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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Hindmarsh, Rear-Admiral Sir John

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Hindmarsh, Rear-Admiral Sir John, K.H., first Governor of South Australia, was born in 1786, and entered the navy when only seven years old, as a first-class volunteer on board the Bellerophon, in which ship, at the battle of the Nile, when but a midshipman, and happening to be the only officer on the quarter-deck at the time, he greatly distinguished himself by the presence of mind with which, by cutting her cable and ordering her sails to be set, he saved the Bellerophon from being blown up with the French ship L'Orient. In recognition of his services on that occasion the ship's officers presented him with a sword, and he was publicly thanked by Lord Nelson, who, in 1803, on assuming the command of the Victory, wrote to Hindmarsh to join him on that world-famous ship. Having become lieutenant, the latter served on the Phoebe at Trafalgar, at Aix Roads, and at the capture of the Ile de France and of Java, being made commander in 1814, post captain in 1830, and rear-admiral in 1856. He was placed in command of H.M.S. Buffalo, and made K.H. in 1836, in which year he was appointed first Governor of South Australia. Landing from the Buffalo at Glenelg on Dec. 28th in that year, he read the proclamation creating South Australia a British colony under an old gum-tree, which is still shown to visitors as the cradle of the province. The success which had attended Captain Hindmarsh (as he then was) in the naval service failed him in his new capacity in South Australia, where the differences which arose between himself and the resident Commissioner, the late Sir James Hurtle Fisher, had the effect of dividing the colonists into two factions, and rendering the pacific administration of the province impossible. In order to end the deadlock, the Home Government dismissed Sir James Fisher and recalled Captain Hindmarsh, who left the colony in July 1838. It is but just to him to state that one of the causes of his unpopularity was his far-seeing desire to open up the navigation of the Murray, a work which has since been accomplished with entire success and universal applause. Captain Hindmarsh, who was knighted in 1851, and received a good service pension, and a war medal with seven clasps for the seven great actions in which he had been engaged, was Governor of Heligoland from 1840 to 1857, and married Susannah Wilson, daughter of H. D. Edmeades. His only son, John Hindmarsh, was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1846, and subsequently practised in South Australia, where he resided. Sir John Hindmarsh died in 1859.