Posts Tagged ‘John Oxley’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Phillip Parker King
13 December 1791 – 26 February 1856


Phillip Parker King

King was born on Norfolk Island, to Philip Gidley King and Anna Josepha King née Coombe, and named after his father’s mentor, Arthur Phillip. King was sent to England for education in 1796, and he joined the Royal Naval Academy, Portsmouth, in 1802. King entered the Royal Navy in 1807, where he was commissioned lieutenant in 1814.

King was assigned to survey the parts of the Australian coast not already examined by Matthew Flinders, and made four voyages between 1817 and 1822. Amongst the 19-man crew were Allan Cunningham (botanist), John Septimus Roe and the aborigine Bungaree. The first three trips were in the 76 tonne cutter HMS Mermaid.

The Admiralty instructed King to discover whether there was any river ‘likely to lead to an interior navigation into this great continent’. The Colonial Office had given instructions to collect information about topography, fauna, timber, minerals, climate, and the natives and the prospects of developing trade with them.

In 1818, the coast was surveyed as far as Van Diemen’s Gulf and there were many meetings with Aboriginals and Malay proas. The Mermaid visited Timor and then returned to Sydney. Then King surveyed the recently discovered Macquarie Harbour in Van Diemen’s Land and sailed in 1819 for Torres Strait. King took John Oxley as far as the Hastings River, and continued on to survey the coast between Cape Wessel and Admiralty Gulf. King returned to Sydney in early 1820.

King’s fourth voyage was undertaken in the 154 tonne sloop HMS Bathurst. The ship headed north, through Torres Strait and to the north-west coast of the continent. Further survey of the west coast was made after a visit to Mauritius.

King had been promoted to commander in 1821, and in 1823 returned to England. He subsequently commanded the survey vessel HMS Adventure, and in company with HMS Beagle, spent five years surveying the complex coasts around the Strait of Magellan.

The result was presented at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society in 1831. His eldest son, also named Philip Gidley King accompanied his father and continued as a midshipman in HMS Beagle on the continuing survey of Patagonia under Robert FitzRoy, in the company of Charles Darwin. King owned a property at Dunheved in the western suburbs of Sydney where he entertained Charles Darwin on Darwin’s last night in Sydney in 1836.

In 1839, King was appointed to the New South Wales Legislative Council, and in April the same year, was appointed resident commissioner of the Australian Agricultural Company, a position he held for ten years. In 1855 King was promoted to Rear admiral on the retired list. King was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Oxley
1784 – 25 May 1828


John Oxley

John Oxley was born in 1784 at Kirkham Abbey near Westow in Yorkshire, Great Britain. He was baptised at Bulmer in Yorkshire on 6 July 1784.

In 1799, he entered the Royal Navy when he was aged 16 as a midshipman on the Venerable. He travelled to Australia in October 1802 as master’s mate of the naval vessel Buffalo, which carried out coastal surveying (including the survey of Western Port). In 1805 Governor King appointed him acting lieutenant in charge of the Buffalo. In 1806 he commanded the Estramina on a trip to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). He returned to England in 1807 and was appointed first lieutenant of Porpoise. He came back to Sydney in November 1808 to take up an appointment as first lieutenant in HMS Porpoise, having sailed out as agent for the Transport Board in the convict ship Speke, in which he shipped goods worth £800 as an investment. In 1809 Porpoise visited Van Diemen’s Land, carrying as a passenger Governor William Bligh, who had been deposed in the Rum Rebellion.

He had obtained an order from the Colonial Office for a grant of 600 acres (240 ha) near the Nepean River, but Lieutenant-Governor Paterson granted him 1,000 acres (400 ha). Oxley had to surrender these in 1810, but Governor Macquarie granted him 600 acres (240 ha) near Camden which he increased in 1815 to 1,000 acres (400 ha) again. This he called Kirkham.

In 1810 he wrote a lengthy report on the settlements in Van Diemen’s Land before sailing for England in Porpoise in May. In London he applied for the post of Naval Officer in Sydney, and then, after paying Charles Grimes to resign, according to John Macarthur, he twice sought that of Surveyor-General. Oxley denied that he had been a partisan of Macarthur when Bligh was deposed, but his letters show that he was on very intimate terms with the rebel leader. In 1812 he became engaged to Elizabeth Macarthur; this was broken off when her father discovered the extent of Oxley’s debts. By that time, through the influence of Macarthur’s friend Walter Davidson, Oxley’s second application for the surveyor-generalship had been successful. In 1811 he had retired from the navy, and in May 1812 sailed for Sydney in the Minstrel to take up his new duties.

In March 1817 John Oxley was instructed to take charge of an expedition to explore and survey the course of the Lachlan River. He left Sydney on 6 April with George Evans as second-in-command, and Allan Cunningham as botanist. Evans had discovered a portion of the Lachlan River west of Bathurst in 1815. Oxley’s party reached Bathurst after a week, where they were briefly detained by bad weather. They reached the Lachlan River on 25 April 1817 and commenced to follow its course, with part of the stores being conveyed in boats. As the exploring party travelled westward the country surrounding the rising river was found to be increasingly inundated.

On 12 May, west of the present township of Forbes, they found their progress impeded by an extensive marsh. After retracing their route for a short distance they then proceeded in a south-westerly direction, intending to travel overland to the southern Australian coastline. By the end of May the party found themselves in a dry scrubby country. Shortage of water and the death of two horses forced Oxley’s return to the Lachlan River.

On 23 June the Lachlan River was reached: “we suddenly came upon the banks of the river… which we had quitted nearly five weeks before”.

They followed the course of the Lachlan River for a fortnight. The party encountered much flooded country, and on 7 July Oxley recorded that “it was with infinite regret and pain that I was forced to come to the conclusion, that the interior of this vast country is a marsh and uninhabitable”.

Oxley resolved to turn back and after resting for two days Oxley’s party began to retrace their steps along the Lachlan River. They left the Lachlan up-stream of the present site of Lake Cargelligo and crossed to the Bogan River and then across to the upper waters of the Macquarie River, which they followed back to Bathurst (arriving on 29 August 1817).

Oxley travelled to Dubbo on 12 June 1818. He wrote that he had passed that day ‘over a very beautiful country, thinly wooded and apparently safe from the highest floods…’

Later in 1818 Oxley and his men explored the Macquarie River at length before turning east. On 26 August 1818 they climbed a hill and saw before them rich, fertile land (Peel River), near the present site of Tamworth. Continuing further east they crossed the Great Dividing Range passing by the Apsley Falls on 13 September 1818 which he named the Bathurst Falls. He described it as “one of the most magnificent waterfalls we have seen”.

He discovered and named the Arbuthnot Range, since renamed the Warrumbungle Range. Upon reaching the Hastings River they followed it to its mouth, discovering that it flowed into the sea at a spot which they named Port Macquarie.

As Surveyor General, Oxley made a close examination of the Tweed River and Port Curtis, and sources connected that investigation, principally the manuscript journal kept by Oxley, and the published Narrative of John Uniack, who accompanied Oxley.

Oxley sailed northwards from the Tweed Area in the Mermaid to explore Port Curtis (the site of Gladstone) and Moreton Bay. He continued to explore the region, which is now known as South East Queensland. With the assistance of some shipwrecked sailors he discovered and named the Brisbane River, the site of the city of Brisbane.

In 1824 Oxley, accompanied by Allan Cunningham returned to the Brisbane River and travelling further up, discovered the Bremer River.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie granted him 600 acres (240 ha) near Camden in 1810, which he increased to 1,000 acres (400 ha) in 1815. He named this property Kirkham and raised and bred sheep. He was also briefly a director of the Bank of New South Wales. He was one of five members of the original 1824 New South Wales Legislative Council, but was not reappointed when the Council was reconstituted in 1825.

In August 1822, Oxley married Emma Norton, the youngest sister of James Norton who had followed her brother out to New South Wales from Sussex after he had established himself as an attorney in the colony.

Oxley and Emma Norton had two sons. The elder, John Norton Oxley and the younger son, Henry Oxley. Oxley also had two daughters out of wedlock before his marriage: one with Charlotte Thorpe and another with Elizabeth Marnon.

Oxley suffered with illness throughout his service, caused by the difficulties of his expeditions. He finally succumbed to his illness and died on 25 May 1828 at Kirkham.

Read Full Post »