Arthur Phillip
Australia Crest

Governor of New South Wales who settled the colony from the First Fleet in 1788.

Phillip was born in London in 1738, the son of a language teacher father from Germany.

Young arthur went to a seafaring school in Greenwich and later joined the merchant navy. He then transferred to the royal Navy and was made lieutenant in 1762 and being retired at the end of the Seven Years War in 1763.

He spent the next 15 years as a farmer in Hampshire before returning to the sea with the Portuguese Navy from 1774-78 in the war with Spain.

In 1778 he returned to the British Navy in the American War of Independence, becoming a captain in 1781.

In 1786 he was appointed as the first Governor of New South Wales and arrived with the First Fleet, reaching Botany Bay on HMAS Supply on 18th January, 1788. Finding this area unsuitable for settlement he headed for Port Jackson. He was instilled with a vision of a great south sea British outpost where everyone could live free and in harmony.

He also knew of the difficult trip ahead and the harsh conditions they would find on arrival in New South Wales and lobbied hard for sufficient equipment and supplies for the journey and set up period.

He set up the convict colony at Sydney Cove and governed sensibly and humanely despite the tough conditions, poor and short supply food, infertile land and eventual near-famine.

The first governor's residence was a portable canvas house brought over by Phillip on the First Fleet.

On April 15th, 1790, he applied to return to England, advising ill health from two years in the colony.

On September 7th, 1790, Phillip was speared by an aborigine named Willemereng at Manly Cove. The spear, owned by Bennelong, was barbed and made of metal. Lieutenant Henry Waterhouse, an ancestor of the Fine Cotton linked bookmaking dynasty, helped remove the spear from Phillip's right shoulder.

On 12th November, 1792 the ailing Phillip sailed for England with aborigine Bennelong.

He had hoped to return to Sydney when his health improved but instead found himself back in action in the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1789 he had been made a rear admiral and he became a full admiral before his death in 1814.

It was Arthur Phillip who, in 1788, coined the word gum tree for the Australian eucalypt.

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