Men of authority in early Australia and their families

Naval officer John Hunter (1737 - 1821)

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Jan 1788 Arrived on First Fleet alongside Arthur Phillip.
He had been appointed successor to Governor Phillip in the event of Phillip's death/incapacity.
Started exploring the surrounding area, particularly around Parramatta.

Oct 1788 Sailed to Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) via Cape Horn (South America), on what ended up being a fairly leaky ship "Sirius" for supplies for Sydney, circumnavigating the globe.

May 1789 arrived back in Sydney, with his ship leaking badly. Waited for "Sirius" to be refitted, then in Feb 1790 took a load of convicts to the settlement at Norfolk Island, 1400 kilometres directly east from Evans Head on the east coast of Australia.

Feb 1790 While anchored on Norfolk Island, a violent storm drove "Sirius" onto a coral reef, wrecking it. Hunter stayed on island eleven months while Naval officer Philip King went back to England, to report, and to return.

March 1791 Hunter called back to England, a 13 month trip, arriving in England in April 1792. Court martialled for "Sirius" shipwreck, and honourably acquitted.

Oct 1793 Applied to become Governor of Australia, following Governor Phillip's return. Back in Dec 1792, Phillip, whose health was suffering, relinquished his governorship and sailed for England, arriving back in London in May 1793. Phillip had left the colony in the hands of Lieutenant Governor Grose, which had lasted until Dec 1794, then the colony was administered by senior military officer Captain William Paterson until Sep 1795. However, the Paymaster and Administrator of the NSW Corps, John MacArthur, appears to have pretty much run the show behind the scenes during those three years.

Jan 1794 Hunter was appointed Governor-in-chief of Australia.

Feb 1795 After a year's delay, with war developing between England and France, Hunter set sail for Australia.

Sep 1795 Finally he arrived back in Australia. Numerous issues with John MacArthur and the NSW Corps over their prisoner abuse and personal profiteering. MacArthur subsequently accused Hunter (to English authorities) of rum trading and economic mismanagement.

Sep 1800 Hunter was recalled to England to answer these issues. Produced a detailed paper of the economic difficulties the colony was having. Settled in England, in retirement.

Naval officer Philip King (1758 - 1808)

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Jan 1788 King arrived on First Fleet alongside Arthur Phillip.

Feb 1788 Sailed for Norfolk Island, his new post with a party of twenty-three including fifteen convicts, arriving 6 March.

During the next two years, King lived with Ann Inett a dressmaker convict as his housekeeper-mistress. On 8 January 1789, Norfolk King their first son was born. (By 1808 at age 19, a few weeks after his father’s death in 1808, Norfolk King had risen to the rank of Acting SubLieutenant and by 1812 became a Lieutenant in the command of HMS Ballahu. He later married Philadelphia Montague.)

Mar 1790 After the "Sirius" shipwreck, King and his young family were recalled to Sydney. King then sailed for England on Phillip's orders to report on the difficulties of the whole settlement. Ann remained in Sydney where their second son was born on 25 June 1790 and baptised at St Philip's Church Sydney on 9 July 1790, named Sydney King. Sydney, like his father and brother before him, also joined the Royal Navy and attained the rank of Lieutenant on 8 March 1815. He later married Mary Butler in Worcester, United Kingdom.

Mar 1791 King left England and sailed back to Norfolk Island. He had married Anna Josepha Coombe in England just before returning, and his first two children with Ann were now supported by himself with his new wife. Their first son, Phillip Parker King, was born in December. King oversaw settlement on Norfolk Island over the next five years.

Ann married Richard John Robinson on 18 November 1792 at St John's Church, Parramatta. He, also being a convict was serving a life sentence but was freed by pardon in 1804 (by Gov King).

Oct 1796 King returned to England, leaving Norfolk Island in the hands of Lieutenant Governor John Towson.

Sep 1800 Sailed back to Australia with wife Anna and one very young daughter, appointed as the new Governor in place of Governor Hunter. They had left the older children behind, now being educated in England.

Immediately, he ran into an issue with John MacArthur. Apparently a certain Lt Marshall had been imprisoned for 12 months for assaulting MacArthur and Abbott when they were investigating a theft. Marshall had protested having an officer of the corps hear his case, but his objection had been ignored. Governor King upheld the objection, freed him, then sent him to England for trial.

MacArthur, miffed at King's actions, in an endeavour to ostracize him socially, ended up in a duel with William Paterson, wounding him badly in the shoulder. MacArthur now returned to England, for trial. He subsequently resigned from the corps. Returned to Australia in 1805.

In 1806 Governor King returned to England, and is replaced by Gov Bligh. Died in England in 1808.

John MacArthur (1767-1834)

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1790 Arrived on Second Fleet with a British military force, the NSW Corps. Just 23 years old.

In January 1793, following Governor Phillip's return to England, he was appointed Resident at Parramatta by Lieutenant-Governor Grose who found himself personally unable to manage the whole of the affairs of Government, owing to the spread of the settlements. MacArthur obtained a grant there of 100 acres of land. Called it Elizabeth Farm (his wife's name) where he lived with his wife, his young boys, and his convict servants. He was also administrator, a rank that included paymaster. MacArthur now became very wealthy via the rum trade that was being used in place of money, and pretty much ran the show.

1794 Began first experiments in improving wool growth in sheep by crossing hair-bearing Bengal ewes from India with Irish wool rams. Farm now 200 acres.

1796 With a dearth of provisions in the colony, two sloops, the 'Reliance' and 'Supply', were despatched by Governor Hunter, under command of Captains Kent and Waterhouse, to the Cape of Good Hope for relief supplies. It happened that on their arrival some rare merino sheep from the celebrated Escurial flock were about to be sold.
A bit of background. The King of Spain had presented to the Dutch Government some years back some of the finest pure merino sheep from his jealously guarded "Escurial" flocks, once owned by King Philip II. These sheep had been sent under the care of a Scots gentleman to the Cape of Good Hope, but the gentleman died shortly afterwards, and after many arguments with his widow, twenty of the sheep were thus sold to Kent and Waterhouse who recognized their great worth. Three rams and five ewes of this number then ended up with John MacArthur, who carefully preserved them, increasing their number and improving the quality of the wool.

Nov 1801 Having been involved in a quarrel between Governor King and the officers of the New South Wales Corps over the traffic in spirits, he fought a duel with William Paterson, who had sided somewhat with King and was dangerously wounded. MacArthur was put under arrest and ordered to Norfolk Island for service, and required to enter into recognisances (bonds that obligate the wrongdoer) to keep the peace. Both he declined to do — he demanded a court-martial, and refused to quit arrest. King accordingly sent him to England. A bulky document written by the earlier governor, Governor Hunter accusing him of various abuses accompanied the ship's captain on the same ship, though it somehow disappeared on the voyage. No penalty accrued to him at his trial, the Horse Guards considered the Governor had erred in judgment, and released MacArthur from arrest. However he was ordered to go back and "do as he was told". MacArthur instead retired from military service.

1803 While in England, having taken samples of the wool with him, he reported to all who would hear how his merino sheep, where they had had a 3lb fleece in 1801, he had now learned they had become a 5lb fleece in 1802, also with much improved quality. He was examined by a committee of the Privy Council, at the insistence of wool manufacturers, on the subject of wool-growing in Australia, and Lord Camden ordered that a grant of 5000 acres be made to him. This land he selected at the Cowpastures, Camden. He brought with him on his return to the colony two merino ewes and three rams from the flock of George III.

1805 Back in Australia. Immediately issues arose with King and Bligh over all the good land he was claiming for his sheep at Camden Park. Both Governor King and Governor Bligh disputed his claim, but were overruled by the Colonial Office in England.

1808 Military coup, following Bligh's arresting of MacArthur. The issue was over a £900 bond forfeiture. A ship had earlier failed to keep to landing regulations and a convict had, thus, escaped on it. When the ship returned, a bond it had paid was then deemed forfeited. MacArthur, who owned the vessel and held that money, refused to hand it over and refused to come to court. Bligh insisted MacArthur be arrested. In protest on the day of his trial, on 26th January 1808, Australia Day, MacArthur was released and 400 soldiers in the Corps under Major George Johnston arrested Governor Bligh instead. A rebel government was installed, and Governor Bligh was placed under house arrest.
MacArthur declared himself Colonial Secretary of this rebel government in 1808, sending his 19 year old son Edward to London to convey MacArthur's version of the events. Accompanying him was the first bale of Australian wool to be exported. The British woollen mills were desperate for wool at the time because of the Napoleonic blockade, and the Australian bale sold for a record price.

1809 In January Governor Bligh was also given a vessel wherewith to sail to England, but he instead sailed to Hobart. Upon Governor Macquarie's arrival in Sydney the following January, Bligh returned from Hobart, then sailed to London in May 1810.

1810 Governor Lachlan Macquarie arrived with a new regiment. The previous regiment, along with MacArthur, went to England for trial, with an arrest warrant issued for MacArthur should he return to Sydney. But, it was the time of the Napoleonic War, again, there was no penalty for him, though MacArthur was told that in order to return to Sydney, he needed to acknowledge his wrongdoing and promise to behave himself in future. He refused.

1817 Having made some powerful friends in England, he was finally allowed to return, unconditionally. Devoted himself to his merino wool farming, plus horses, also a vineyard. The export of wool soon made MacArthur the richest man in New South Wales. In 1822, the Society for the Arts in London awarded him two medals for exporting 150,000 lb (68,000 kg) of wool to England and for increasing the quality of his wool to that of the finest Saxon Merino. Suffering failing mental health in 1832, he died in 1834.

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