John Donovan was born in Ireland in 1822. He married Mary McCormack in St Peter's Parish Church in Dublin on 4 May 1841 before the couple migrated to Australia on the ship "Ganges" arriving in Fremantle, Western Australia on 15 October 1841. On the passenger record, he and Mary are listed as a man servant and maid. They are aged 20 and 22 respectively.
It is not yet known what they did in Fremantle before making their way to York, Western Australia where they started as servants and went on to have a farm at Bebekine in the district of York Western Australia. He died in 1896 aged 74, a well known figure in the district.
He is one of the pioneers of Western Australia.