Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Turnpenny Altree

First Fleet Surgeon

John Turnpenny Altree was born at Wolverhampton in 1736. He resided at Westminster with his wife Sarah when their daughter Mary was born in 1762.

He was employed as assistant-surgeon to the Lady Penrhyn on the voyage of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788.

Illness before Departure

John Turnpenny Altree became ill in March 1787 while the ship still lay at anchor and was unable to tend to the female convicts as they came on board.

Governor Phillip wrote to Under Secretary Nepean (London) 18 March 1787. There is a necessity for doing something for the young man who is on board that ship as surgeon or I fear that we shall lose him, and then a hundred women will be left without any assistance, several of them with child. [3]

John Altree was taken on shore to Ryde at the Isle of Wight to recover where he was visited several times by Lieutenant Collins and Arthur Bowes Smyth. [4]

Magnify the map above by scrolling then click on the ship icons to read accounts from First Fleet Journals. Each of the eleven ships is represented by a different colour. Select the orange ships to read excerpts from the journal of Arthur Bowes Smyth. Enlarge the map using the icon on the top right. Select here to find out more about this map

John Turnpenny Altree's Service

Governor Phillip to Under Secretary Nepean (Per Dutch snow Waaksamheyd)
Sydney 21st March 1791

This will be delivered to you by Mr. John Turnpenny Altree, who came from England in the
Lady Penrhyn transport with the First Fleet.

During the passage out he assisted in the attendance of such convicts on board the ship as required medical treatment, and has been since that time employed at Norfolk Island by Mr. King, the late commandant, and by the Lieutenant-Governor as an assistant to the surgeon there, and in clearing and cultivating the land, in which line he conducted himself, as far as I am informed, to the satisfaction of those who employed him, until he left the island, for which services he has never received any compensation except twelve pounds, which, since his arrival here, I have directed the Commissary to pay him.

What his future views are he can best explain. He wishes to return and the character given of him by Lieutenant King and Captain Hunter inclines me to wish he may succeed. He will, I presume, be thought to merit some little recompense for the time he was on Norfolk Island, and his demands will not, I believe be very great.

He was in the militia as lieutenant and surgeon's mate, and wished to be received here as a subaltern in the New South Wales Corps.....A. Philip
. - [1]

Return to England

John Turnpenny Altree returned to England in 1791....

Governor Phillip to Secretary Stephens
Sydney 13 March 1791 (Extract),

........Richard Ayley (Alley) and Lieutenant Thomas Edgar who were sent out in the
Lady Juliana, transport, and Mr. John Turnpenny Altree, who came out as surgeon in one of the transports that left England in May 1787, and who has been since employed at Norfolk Island, return to England (in the Dutch snow Waaksamheyd in 1791) [2]


John Altree died 11 May 1798 and was buried at St. Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton, England


[1] HRA., Series 1 Vol., 1 p. 258.

[2] HRA Series 1 Vol 1., p.254

[3] HRA, Vol 1, Part 2, Governor Philip to Under Secretary Nepean 18 March 1787 p.59

[4] Journal of Arthur Bowes Smyth 6 April 1787