-year sentence imposed at her trial in Cumberland, England on 1/4/1819 [18]; she was employed at Melville by C. Erskine in 1823-25 [16]. She was given a conditional pardon on 6/4/26 [23].
Captain Francis Irvine
, wife Frances S. and daughters Eliza (age 4) and Mary (1) arrived as free settlers on the Lynx. He was a former Captain in the Bengal Native Infantry [15]. A son, Francis W. Irvine, was born in 1921 [0, 5]. The family settled at Elderslee, Minto [15] on land they owned, but returned to Scotland, departing on the ship Ocean on 25/2/1824 [16, 24] and [26, Feb 26, 1824].  Captain Irvine was a founding member of the Philosophical Society of Australasia in 1821-22 [15].  In 1860, Francis W. Irvine, the Sydney-born son, migrated from Scotland to New Zealand. An account [24] of this Irvine family, and their 150 descendants  in Australia and NZ, has been written by Dennis Wright of Melbourne (contact: info@irishtype3dna.org ).
John Irvine, a "gunner" crew-member on the Guide, is on board that ship when it departs Hobart for Port Jackson on 18th or 25th Feb 1820  [27]. Is he the 1810 John, now working again as a seaman?

1821:  A William Irwin, aged 20, dies [0, 5]. Could this be the 1820 arrival whom we think died in 1825?
John Irvine said to be leaving the colony on the ship Woodlark [26; 1 Dec 1821 & 8 Dec 1821]. Another impending departure of a John Irvine on Jane reported [26; 1 Dec 1821]. Same man perhaps?

1822: Sarah Irvin arrived with 7-year sentence per Mary Anne having been tried in Cumberland, England on 30/8/21 [18]. Initially she worked as a "Govt. servant to J. Robertson in Sydney" [14] and later in a factory at Parramatta [16]. She asked for permission to marry Thomas Wardle at Parramatta in August 1823, marries in 1823 [0] and, in 1825, they moved to Port Macquarie. Thomas had arrived per Isabella in 1818 [15].
Edward Irvine/Irvin
, convict on a 7-year sentence, arrived per the Mary and then on to Port Macquarie per Lady Nelson. He is listed as "govt. employee in Port Macquarie" in 1822 [14, 16]. By 1828, he (listed as Edmund Irving) is 31, free and working as a fencer, with no place of abode listed. Indeed his Certificate of Freedom (CF) came through on 3/7/28 [23]. He is reported to have died in 1832 [23].
A convict Daniel Irwin arrives in vDL on 30/4/1822 per Richmond (which left from Downs on 6/12/1821) [27] .
John Irvin, a "gunner" crew-member on the
Lord Hungerford, is on board that ship when it departs Hobart for Port Jackson on 3/1/1822 [26]. See 1820 and 1821.

1822: The muster of 1822 introduces us to no new names.

1823: John Irvin arrived per Recovery and became a stockman at Bathurst in November 1823 [15].
On the same ship, Thomas Irvine arrived and he too was sent to Bathurst; he became a shepherd at Caloolah until being sent for trial in 1824 for killing a calf [15]. He was listed as "in jail, to be tried", in June 1824 [16]. He gained his TL on 10/8/29 [23].

1823?: Isabella Irving (who arrived per Asia, according to [15]) married James Evans [0], having written for permission on 26/2/23 [15]. Reference [11] states that this Isabella was the "Janus Isabella" of 1820 (specifically 3/5/1820), that she was born c1790, that she married Evans on 24/3/24 at Castlereagh (but I think 1823 is correct on the other evidence), that they had one son and one daughter, and that Isabella died on 17/10/1835 at Nepean River (age 44 [0]). Sandra O'Donoghue (sandrasmail@optushome.com.au) has informed me that Isabella Evans is buried in the Castlereagh Cemetery, her headstone confirming the date of death mentioned above but giving her age as 45 years.
A convict Ann Irvin arrives in vDL on 5/10/1823 per Mary (1) (which left from London on 10 Jun 1823) [27] .

1824: A convict Joseph Irwin arrives in vDL on 27/7/1824 per Chapman (1) (which left from England on 6/4/1824) [27] .
William Irwin
, a seaman, departs Hobart for England on 13/6/1824 aboard
Guildford [27].

1825: James Irvin arrived per Henry Porcher on a 7-year sentence. By 1828, he was working in a road-gang at Parramatta, aged 20 [8]. He is in Iron Gang #9 in 1830, working on the road north at Snodgrass Valley, Mt. Manning and Gibber Gunyah [21]. CF given on 1/6/1832 [23].
James Irvine
, a free man, arrived in Sydney from Hobart aboard the ship St.Michael  [26, Nov 3].

1826: Thomas Irvin arrived per Boyne on a life sentence. In 1828, aged 27, he was a labourer at Dalwood [8].
Patrick Irving
arrives on the Regalia and is with Road Party #29 in 1828. His CF is dated 4/8/32 [23]. Madeline Ide provides a fuller story.
John Irvan (Irvine, Irving) travelled as part of the Royal Veterans Regiment to Van Diemens Land per John Barry, arriving there on 26/8/1826 [20]. This regiment was partly formed in NSW from volunteers and also from ex-army personnel in England. [20] says it is "not confirmed that he stayed in the colony". Trica Sullivan provides more information.
A convict James Irving arrives in vDL on 29 Apr 1826 per Woodman (which left from London on 06 Dec 1825) [27] .

1827: Matthew Irvine, labourer, aged 17, arrived per England in 1827 for a life term. In 1828, he is a labourer at Newington [8]
Richard Irving
, also aged 17 and in an iron gang at Baulkham Hills at the 1828 census, arrived per John (with 7 year sentence) [8].
Joseph Irving off the Manlius arrives and in 1828 is located in Sydney [8, 23]. On 5/5/31 he gained his CF, but after spending time in Adelaide, he was "re-transported" in 1841 on the William [23].
William Irwin
arrives per Manlius and gains his CF on 29/10/33 [23].
William Erwin arrives in vDL on 30 Nov 1827 per Asia (2) (which left from London on 13 Jul 1827) [27] .

1826-28: There were no relevant people in the parties from NSW which attempted (abortively) settlement in Westernport Bay in Victoria [22].

1828: Margaret Irving, aged 26 and a Sydney-based servant, arrived in 1828 per Elizabeth on a 7-year sentence (handed down at her trial in Dublin on 7/7/27) [18]. Her CF came through on 15/7/34 [23]. She married George Payne in 1929 [0].
Edward Irving
arrived off the Mangles and was located at Hyde Park Barracks in 1828 [8]. My earlier thoughts that he may have been a soldier were changed by [23], where the date of his TL is given (as 3/10/34).
A William Irwin, aged 50, dies [0]. It seems that he is the man mentioned (see below) in the 1828 Census.
A convict Janet Irving (aka Jess) arrives in vDL on 8/10/1828 per Borneo (which left from London on 11 May 1828) [27] .

1828: The NSW Census of Nov 1828 [8] introduces us to other people, not mentioned above.
James Irvine, with an iron gang and from the Hooghley (perhaps our "1798 James", if one discounts the discrepancy of ship). Late in the year [26; 3 Dec 1828], a James Irvine of the Iron Gang #10 appears on a list of absconded convicts.
James Erwin
, age 24, an arrival on the Henry Porcher with 7-year term, is labourer to J. H. Spearing of Illawarra.
William Irvin
, off the Mangles and is listed as a convict with Iron Gang #3 at Devines Hill [21].

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