Esther Abrahams (1771 – 26 August 1846) was a Londoner sent to Australia as a convict on the First Fleet. She later married George Johnston, who was briefly governor of the colony after leading the Rum Rebellion.
Abrahams was trialled at the Old Bailey, in London on 30 August 1786 for stealing lace with a value of 50 shillings. Esther was found guilty of theft, although the evidence was circumstantial. She was 15 years old when tried; her occupation was listed as milliner. The teenager was imprisoned in Newgate Gaol, London, where she bore an illegitimate child named Roseanna, father unknown, on 18 March 1787. Esther's name is sometimes shown as 'Julian.' From 1800, instead of Abrahams she called herself Julian, originally Juliano, after a renowned Judeo-Spanish family. Esther and her daughter were transported to Australia with the First Fleet, which departed London in May 1787 and reached Sydney in January 1788). Some sources show them as being transported on the ship Prince of Wales, while other sources show them on the ship Lady Penrhyn.. It is plausible that they changed ship en route. The transport was an ordeal.
Esther took up a relationship with George Johnston, First Lieutenant of the Marines, who had accompanied the First Fleet. She bore him seven children, including their two sons David and Robert. Their house was probably a wattle and daub cottage built by convicts with local timber. On 26 January 1808, George Johnston led the 'Rum Rebellion', and overthrew Governor Bligh. Her daughter Roseanna (or Rosannah) grew up to marry emancipated convict Isaac Nichols (the first Postmaster of the colony), in 1805.
Because of his rank, George Johnston received huge land grants. He was born in Annandale, Scotland, and named their farm after that place as was the custom. It is now a suburb of Sydney. George's River was named after him. Esther received land grants in her own right in 1809. Despite having led the rebellion, Johnston was able to keep his land when he returned to Australia after an absence of four years. Esther had been left in charge of the estate in his absence.
When George Johnston finally married Esther Abrahams in November 1814, Roseanna and her husband were witnesses at the wedding.
In 1823, George Johnston died. Disputes followed over inheritance of the properties. Her son David had been left property of his own. However, Robert was to inherit Annandale on Esther's death. He issued a writ (March 1829) against her, and proceeded to have her declared insane. Esther put up a strong fight, producing many witnesses to prove she was lucid. Robert won, and Esther went to live with her son David.
Esther died in 1846, and was buried beside her husband in the family vault on the Annadale property. Esther was described by her grandson as "always a stirring industrious woman". Her portrait hangs in the Sydney Jewish Museum.
While her husband is remembered in various geographic names, there was, until 2002, no such feature in Sydney named in Esther's memory. In 2002 a pavilion was dedicated in Bicentennial Park, in Johnston Street, Annandale, New South Wales, near the Anzac Bridge.
- Eschiva; Female Firebrands and Reformers - Esther Abrahams (c.1771 - 1846) Jewish Convict & First Lady. 
- Holden, Kim; Roseanna Abrahams, alias Julian; Virtual Australia. 
- Reference and article (cc-by-sa) on Abrahams, Esther in the Dictionary of Sydney
- Court Transcripts
- Court Transcripts
- Jews in Australia
- NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Guide to Jewish Sydney
- Sydney Morning Herald "Online transcripts illuminate world of First Fleeters" by Sue Lowe, 26 July 2003
- Timeline of Australian Jewish History