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Powell Courtier

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Powell Courtier
BornJohn Powell Courtier
February 14, 1809
DiedJune 25, 1876 (age 67)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Resting placeMasonic Cemetery

Powell Courtier (1809-1876) is possibly the second earliest magician to have performed in Australia.


On January 14, 1834, the ship 'Southworth' arrived in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania, Australia), carrying a contingent of 188 convicts. John Powell at the age 22 was one of them. His trade was listed in the ship's log as "comedian". He had been sentenced on March 13, 1833 for the crime of stealing a waistcoat (and a prior acquittal on a Housebreaking charge).

After being freed on February 25, 1840, Powell made his first documented appearance, as “Powell Courtier” at Launceston, Tasmania on Monday, May 24, 1841.

He marries his wife Sarah in 1845 and they move to Melbourne in 1846.

In 1849, they leave for the United States, settling in San Francisco, California.

Between the years 1862 and 1864, I.R.S Tax assessments lists referred to Courtier as a Physician, a [keeper of] Hotel 5th Class, a Travelling Juggler and a Public Exhibitor. His location was listed variously as San Diego, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz, implying that he was not settled and was, at least on occasion, still on the move as a performer.

After his wife dies, he moves to Alburquerque, New Mexico in 1861, where he practiced medicine and established a bath-house, before moving to Santa Fe in 1863.

On June 25, 1876, he was brutally murdered while sleeping at home.[1]