Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
John Doody was sentenced to seven years transportation in London on 10 December 1788. He was transported in the Third Fleet aboard the ship Admiral Barrington, arriving in Port Jackson (Sydney) on 16 October 1791. Doody was soon assigned as servant to William Paterson who was to be in charge of the garrison on Norfolk Island, both men sailing to the island in November 1791. Doody also left the island with Paterson some 16 months later, on 9 March 1793.
While on Norfolk Island, a set of watercolour drawings depicting plants found on the island were prepared by Doody; these are accompanied by several pages of notes by Paterson. The drawings are contained in an album in the collection of the Mitchell Library, part of the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney. The drawings represent 48 species of plant found on Norfolk Island; all but three are indigenous to the island. The watercolours are well executed and are a very early and valuable record of the plants of Norfolk Island.
The drawings have been attributed to convict John Doody based on a letter from William Paterson to Joseph Banks on 12 December 1794. Paterson at the time was acting administrator in Sydney, a position he held from December 1794 to September 1795, prior to the arrival of John Hunter as Governor. In a postscript to the above letter of 12 December, Paterson writes:
“The drawings are done by a young man who came out in Barrington with me, a Convict, he has been my servant ever since & is known I believe to Mr Latham, to whom he has wrote, to any person collecting he might be made very useful; his name is Jno. Doody.”
The letter has been digitised and can be viewed on the State Library of New South Wales website: http://www2.sl.nsw.gov.au/banks/series_27/27_08.cfm (frame CY 3008 / 252)Paterson sent the above notes and the drawings to Banks, seeking his support to become a Fellow of the Royal Society.
In 1795, Paterson, then administrator at Sydney, granted Doody, by then a free man, 30 acres of waterfront land upriver from Sydney. The location was originally called Doody's Bay and later became known as Gladesville, after John Glade, a later owner of the land. No other information on John Doody could be located and it appears that he did not complete any other botanical illustrations.
Examples of his artwork:
Two Australian postage stamps issued in 2020 feature his illustrations: