Philip Gidley King

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Philip Gidley King

Philip Gidley King - Project Gutenberg eText 12992.jpg
3rd Governor of New South Wales
In office
28 September 1800 August 1806
Monarch George III
Preceded by John Hunter
Succeeded by William Bligh
Personal details
Born(1758-04-23)23 April 1758
Launceston, Cornwall, England, Great Britain
Died3 September 1808(1808-09-03) (aged 50)
London, England, United Kingdom
Resting placeSt Nicholas churchyard, Lower Tooting, London
Spouse(s)Anna Josepha Coombe
Children3 sons (incl. Phillip), 3 daughters
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Branch/service Royal Navy
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Australian Frontier Wars

Captain Philip Gidley King (23 April 1758 – 3 September 1808) was the third Governor of New South Wales, and did much to organise the young colony in the face of great obstacles.

Captain (Royal Navy) senior officer rank of the Royal Navy

Captain (Capt) is a senior officer rank of the Royal Navy. It ranks above commander and below commodore and has a NATO ranking code of OF-5. The rank is equivalent to a colonel in the British Army and Royal Marines, and to a group captain in the Royal Air Force. There are similarly named equivalent ranks in the navies of many other countries.

Governor of New South Wales vice-regal representative of the Australian monarch in New South Wales

The Governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the Governor-General of Australia at the national level, the Governors of the Australian states perform constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level. The governor is appointed by the queen on the advice of the premier of New South Wales, for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the norm. The current governor is retired judge Margaret Beazley, who succeeded David Hurley on 2 May 2019.


When the First Fleet arrived in January 1788, King was detailed to colonise Norfolk Island for defence and foraging purposes. As Governor of New South Wales, he helped develop livestock farming, whaling and mining, built many schools and launched the colony's first newspaper. But conflicts with the military wore down his spirit, and they were able to force his resignation.

First Fleet 11 ships that left Great Britain to found the penal colony in Australia

The First Fleet was the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787 to found the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers and free people, and a large quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving over the period of 18 to 20 January 1788, taking 250 to 252 days from departure to final arrival.

Norfolk Island External territory of Australia

Norfolk Island is an Australian external territory and island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, 1,412 kilometres (877 mi) directly east of mainland Australia's Evans Head, and about 900 kilometres (560 mi) from Lord Howe Island. Norfolk Island, together with the two neighbouring islands Phillip Island and Nepean Island, form the Territory of Norfolk Island, one of the Commonwealth of Australia's external territories. At the 2016 Australian census, it had 1748 inhabitants living on a total area of about 35 km2 (14 sq mi). Its capital is Kingston.

Early years and establishment of Norfolk Island settlement

Philip Gidley King was born at Launceston, England on 23 April 1758, the son of draper Philip King, and grandson of Exeter attorney-at-law John Gidley. [1] He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 12 as captain's servant, and was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1778. King served under Arthur Phillip who chose him as second lieutenant on HMS Sirius for the expedition to establish a convict settlement in New South Wales. On arrival, in January 1788, King was selected to lead a small party of convicts and guards to set up a settlement at Norfolk Island, leaving Sydney on 14 February 1788 on board HMS Sirius. [2] [3] [4]

Launceston, Cornwall town, ancient borough, and civil parish in east Cornwall, England, United Kingdom

Launceston is a town, ancient borough, and civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the middle stage of the River Tamar, which constitutes almost the entire border between Cornwall and Devon. The landscape of the town is generally steep particularly at a sharp south-western knoll topped by Launceston Castle. These gradients fall down to the River Kensey and smaller tributaries.

Draper Cloth merchant

Draper was originally a term for a retailer or wholesaler of cloth that was mainly for clothing. A draper may additionally operate as a cloth merchant or a haberdasher.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

On 6 March 1788, King and his party landed with difficulty, owing to the lack of a suitable harbour, and set about building huts, clearing the land, planting crops, and resisting the ravages of grubs, salt air and hurricanes. More convicts were sent, and these proved occasionally troublesome. Early in 1789 he prevented a mutiny when some of the convicts planned to take him and other officers prisoner, and escape on the next boat to arrive. Whilst commandant on Norfolk Island, King formed a relationship with the female convict Ann Inett – their first son, born on 8 January 1789, was named Norfolk. (He went on to become the first Australian-born officer in the Royal Navy and the captain of the schooner Ballahoo.) Another son was born in 1790 and named Sydney. [3] [4] [5]

HMS Ballahoo was the first of the Royal Navy's Ballahoo-class schooners, vessels of four 12-pounder carronades and a crew of 20. The prime contractor for the vessel was Goodrich & Co., in Bermuda, and she was launched in 1804. She patrolled primarily in the Leeward Islands, taking several small prizes, before an American privateer captured her in 1814 during the War of 1812.

Following the wreck of Sirius at Norfolk Island in March 1790, King left and returned to England to report on the difficulties of the settlements at New South Wales. Ann Inett was left in Sydney with the boys; she later married another man in 1792, and went on to lead a comfortable and respected life in the colony. King, who had probably arranged the marriage, also arranged for their two sons to be educated in England, where they became officers in the navy. Whilst in England King married Anna Josepha Coombe (his first cousin) on 11 March 1791 and returned shortly after on HMS Gorgon to take up his post as Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island, at an annual salary of £250. King's first legitimate offspring, Phillip Parker King, was born there in December 1791, and four daughters followed. [3] [4]

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2019, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Anna Josepha King Australian settler

Anna Josepha King (1765–1844) was the wife of Philip Gidley King, the Governor of New South Wales from 1800 to 1806.

Phillip Parker King British Royal Navy officer and early explorer of the Australian and Patagonian coasts

Admiral Phillip Parker King, FRS, RN was an early explorer of the Australian and Patagonian coasts.

On his return to Norfolk Island, King found the population of nearly one thousand torn apart by discontent after the strict regime of Major Robert Ross. However, he set about enthusiastically to improve conditions. He encouraged settlers, drawn from ex-convicts and ex-marines, and he listened to their views on wages and prices. By 1794 the island was self-sufficient in grain, and surplus swine were being sent to Sydney. The number of people living off the government store was high, and few settlers wanted to leave. In February 1794 King was faced with unfounded allegations by members of the New South Wales Corps on the island that he was punishing them too severely and ex-convicts too lightly when disputes arose. As their conduct became mutinous, he sent twenty of them to Sydney for trial by court-martial. There Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose censured King's actions and issued orders which gave the military illegal authority over the civilian population. Grose later apologised, but conflict with the military continued to plague King. [3] [4]

The New South Wales Corps was formed in England in 1789 as a permanent regiment to relieve the New South Wales Marine Corps, who had accompanied the First Fleet to Australia. It was disbanded in 1818.

Governor of New South Wales

Suffering from gout, King returned to England in October 1796, and after regaining his health, and resuming his naval career, he was appointed to replace Captain John Hunter as the third Governor of New South Wales. King became governor on 28 September 1800. He set about changing the system of administration, and appointed Major Joseph Foveaux as Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island. His first task was to attack the misconduct of officers of the New South Wales Corps in their illicit trading in liquor, notably rum. He tried to discourage the importation of liquor, and began to construct a brewery. However, he found the refusal of convicts to work in their own time for other forms of payment, and the continued illicit local distillation, increasingly difficult to control. He continued to face military arrogance and disobedience from the New South Wales Corps. He failed to receive support in England when he sent an accused officer John Macarthur back to face a court-martial. [3] [4]

King had some successes. His regulations for prices, wages, hours of work, financial deals, and the employment of convicts brought some relief to smallholders, and reduced the numbers 'on the stores'. He encouraged construction of barracks, wharves, bridges, houses, etc. Government flocks and herds greatly increased, and he encouraged experiments with vines, tobacco, cotton, hemp, and indigo. Whaling and sealing became important sources of oil and skins, and coal mining began. He took an interest in education, establishing schools to teach convict boys to become skilled tradesmen. He encouraged smallpox vaccinations, was sympathetic to missionaries, strove to keep peace with the indigenous inhabitants, ordered the printing of Australia's first book, New South Wales General Standing Orders , and encouraged the first newspaper, the Sydney Gazette . [6] Exploration led to the survey of Bass Strait and Western Port, and the discovery of Port Phillip, and settlements were established at Hobart and Port Dalrymple in Van Diemen's Land. [3] [4]

While still aware that Sydney was a convict colony and always alert to the ebb and flow of the rebellious Irish political prisoners he established his own body guard. He gave opportunities to emancipists, considering that ex-convicts should not remain in disgrace forever. He appointed emancipists to positions of responsibility, regulated the position of assigned servants, and laid the foundation of the 'ticket of leave' system for deserving prisoners. Although he directly profited from a number of commercial deals, cattle sales, and land grants, he was modest in his dealings compared with most of his subordinates. Most famously he quelled the Castle Hill Rebellion in March 1804. The increased animosity between King and the New South Wales Corps led to his resignation and replacement by William Bligh in 1806, and he returned to England. Here his health failed and he died on 3 September 1808. [3] [4]

Although he worked hard for the good of New South Wales and left it very much better than he found it, the abuse from the officers harmed his reputation, and illness and the hard conditions of his service eventually wore him down. Of all the members of the First Fleet, Philip Gidley King perhaps made the greatest contribution to the early years of the colony. [3]

See also

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  1. Phillip 1970, p. 50
  2. "Old Families of New South Wales". The Sunday Times . Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 9 December 1923. p. 13. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Shaw, A. G. L. (1967). "King, Philip Gidley (1758–1808)". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Serle, Percival (1949). "King, Philip Gidley". Dictionary of Australian Biography . Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  5. Gillen, Mollie (1989). The Founders of Australia: a biographical dictionary of the First Fleet. Sydney: Library of Australian History. p. 608. ISBN   0-908120-69-9.
  6. "Establishing Law and Order – NSW General Standing Orders". State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.


Government offices
Preceded by
John Hunter
Governor of New South Wales
Succeeded by
William Bligh