Arthur Phillip

Arthur Phillip (1738 – 1814)
Captain and Governor of New South Wales
11 October 1738, born London England
Aged 15 years Apprenticed into Mercantile Service
1775, Midshipman, Royal Navy
1774, seconded as Captain, Portuguese Navy
1781, promoted to Captain, Royal Navy
24 October 1786 hoisted his flag as Commodore in HMS Sirius as Captain-General for the proposed expedition to New South Wales
18 January 1788 sailed into Botany Bay in HMS Supply
26 January 1788 landed and unfurled British Flag, Sydney Cove
11 December 1792 sailed for England due to ill health
1796, resumed duties in the Royal Navy
1814, promoted to Admiral
31 August 1814 died at Bath England

Capt Phillip’s Far-Reaching Proposals – An Energetic Example
by our Special Correspondent

Captain Arthur Phillip

The survival and eventual success of the settlement founded at Sydney Cove will be a memorial to the genius and energy of the foundation governor, Captain Arthur Phillip.

The Governor has provided a splendid example for the pessimistic, the homesick, and the indolent by his great energy and courage.  Although some may see the settlement simply as a penal colony, the Governor believes otherwise.  He envisions it as a prosperous city of the future.

The settlement now comprises a collection of mud-daubed huts, tents for the military and a canvas house for the governor, and over all hangs the fear of famine.

Governor Phillip, a slight, dark, quick – moving man, has planned Sydney Town in detail, even while he exists on the same miserable rations as the commonality.  The settlement is laid out in an orderly fashion, marines being camped to the west of the Tank Stream, convicts to the east.

Old Government House, Parramatta NSW, January 1988 (Timbury)

The foundation stone of Government House, situated in the centre of the settlement, has been laid.  A hospital is being established on the waterfront.

The Governor proposes to lay out the future  town on generous lines, with wide street and land allotments no smaller than 60 feet by 150 feet.  Brick houses are expected to replace the tents and crude huts of green wood.  Suitable clay having been discovered at the Haymarket, and a convict come forward with necessary knowledge, the making of bricks has begun.

Memorial Stone for the First Government House, Parramatta NSW 2010 (Timbury)

In addition to fulfilling his administrative and judicial duties, Governor Phillip has led exploratory expeditions by land and water in search of fertile farming country.  He has walked for many miles through rough country and has been rowed along the coast to Broken Bay.  He discovered and named Pitt Water and the Hawkesbury River and, on the upper reaches of the Parramatta River, found a fertile farming which he named Rose Hill.

Australian Chronicle, Vol.1 1770-1790, No.1
Illustration of Captain Arthur Phillip: Picturesque Atlas of Australia,
edited by Andrew Garran: Illustrated under the supervision of Frederic B Schell, assisted by Leading Colonial and American Artists (1886-1888)

The Australia Chapel – St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Barthampton, England
While in England Rick and Beryl Stonehouse visited the Parish Church of St Nicholas, Barthampton, where Captain Arthur Phillip is buried.  The following article is reprinted from a booklet purchased from the church, describing the history and features of the church.

The Australia Chapel

St Nicholas Church at Bathampton, England (Wikipedia)

Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Australia in January 1788.  He selected a site which he named Sydney in honour of Lord Sydney, and he was officially appointed Governor-in-Chief of New South Wales on 7/2/1788.  He established a colony, governed and sustained it through many privations and returned to England in 1792.  When he retired he settled in Bath – after a short stay in Barthampton – and died in Bennett Street on 31/8/1814.  An entry in the Register of the Parish Church reads:

ARTHUR PHILLIP   Bennett Street Bath   76 years     Thos Hale. Curate

It was not until the year 1897 that any real interest in his achievement started.  In that year the New South Wales authorities made enquiries in the Bath area concerning the burial place of Arthur Phillip.  On 27/11/1897 Lancelot J Fish, Vicar of Barthampton wrote a letter to the Times newspaper in which he referred to the above entry in the Barthampton Burial Register, and also to his discovery of the grave of Arthur Phillip in the church.  The letter was published on 2/12/1897.  In it the Vicar argued for a more worthy memorial to the first Governor of New South Wales, but nothing appears to have been done at that time.

Between 1897 and 1967 the gravestone was renewed and, in comparatively recent years, an annual wreath laying ceremony was performed by the High Commissioner for Australia.  This occurs on 11th October, the date of Phillip’s birth.  In 1967 Gordon Spencer, Vicar of the Parish, proposed to the High Commissioner some more fitting arrangement than the plain tombstone situated, as it was, immediately inside the entrance to the church under the feet of everyone coming and going.  The first response to this was an appeal in Australia by the Fellowship of First Fleeters.  This resulted in a fund for the provision of some permanent Memorial.

Australia Chapel, St Nicholas Parish Church, Bathampton (Wikipedia)

The suggestion for an Australia Chapel in the south aisle of the church where the Memorial was situated took longer to be accepted.  After several years persistent pleading by the Vicar sufficient interest and support were forthcoming to justify the commissioning of plans.  These were prepared by Bath architect John Vivian.  Donations of #5,000 (pounds) each were received from three Australian firms; News International Ltd., Consolidated Gold Fields Ltd and Rio Tinto-Zinc Ltd, together with gifts from the Federal and State Governments, Australian organisations and individuals.

The Chapel was constructed in 1974, and was dedicated on 26/1/1975, by the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells assisted by the Archdeacon of Bath.  It includes a carved Memorial Screen with the words:

ARTHUR PHILLIP, 1738 – 1814

To construct the Chapel, all the seating and flooring of the south aisle were removed and the Font, which had been adjacent to a pillar, was placed centrally at the west end.  The floor was replaced by one of the Australian Wombeyan Marble specially cut and presented by the Hammerson Group of Companies, and transported free of charge from Australia by the P&O Line.  The Memorial Screen was made of Australian Blackbean wood  – as was all joinery work in the Chapel – and erected facing the entrance of the church.  All the woodwork was done by Herbert Read of Exeter.

An Altar and Sanctuary were placed at the east end of the aisle.  The Chapel chairs were hand-made to the Coventry Cathedral design and presented by State Capital Cities, many organisations and interested individuals, whose names are recorded on the back of each chair.  The altar cross and candlesticks were designed by Stuart Devlin, and presented by the Federal Government.  The two windows at the east end above the sanctuary were re-glazed and carry the coat-of-arms of the Federal Government and the six Australian States.  They were made by James Clark Eaton Ltd of Bristol.  The inscription on each is as follows:

The Federal Government                            Australia
New South Wales                                         Newly risen how brightly you shine
Victoria                                                          Peace and prosperity
Queensland                                                   Bold but faithful
South Australia                                             Faith and courage
Western Australia                                        Distinguished by its swans
Tasmania                                                       Productiveness and faithfulness

Kneelers for the sanctuary were given by Tasmania.  The window at the west end of the aisle was re-glazed with clear glass to provide full sunlight upon the Font.  A plaque on the south wall of the Chapel commemorates the Dedication service in these words.

Dedicated 26th January 1975
The right Reverend Edward B. Henderson, D.S.C., D.D.
Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells
G.C.C. Spencer – Vicar
M.J.A. Skipper and C.J. Sparrow – Churchwardens
J.V.J. Vivian – Architect

Arthur Phillip Memorial St Nicholas Parish Church, Barthampton (Wikipedia)

The memorial and Chapel were dedicated in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Avon, the High Commissioner of Australia, the Lord Mayor of London, and many other distinguished guests.  The sermon was preached by the Right Reverend Hugh Gough, formerly Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Sydney.  The service of the Holy Communion is said every week in the Chapel which is always open for private prayer.

Photographs: Wikipedia – free encyclopedia web site

Celebrating Australia’s Bi-centenary year 1988

1988 Bi-centenary plate, photographed in the Charleville Historical Museum Queensland 2010 (C Timbury)


1988 Bi-centenary year celebrated events throughout Australia, being 200 years since the First Fleet arrival.  The tall ships re-enactment drew crowds in major ports throughout their journey particularly on Sydney Harbour for the  Australia Day celebrations.





Governor Arthur Phillip Monuments

Friday, 15 February 1788 – The Governor gave this man a hatchet and a looking glass, to see if any person was there and then pointed to the glass and the shadows which he saw in the water signifying they were similar

Captain Arthur Phillip and Aboriginal Man he met in Looking Glass Bay NSW

Captain Arthur Phillip and Aboriginal Man he met in Looking Glass Bay NSW, unveiled on 21 September 2013 by Marie Bashir, NSW Governor



The Britain-Australia Society staged two major events for the bicentenary of the death of Admiral Arthur Philip, in Bath England, on 31 August 1814.

Westminster Abbey

Arthur Phillip Ledger Stone Westminister Abbey

Arthur Phillip Ledger Stone Westminister Abbey

A Memorial ledger stone, carved from Sydney sandstone, to Admiral Arthur Phillip was unveiled in the Nave of Westminster Abbey in central London on Wednesday 9 July 2014. The Duke of Edinburgh laid a wreath at the stone during an hour-long dedication service, which was also attended by the NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir.  During the service Dame Marie praised the admiral as being enlightened, far-sighted and indeed humane.

The Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall, described Arthur Phillip as a modest, yet world-class seaman, linguist and patriot, whose selfless service laid the secure foundations on which was developed the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Memorial ledger stone is set in the floor of the Nave, nearby to the grave of the unknown warrior, reads:

Admiral Arthur Phillip. Royal Navy 1738-1814. First Governor of NSW & founder of modern Australia. There is also small outline of a kangaroo on the stone.

Admiral Arthur Phillip Memorial
In Bath, where Phillip lived from 1806 to 1814 at 19 Bennett Street, a beautiful commemorative bronze armillary sphere mounted on a carved Bath Stone base was unveiled on Saturday 12 July 2014.

Sphere Sun Dial to Admiral Arthur Phillip

Sphere Sun Dial to Admiral Arthur Phillip

The Memorial is outside the Bath Assembly Rooms in the garden near the Northeast corner of the building. Facing the memorial, Admiral Phillip’s home for 8 years, is diagonally behind on the other side of Bennett Street (at number 19).

The art work had been commissioned from the internationally famous sundial maker David Harber, who collaborated with Somerset based stone carver Nigel Fenwick.

The inscriptions on the Base Plate read:

  • From May 1787 to January 1788, Phillip led the First Fleet of 11 ships, carrying just over a thousand souls, from the Solent 15,063 nautical miles via Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town to Botany Bay.
  • Phillip had sailed the Arctic and Mediterranean Seas, the Indian and North Atlantic Oceans, and now traversed the South Seas to Australia Finding Botany Bay unsuitable, Phillip investigated Port Jackson (now Sydney Harbour). He established the colony about Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay, Sydney), raising the flag there on 26 January 1788.
  • Phillip overcame extraordinary physical and other obstacles, serious drought and loss at sea of supplies, to establish an eventually successful colony and conduit to freedom.
  • Governor Phillip led and guided an enlightened and humanitarian regime with devotion, selfless determination, courage, prescience and vision; returning to England in his fifth year, for health reasons.
  • Phillip wanted to return to New South Wales but instead served in senior Royal Navy posts before retiring to Bath, where he lived with his wife Isabella, and whence he advised on the development of New South Wales, from 1806 to 1814.
  • Phillip’s British Admiralty official biography records: “Admiral Arthur Phillip, Scholar, Seaman and Gentleman, who founded the great city of Sydney, and the Island Continent of Australia”.



© First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc 2014