St Chad’s Church, Rochdale, Lancashire
Bishop’s Transcript of Baptism on 12 Mar 1809: John Dearden, Son of Ann Dearden of Spotland Bridge, Single Woman & William Cunliffe the reputed father
Convict Ship Middlesex leaves England with 51st Regiment Guards on board
The Petition prepared by W N Clark for a partial remission of sentence [Perth Gazette 24 Mar 1846]
Headstone for John Cunliffe Dearden in East Perth Cemetery

Dearden’s Will dated 27 Jun 1844
NAME John Cunliffe DEARDENName variations: Deardon
Birth Date and Place23 Jun ? 1809 Spotland, Rochdale, Lancashire, England [EPCEM not verified].
1809 Spotland Bridge, Rochdale, Lancashire, England [FSLDS 004007129-202].
Baptism Date and Place12 Mar 1809 St Chad’s Church, Rochdale, Lancashire [FSLDS 004007129-202]. See sidebar.
Marriage Date and PlaceBefore 1833 Outside Australia [deduced].
SpouseMargaret WILKINSON [deduced].
ChildrenMaria b. 1833 Ireland [ERIC p.798 not verified].
Alfred b. 1838 Chatham, Kent [FSLDS 14693212].
Robert John b. 1841 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.26].
Elizabeth Cecily b. 1843 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.322].
James Joseph b. 1846 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.759].
Mary Ellen b. 1849 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg. 1258].
John Matthew b. 1852 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.1941].
OccupationsPre-1825 Weaver [WO12-6208-81].
Army Clerk 1840-1846 [WO12-6205-183].
Stone Quarrier – Government Contract Oct 1849 [TROVE].
Land Acquisition in WAPerth Town Lot Y23 1841 – Grant [TROVE].
Perth Town Lot NH 11 & 12 – Purchase [WASRO Cons.3403-1884-724].
Death Date and Place13 Jul 1884 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.12660].
Cause of Death: Senile Decay [EPCEM].
Burial Date and Place14 Jul 1884 East Perth Cemetery, Western Australia.
Roman Catholic Area, Gravesite #116 [EPCEM].
Death, Funeral, Obituary NoticesDaily News 14 Jul 1884 [TROVE].
Will and ProbateWill: 27 Jun 1844. Probate: 27 Sep 1884, Supreme Court of Western Australia.
[WASRO Cons.3403-1884-724]
Regiment51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding, The Kings Own Light Infantry) Regiment.
Soldier No. and Rank#486 Corporal [WO12-6202-3].
Promoted to Sergeant during Jan-Mar Qtr. 1843 [WO12-6204-252].
Attestation Date and Place20 Oct 1825 [WO12-6208-81].
Medals, Clasps and BadgesGood Conduct Badge 1d. per diem June 1837 [WO12-6200-71].
Arrival Australian State: Ship and DateMiddlesex Convict Ship.
Departed Chatham, Kent 4 Jun 1839 for Dublin & New South Wales [WO12-6201-205].
Departed Dublin 6 Jul 1839; arrived Sydney, NSW 25 Jan 1840 [DPS].
Re-joined 51st Regiment in Hobart February 1840.
Arrival Western Australia: Ship and DateRunnymede 25 Jun 1840 from Hobart [TROVE].
Military Postings within Western AustraliaClerk at Perth HQ from arrival at Swan River June 1840 to December 1846.
[WO12-6202-50 to WO12-6208-65].
Discharge Date and Place7 Jan 1846 Perth, Western Australia. Struck off strength [WO28-266-56/57].
Age at Discharge37 years [deduced].
Length of Service20 years 2 months [deduced].


John Dearden was a convict guard on board Middlesex under the command of Lieutenant Murray of the 50th Regiment, Ensign Scott of 51st, one sergeant and 26 other rank and file [Willetts].  Six of their wives and nine children were also on board and it is likely that Dearden’s wife Margaret and their two children accompanied him.

At least one source has given the impression that John ‘Deardon’ was struck off the regiment strength for stealing a kangaroo dog (bitch) and imprisoned [WHIT-STAT p.99]. in fact it appears from this advertisement (click here) that someone stole Dearden’s dog Chloe and he offered a substantial reward!

John Dearden was, however, convicted on a more serious charge at the Perth Quarter Sessions in January 1846 (click here for details). His sentence of seven years transportation was seen as harsh by a journalist, W N Clark, who raised a Petition for mitigation [Perth Gazette 28 March 1846 p.3]. Governor Andrew Clarke granted a conditional pardon on 9 April 1846 which reduced the sentence to five years hard labour in Fremantle Gaol [Perth Gazette 16 May 1846].

Records indicate that Dearden entered the Round House (Fremantle’s Gaol) on 26 December 1845, on remand prior to his trial. On 9 February 1849 he was sent to Perth. His hard labour in Fremantle Gaol was on the building of Fremantle’s jetties. [Errington May 2019]. In fact he assisted a fellow workman when an accident occurred while working on the blasting at the Fremantle Bar [Perth Gazette 20 Jan 1849]. A project to remove the bar at the mouth of the Swan River proposed in 1848 was strongly opposed by the people of Fremantle, who feared that it might lead to the shipping being taken to Perth. Nevertheless, an unsuccessful attempt to carry out the work was made the following year [HITCH p.33].

Dearden was released from gaol sometime prior to October 1849 when he won a tender to quarry 200 yards of stone for the government [Inquirer 17 Oct 1849]. This business was to become very nearly fatal to Dearden but definitely so for a Ticket of Leave man in his employ.  On 25 Feb 1852, Dearden and the TOL man William Sydenham were loading Dearden’s boat with stone at Bluff Point, Freshwater Bay, when many tons of rock fell and sank the boat.  Sydenham and William Campbell, an enrolled pensioner, who tried to save him, were drowned. Read about the accident here.