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Governor Phillip Gidley King

Governor Philip Gidley King. This portrait was engraved as an illustration for Phillip’s The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay (1790). See National Portrait Gallery.

Phillip Gidley King was born 23 April 1758 and was twenty-nine years of age when the First Fleet set sail in 1788.  Twenty years older,  Arthur Phillip was a friend and mentor to King for many years.  King served in the Channel Fleet from January 1780, and in the Ariadne he served under the command of Arthur Phillip.

In 1783 King sailed to India on the Europe with Phillip who formed a high opinion of his merits; on their return, since peace had been made, King was paid off.

In October 1786, as soon as Phillip had been nominated to command the expedition then setting out to establish a penal settlement at Botany Bay, he chose King as second lieutenant in the Sirius, in which he was sailing himself.

In 1788 he took King with him when he transferred to the Supply in the hope of reaching their destination ahead of the main fleet, and a fortnight after they arrived selected him 'as an officer of merit … whose perseverance may be depended upon to establish a subordinate settlement on Norfolk Island.

King sailed for England in March 1790 on Phillip's orders to report on the difficulties of the whole settlement. He became ill with gout during the voyage.

In England on 2 March 1791 King was promoted commander. On 11th March he married his cousin Anna Josepha Coombe at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. They sailed together in H.M.S. Gorgon (Captain Parker) leaving England on 18th March 1791 to return to Norfolk Island where King took up his commission as lieutenant-governor.

Their son Phillip Parker King was born on Norfolk Island on 13 December 1791.

In New South Wales by 1795 Phillip Gidley King had become extremely ill and Governor John Hunter gave him leave of absence to return to England to recover his health. He returned to England on the Britannnia and remained in England until November 1799.

Having been appointed Governor of New South Wales, Anna Josepha and Phillip Gidley King returned to Australia on the Speedy where he took up his appointment as 3rd Governor of the colony.  Only their daughter Elizabeth sailed with them, their son Phillip Parker King and daughter Maria King remained in England.

Phillip Gidley King died on 3 September 1808 and was buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Lower Tooting, London. After his death Anna Joseph and her family returned to Australia. She passed away in 1844 and was buried at St Mary Magdalene's Church, near Penrith, NSW.


1).  Portraits of fifty-eight descendants of Phillip Gidley King who answered the Empire's Call in the First World War

2).  Governor King's snuff box - National Museum of Australia

3).  Rear Admiral Phillip Parker King

4).  Anna Joseph King - Australian Dictionary of Biography

5). Anna Josepha King journal of a voyage from England to Australia in the ship 'Speedy', 19 November 1799 - 15 April 1800

6). Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Volume 3, 1801 - 1802 - Governor King