Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/King, Philip Parker

1444857Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 31 — King, Philip Parker1892John Knox Laughton

KING, PHILIP PARKER (1793–1856), rear-admiral, born at Norfolk Island 13 Dec. 1793, was son of Captain Philip Gidley King [q.v.] He entered the navy in November 1807, on board the Diana frigate; and after six years of active service in the Bay of Biscay, the North Sea, and the Mediterranean, was promoted by Sir Edward Pellew to be lieutenant of the Trident, 28 Feb. 1814. In the beginning of 1817 he was appointed to conduct a survey of the coast of Australia, and was sent out, a passenger in a transport, to take command of the Mermaid, a cutter of eighty-four tons, with a complement of eighteen officers and men. He arrived in Port Jackson in September 1817, and for the next five years was engaged, almost without intermission, on the work of the survey. During that time be examined and delineated the greater part of the west, north, and north-east coasts, and laid down a new route from Sydney to Torres Strait, inside the Barrier Reef. In December 1820 the Mermaid was found to be no longer seaworthy, and King was transferred to a newly purchased ship, which was renamed the Bathurst. This was about double the size of the Mermaid, and carrying twice the number of men, but the work on which she was employed was essentially the same. King was promoted to the rank of commander, 17 July 1821, but continued the survey till the April of 1822. In September the Bathurst sailed for England, where she arrived in April 1823,and during the next two years King was occupied with the narrative and the charts of his survey. The charts were published by the hydrographic office, and form the basis of those now in use: the 'Narrative of the Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia' (2 vols. 6vo) was published in 1827. Meantime, on 26 Feb. 1824, King was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; and in September 1825 was appointed to the Adventure, with instructions to undertake the survey of 'the southern coast of South America from the Rio Plata round to Chiloe, and of Tierra del Fuego.’ In this service the Adventure was accompanied by the Beagle, commanded by Captain Stokes, and after the latter's death by Captain Robert Fitzroy [q. v.], and during the four years 1826–30 the work was carried on with unremitting diligence and an exactness which established the reputations of both King and Fitzroy in the very first rank of hydrographers. King was advanced to post-rank on 25 Feb. 1830, and in the following November the two ships returned to England. In April and May 1831 King read some account of the results of his voyage before the Royal Geographical Society, and in the following year he published a volume of ‘Sailing Directions to the Coasts of Eastern and Western Patagonia, including the Straits of Magalhaen and the Sea-Coast of Tierra del Fuego.’ In 1839 a more popular account of his and Fitzroy's voyage was published in the first volume of the ‘Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle,’ edited by Captain Fitzroy. King had no further service in the navy, but returning to New South Wales, settled in Sydney and entered busily into the affairs of the colony; he was for many years manager of the Australian Agricultural Society, and a member of the legislative council. In September 1855 he became a rear-admiral on the retired list. He died in February 1856, leaving a widow and a large family. He had married in 1817 Harriet, daughter of Christopher Lethbridge of Madford, Launceston, Cornwall.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. x. (vol. iii. pt. ii.) 200; O'Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1856, new ser. i. 426; Heaton's Australian Dict.; and King's works mentioned in the text.]

J. K. L.