John Little


Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman City of Sydney 1842 1852

Family background

There were several persons named John Little in Sydney during the nineteenth century so the following information is speculative.

John Little was probably born in Sydney in 1816, son of Arthur Little (died 1862, aged 75) and Mary. A sister Eleanor was born in 1818. In 1825, Arthur Little, a convict, applied for permission to marry, using the name Archibald. His wife was Mary Norman, whom he married at St Phillip’s Church of England in 1825. She was probably the mother of his two children and had at least one other child, Elizabeth born in 1813, whom Arthur Little adopted. In 1836, John Little married Mary A Cracknell (1817–87) daughter of James and Margaret Cracknell. Their offspring included Emma J (1838), Archibald (1840), and John (1844). John Little died at sea in 1848.

Occupation & interests

Arthur Little, the possible father of John, was a convict from County Armagh in Ireland who had been sentenced to life in 1810, aged 23. He arrived in Sydney on the Providence from Cork on 2 July 1811. He soon became a land-owner at Minto, NSW, with several assigned convicts. He received his conditional pardon on 11 March 1830. On his death in 1862, his property was valued at ₤55 000.

On 3 July 1835, his son John Little acquired the license to the Birmingham Arms, on the corner of Clarence and King Streets. In 1839, this license was granted to his father Arthur Little. Also in 1839, Arthur Little acquired land. From 4 July 1837, John Little was publican of the White Hart, also on the corner of King and Clarence Streets, and in Council’s Brisbane Ward. In July 1842 he advertised his licensing hours until 9pm, which were extended in July 1843 to 10pm.

In January 1844 Mrs John Little of the White Hart advertised for a nursemaid, presumably for her newborn son John. John Little senior was Steward of the Anniversary Dinner at the Royal Hotel in January 1842 and in October 1842 was requested by fellow ratepayers to stand for Brisbane Ward.

On 26 September 1843, Alderman Little achieved notoriety when he and the insolvent former Alderman John Jenkins Peacock were arrested for an attempted duel over financial matters. Mayor Wilshire bound them over to keep the peace on sureties of ₤50 each. The Sydney Herald article described them as a pair of donkeys who should have been tied together and ducked. On 1 July 1844 Little sold the White Hart Inn to Mr Speers. The license was transferred on 22 August to a G. Ashton. Also in August 1844, John Little advertised his household furniture for sale.

Local government service

John Little was elected a Foundation Councillor for Brisbane Ward, 1 November 1842 to 31 October 1852. He was a member of several committees including Market Regulations, City Lights, and Works Committee. He was responsible for raising the wages for council workers and reducing the price of water supplied from Hyde Park.


Society of Australian Genealogists: Convicts to NSW

State Records of NSW: Bounty Index Reel 1306; Publicans Licenses; Col Sec re Land

‘Messrs Little and Peacock’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 1843, p. 4,

‘Local Intelligence’, Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, 23 December 1848, p. 2,

The Age 16 November 2003, (re: William Thorne, husband of Elizabeth Norman, who was the step-daughter of Arthur Little)


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