Plaque for Australian Agricultural Company commissioner Rear Admiral Phillip Parker King
“I’m addicted to Australian history.” This is part of the reason Stroud resident and historian, Dr Jonathan King organised a costume drama to honour former Australian Agricultural Company (AA Co.) commissioner Rear Admiral Phillip Parker King.
The fact that Jonathan is the Rear Admiral’s great great grandson was another reason.
(Story published the Gloucester Advocate 15 May 2019)
On 2 May Stroud residents were treated to a theatrical performance outside Stroud House, one of the residences used by the AA Co commissioners, hence once a home to Rear Admiral King.
In a short performance written by Stroud thespian Anne Frost, the group of around 50 people, including the year five and six students from Stroud Public School, were taken on a journey back 170 years ago, to a time when Rear Admiral King and his wife Harriet spent time in Stroud.
Dressed in period costumes, Jonathan played the Rear Admiral, Jane King (Jonathan’s wife) played Harriet, while Anne Frost and several other Stroud residents played citizens, as they spoke of King’s exploration work and time with the AA Co. The performance was complete with a music by the Stroud Wind Assemble and singing by the Stroud Crowd Choir.
Rear Admiral King, who lived from December 13, 1791 to February 26, 1856, was appointed to explore the Australian coastline to consolidate the earlier work of Matthew Flinders. Taking part in four expeditions between 1817 and 1822, he made significant contributions to Australian exploration.
Jonathan’s interest in period reenactments started with the First Fleet Re-enactment Voyage he organised in Sydney Harbour on the 1988 Australian Bicentenary after discovering his family connection to Lieutenant Philip King, the third Governor of New South Wales.
His interest in colonial history came from his father, John King. “He was proud of our ancestry and the history of Australia,” Jonathan said. “There are such good stories to tell.”
And tell the stories he has, having written 30 books on the topic.
Jonathan’s connection to history is also what brought him to Stroud, having been asked to become a patron of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church. In 2003 he bought Stroud House, where he and his wife continue to live today.
Bringing his family connection full circle, Jonathan organised for a marble plaque to be erected in the church alongside the commemorations to other AA Co commissioners.
According to Jonathan, the company didn’t want to put up a plaque for his descendant due to a controversial end to his decade long reign as the company’s commissioner, a decision Jonathan was determined to remedy.
After seeking permission from the Newcastle Diocese Bishop, the plaque was hung and officially unveiled to the community on Sunday, May 5 following a festival Eucharist.
King held the position of commissioner of the Australian Agricultural Company from 1839 until 1849.