CADMAN, John (1758-1848)

John CADMAN was convicted on 11th March 1797 at the Worcester Assizes for stealing a horse and sentenced to life and transported to NSW. He was transported aboard the ship “Barwell” which left Portsmouth 7th November 1797 and arrived in the colony on 18th May 1798. John received his “Conditional Pardon” on 31st January 1814 and an “Absolute Pardon” on 28th November 1821 from Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

He had worked on boats in England, so was put to work in the docks where he continued to work and became Principal Superintendent of Government Boats, which meant he was responsible for maintenance & availability of Naval Officers boats and any Government boats used by convicts for various activities and work on the harbour.

John was the Captain of the Governor’s barge. John married Elizabeth Mortimer were granted “Permission to Marry” on 16th October 1830. When she was widowed she moved to Nelson Bay Road (now Bronte Rd) Waverley and is reported to have been the first female to vote in the Waverley Council Elections in 1860.

Elizabeth Mortimer arrived in the colony as a convict, arriving on the ship “Competitor” in 1828. He lived with his family at The Rocks in a sandstone cottage built in 1818 (Now almost 200 years old) at number 110 George Street which is now known as “Cadman’s Cottage”. The home has been used for various other activities since then, by the Water Police, as a Sailor’s home, and now by Sydney Harbour National Trust as a Visitor’s Centre.

He died 12th November 1848 aged 90 years, leaving his wife and her 2 daughters, from a previous alliance.

CADMAN, John (1758-1848)

STANDING among Sydney’s gleaming glass and steel towers are relics of our convict past. One is a small sandstone house nestled in the Rocks, one of the city’s most historic precincts.

Known as Cadman’s Cottage, it was built in 1816 by convict workers as part of the government dockyard on the western side of Sydney Cove. Commissioned by Governor Macquarie, when it was built the cottage stood on a rocky shore with a small sandy beach. It was never meant to be anything more than the cottage of a dockyard supervisor and person in charge of the government ships at the dockyard.

Link to past : Cadman’s Cottage at The Rocks.

An artist’s impression of Cadman’s Cottage built in 1816.Cadman’s Cottage is nestled amongst Sydney’s glittering office blocks.

This person was a convict or ex-convict, so its design is simple and formal rather than ornate or decorative. It is a typical example of what ordinary, government-built cottages would have looked like at the time. Although it has been speculated that it could have been designed by ex-convict architect Francis Greenway there is no firm evidence of his hand in the project.

The name of the cottage comes from its best-known resident John Cadman, who lived there from 1827 until 1845, when he retired as government coxswain.
Born in 1772 in England, he was convicted of stealing a horse at Worcester in 1797 and sentenced to death, which was commuted to transportation for life. He arrived in Sydney on the Barswell in 1798.

An undated photo taken from the back of Cadman’s Cottage.

He obtained a conditional pardon in 1814, by which time he had impressed people with his knowledge of boats, earning a position as assistant coxswain. He received a full pardon in 1821, was master of the government cutter Mars in 1825 and was appointed coxswain at the dockyard in 1827, chief superintendent of government boats.

He held the position until Governor George Gipps’ term ended in 1845. Gipps left the colony in 1846, by which time Cadman had retired and taken up a new career as a publican at Parramatta. He died in 1847 and his epitaph on his tomb read, “Not at his age wishing to serve any other Governor”. The Water Police took over the cottage in 1846 and in 1865 it was acquired by the Sydney Sailor’s Home Trust John Cadman then acquired a ramshackle licensed bar in George Street, Parramatta, which he converted into an inn, the Steam Packet Hotel.

Cadman Cottage was later resumed by the Maritime Services until it was restored and became a tourism kiosk in 1972.


Named in memory of John Cadman the vessel was purpose built in 1989 in Tomago New Castle to Lloyd’s standards. The John Cadman III was built as the flagship vessel of Captain Cook Cruises. Becoming part of their fleet of 20 vessels John Cadman III has hosted hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors to Sydney Harbour.

Purchased in 2019 by Cadman Cruises the vessel has been repurposed to become a unique event space for private charters on Sydney Harbour.