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King, John (1820–1895)

by Dorothy A. Rogers

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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KING BROTHERS: John (1820-1895), William Essington (1821-1910), and Arthur Septimus (1827-1899), pastoralists, were born at Parramatta, the second, third and seventh sons of Commander Phillip Parker King and his wife Harriet, née Lethbridge. John and William went to England with their parents in 1822. In 1829 Harriet returned to Sydney with William and three other sons.

John (b. 9 January 1820) ended his schooling in England and at 17 returned to Sydney. He soon joined his brothers, Philip and William, at Gidleigh station which his father had bought in 1834 near Bungendore for about £600. In 1839 John took up a lease near Lake George and in 1841-43 held Ajamatong in the Maneroo district. From the high country he had glimpses of Gippsland which he described as an 'Australian paradise'. Among the first to settle there, he bought the rights of Fulham Park run (near Longford) in 1842. He sold out in 1846 and with Holt, Croft and Tooth formed John King & Co. and bought the rights to Snake Ridge station. By 1854 the firm had acquired the Scarne and Rosedale runs, a total of 106,000 acres (42,897 ha) running 7000 cattle. King had started with sheep but turned to cattle, fattening them for the market in Van Diemen's Land.

In November 1855 John was elected for Gippsland to the Legislative Council and after responsible government to the Legislative Assembly until he resigned in September 1857. He was also one of the first magistrates on the bench at Alberton. At Rosedale on 20 January 1853 he had married Marianne Peck. She died on 1 August 1863 and he went to England where in London on 27 October 1864 he married Antoinette Stretanus, daughter of Rev. Dr Henry Geyle of the Dutch Church in Austin Friars. On their return to Victoria they lived at Nambrock, Rosedale, where in 1882 as 'Tanjil' he wrote his early reminiscences in Our Trip to Gippsland Lakes and Rivers.

At Rosedale John was a founder of the Mechanics' Institute, and a trustee and chairman of the Board of Guardians of St Mark's Church of England which was built in 1867 on land given by the family. In 1875-83 he served on the Rosedale Shire Council and was president in 1877-78. He also acquired the Mairburn property where he established a vineyard and lemon plantation, and with William gave land for a church at near-by Metung. His health failing in 1892 he made his home at Chislehurst, Hawksburn. He died there on 24 January 1895 and was buried in the St Kilda cemetery. He had two sons and three daughters by his first wife and a son and daughter by his second.

William Essington (b. 8 September 1821) was educated in Sydney. At 16 he worked at Gidleigh and then on the runs of John King & Co. In 1852-59 he was a gold commissioner on various fields in New South Wales. In 1859-63 he and Arthur ran a stock and station agency in Bourke Street, Melbourne; their first recorded sale was 176 bullocks from John King & Co. In 1864 Essington managed John's Sydney Cottage station. At Rosedale he was a trustee and secretary of the Board of Guardians at St Mark's. In 1869 he served on the first Rosedale Roads Board and when it became a Shire Council in 1871 he was elected president. He returned to Melbourne in 1872 and engaged in business pursuits, among them a directorship of the Colonial Mutual Fire Insurance Co. in 1891-1906. In 1895 he briefly managed Bayley's Reward Reef mine at Coolgardie. An active Anglican, he was a lay canon of St Paul's Cathedral in 1875-1908. On 27 April 1854 he had married Christiana Sarah, eldest daughter of William Edward Riley; they had eight sons and three daughters. Predeceased by his wife on 26 October 1886, he died at his home, Tregeare, Armadale, and was buried in the St Kilda cemetery.

Arthur Septimus (b.9 February 1827) was educated in Sydney. In 1842-54 he worked with John in Gippsland and then returned to New South Wales. In 1859 he joined Essington in their stock and station agency in Melbourne. He leased properties in Gippsland and Hawkesview station near the Murray which he later bought and which was managed by his second son Baron Albert (1864-1936). In 1863 Essington was replaced in the agency by V. Cunningham. They leased some 150 acres (61 ha) at Ascot Vale, known later as King's paddock, where they agisted cattle from Queensland and Gippsland before sending them to Newmarket sale-yards. When Cunningham retired, Arthur's sons, Alan and Ernest, entered the firm which became A. S. King & Sons and later King Sons & Ballantine (now Australian Estates).

Always top-hatted when selling, Arthur was a notable figure and foremost among Victorian agents. For thirty years he was a local director of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and in 1884-89 a director of the National Bank of Australasia. In New South Wales on 15 July 1857 he had married his cousin, Elizabeth Margaret Lethbridge (d.1919); they had six sons and four daughters. From 1863 the family lived at Madford, Kew, and attended Holy Trinity where Arthur was for years a churchwarden. He died on 28 September 1899 and was buried in the family grave. Memorials to him and his wife are at Holy Trinity Church, Kew.

Select Bibliography

  • H. H. Peck, Memoirs of a Stockman (Melb, 1942)
  • A. E. Clark, The Church of Our Fathers (Melb, 1947)
  • C. Daley, The Story of Gippsland (Melb, 1960)
  • New South Wales Government Gazette, 19 Feb, 1 July 1841
  • Argus (Melbourne), 25, 26 Jan 1895, 21 Nov 1910
  • Rosedale Courier, 31 Jan, 7, 21 Feb 1895
  • Herald (Melbourne), 15, 30 Nov 1910
  • Mrs T. L. F. Rutledge, ‘Bungendore’, National Trust of Australia (New South Wales) Women's Committee, Inspection no 127 (1968)
  • depasturing licence registers 1839-43 (State Records New South Wales)
  • P. G. King family papers c1839 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • W. E. King journal (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

Dorothy A. Rogers, 'King, John (1820–1895)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/king-john-3955/text6235, published in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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