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This Day in History

Born on this day

Saturday, October 11, 1738. :   Captain Arthur Phillip, first Governor of New South Wales, is born.

     Arthur Phillip was born in London on 11 October 1738. He joined the Royal Navy when he was fifteen, and alternately earned a living as a navy officer and as a farmer. In October 1786, Phillip was appointed Governor-designate of the proposed British penal colony of New South Wales. He was a practical man who suggested that convicts with experience in farming, building and crafts be included in the First Fleet, but his proposal was rejected. The First Fleet left Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787, and arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Phillip immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on 26 January 1788.

Phillip faced many obstacles in his attempts to establish the new colony. British farming methods, seeds and implements were unsuitable for use in the different climate and soil, and the colony faced near-starvation in its first two years. Phillip also worked to improve understanding with the local Aborigines. The colony finally succeeded in developing a solid foundation, agriculturally and economically, thanks to the perseverance of Captain Arthur Phillip.

Poor health forced Phillip to return to England in 1792. He resigned his commission soon after arriving back in England, and died on 31 August 1814.

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