Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Gilbert King R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 7 October 1813

Gilbert King was born in Scotland c. 1791. He attended the University of Glasgow. [1] He was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814.

In 1832 he was appointed surgeon to the Naval Hospital at Haulbowline Island, Cork.[4]


Gilbert King was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on five convict ship voyages to Australia:

Medway to VDL in 1825

Marquis of Hastings to NSW in 1827
Lord Lyndoch to VDL in 1831

Eden to VDL in 1836

Moffatt to VDL in 1838

And on the immigrant ship Cornwall from London to Sydney in 1839.

Deputy Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets

In 1841 Gilbert King, M.D., of the Illustrious flag ship was promoted to be Deputy Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets [7]

Deputy Inspector at Bermuda

He was appointed Deputy Inspector at the Bermuda Station on 25 August 1843.[5]


He was appointed Deputy Inspector at the Royal Hospital, Haslar in 1845[6]

Deputy Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets

He was appointed Deputy Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets at the Africa station on 9 November 1846[2]

In this capacity he was recommended by Director-General W. Burnett to proceed to Boa Vista Island, to investigate circumstances relating to the fever there after the visit of the Eclair and also any previous or subsequent epidemic at that place. He was to proceed there from Plymouth in H.M.S. Grappler. On arrival he was to be placed with his baggage in a shore boat and landed there without anyone else on the Grappler coming in contact with the island. He was issued with a set of instructions to guide the enquiry and afterwards was to submit a full Report.

I have also to acquaint you that their Lordships have appointed you Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets within the limits of the African Station; and I therefore transmit herewith a copy of the Foreign Naval Hospital Instructions, as well as of those for the Service afloat, for your information and guidance; and in fulfilling the duties of this appointment you are to avail yourself of a favourable opportunity to visit the island of Ascension, to ascertain the state of the hospital and also that of the garrison etc. of that island, making a Report of your whole proceedings.

As I presume about a month's stay in Boa Vista will enable you to accomplish the objects of your visit to that island, I have suggested to their Lordships that one of the ships of the African squadron may be allowed to call for you there, in order that you may be able to proceed on the execution of your other duties with as little delay as possible
.. - W. Burnett.[8]


In the 1851 Census Gilbert King was residing at Belgrave Place St. George Hanover. He was 60 years old and a widower. His unmarried son Gilbert age 17 and daughter Jane age 19 resided with him.

1861 Census

In the 1861 Census Gilbert King can be found residing at Gibson Street St. Marys Islington as a lodger. He was 70 years of age, occupation Inspector General of Hospital Fleets.


Gilbert King died 18 March 1864.....

The Will of Gilbert King, late of 38 Gibson square in the Parish of Islington, Middlesex, Doctor of Medicine, Inspector of Hospitals and fleets in the Royal Navy deceased who died 18 March 1864 at 38 Gibson square was proved at the principal registry by the oath of Jane Sophia Clarke (wife of Benjamin Clarke) of 38 Gibson square aforesaid the Daughter the sole Executrix [3]


[1] University of Glasgow Story

[2] Navy List

[3] England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941

[4] The Nautical Magazine

[5] The New Navy List

[6] Royal Calendar

[7] United Services Magazine

[8] The Fever at Boa Vista in 1845-6, Unconnected with the Visit of the Eclair