Philip Gidley King

CaptainPhilip Gidley King (23 April 1758 – 3 September 1808) was the third Governor of New South Wales.

British Colonial governor (1758–1808)
For his grandson, also Philip Gidley King, see Philip King (Australian politician).

Philip Gidley King
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
Died 3 September 1808(1808-09-03) (aged 50)
London, England, United Kingdom
Resting place St Nicholas churchyard, Lower Tooting, London
Spouse(s) Anna Josepha Coombe
Children 3 sons (incl. Phillip), 3 daughters
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Branch/service Royal Navy
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Australian Frontier Wars
This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (September 2021)

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.

. . . Philip Gidley King . . .

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]

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]

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]

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]

. . . Philip Gidley King . . .

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. . . Philip Gidley King . . .

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