John Hindmarsh

John Hindmarsh

Rear-Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh KH RN (1785 [There is evidence that his parents married on 23 August 1784. Although he could have been born out of wedlock some years earlier, the marriage date is consistent with his baptism as an infant on 22 May 1785. A member of the Hindmarsh family claimed in 1965 to have seen the parish register recording the 1785 baptism. — ADB Online Project ] – 29 July 1860) was the first Governor of South Australia, from 28 December 1836 to 16 July 1838.__NOTOC__

Naval career

Hindmarsh joined the Royal Navy in 1793, seeing action at the Battle of the Glorious First of June, the Battle of Algeciras Bay (or the Battle of the Gut of Gibraltar) and at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 where he was briefly the only officer on the deck of HMS Bellerophon where he gave orders which saved the ship from destruction. He was promoted lieutenant in 1803. He served on HMS Phoebe at the Battle of Trafalgar, at the Battle of the Basque Roads (1809) on HMS Beagle and at the Battle of Java on HMS Nisus. A period of inaction followed, but in 1830 he was in command of HMS Scylla and was made a Rear Admiral in 1831. In 1836 he went to South Australia as its first governor after winning influential support and applying the Colonial Office. When the Naval General Service Medal, designed by William Wyon, was introduced, it was discovered that only 2 people were entitled to the medal with seven clasps (one clasp for each battle the recipient took part in): Sir John Hindmarsh and Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Alexander Gordon.


Hindmarsh arrived in South Australia in 28 December 1836, with a fleet of ships carrying the first British settlers for the colony. The ships in the fleet included the "Cygnet" (carrying Colonel William Light's surveyors), "Africaine", "Tam O'Shanter", "Rapid", and "Buffalo" (carrying Hindmarsh). Initially they landed on Kangaroo Island, and sent out the team of surveyors led by Light to find a suitable place for the capital city of the new colony. Hindmarsh wanted it near the mouth of the Murray River, instead of at the present site which had been selected by Light. Light eventually chose the site of Adelaide, and the fleet moved up the Gulf of Saint Vincent to Holdfast Bay, off the present-day suburb of Glenelg. The proclamation creating the colony was read on 28 December 1836 under the Old Gum Tree.

There was some question as to the respective powers of the governor and the resident commissioner, James Hurtle Fisher, and the two came into open conflict. Feeling ran high and when Hindmarsh went so far as to suspend Robert Gouger and other public officers, the commissioners brought the matter before the secretary of state for the colonies. Hindmarsh was then recalled to London in 1838. In 1840 he was made as Lieutenant-Governor of Heligoland. Hindmarsh was knighted by Queen Victoria on 7 August 1851, attained the rank of rear-admiral in 1856 and retired in 1856 to the seaside town of Hove, England.


Hindmarsh lived at 30 Albany Villas for a number of years, where there is now a plaque in his honour. Rear-Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh died in London on 29 July 1860 and is buried in the grounds of St Andrews Church, Hove. Hindmarsh was governor of South Australia for little more than a year, an unfortunate episode in an otherwise distinguished career. His position was anomalous from the start, and, though he was sometimes wanting in both tact and wisdom, his difficulties were great. For an interesting summary see A. Grenfell Price's "Founders and Pioneers of South Australia", p. 92. His daughter Jane married Alfred Miller Mundy MP of Shipley Hall, Derbyshire, and was the mother of Maria, who married Sir Constantine Phipps, father of ambassador Sir Eric Phipps

Places named after John Hindmarsh

*The Adelaide suburb of Hindmarsh was originally laid out as a speculative subdivision, the Village of Hindmarsh, on land owned by him. It was for many years the centre of a Local Government Area called the Town of Hindmarsh, which has now been amalgamated into the City of Charles Sturt.
*The Division of Hindmarsh federal electorate takes in the area near the proclamation site.
*Hindmarsh Island is near the town of Goolwa, close to the Murray Mouth.
*The Hindmarsh River flows into Encounter Bay south of Adelaide.
*Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide is an open space public park within the City of Adelaide.
*Hindmarsh Drive runs through the districts of Weston Creek and South Canberra in Canberra, Australia.

External links

* [ Letters Patent]
* [ the proclamation handwritten notes]


*Dictionary of Australian Biography|First=John|Last=Hindmarsh|Link=
*' [ Hindmarsh, Sir John (1785 - 1860)] ', "Australian Dictionary of Biography", Volume 1, MUP, 1966, pp 538-541.
*"From Powder Monkey to Governor, the Life of Rear Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh", F Stewart Hindmarsh, Access Press 1995, ISBN 0 949795 88 7

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