John Cecil was born in 1787 in Tidenham where he worked as a labourer. In April 1816 he was charged with breaking into the property of the Reverend Thomas Thomas of Tidenham and stealing one tin pint and several other articles. However, when he appeared before the Summer Assizes on 17 August 1816, he was found not guilty. On 11 January 1821, at the age of 34, he was convicted of theft and sentenced to be transported for 7 years. His prison records state:
“John Cecil, aged 34, committed November 4, 1820, by Thomas Thomas, Clerk, charged on the oaths of Alexander Trotter, John Morgan, and others, with having, on or about the 6th day of October last, feloniously stolen, taken, and carried away a quantity of elm lath, the property of his Grace the Duke of Beaufort, from a farm-yard in the occupation of the said Alexander Trotter, in the parish of Wollaston: And also, on suspicion of having feloniously stolen, taken, and carried away six oak boards, the property of the said Alexander Trotter, from his farm-yard at Tidenham.”
After a spell on the hulk, the Justitia, he was transferred to the Adamant which set sail for New South Wales on 19 March 1821 and arrived on 8 September 1821.