James Macarthur: Colonial Conservative 1798-1867
Sydney University Press, 345 pb, $29, 0 424 00087 3
Philip Gidley King: A biography of the third governor of New South Wales
by Jonathan King & John King
Methuen, 165 pp, $19.95, 0 454 004 451
The paths of James Macarthur and Philip Gidley King crossed in 1801 when Macarthur was a very small boy. King, then governor of New South Wales, sent Macarthur’s father, John, to England for trial for illicit duelling, fearing that Macarthur Senior had too many allies in the colony to secure a conviction there. Young James Macarthur was six by the time his father returned, far from the chastened man King had hoped. In fact, he brought with him instructions that he was to be granted additional land, making his holdings the most substantial in the colony. It was not exactly the victory that King had envisaged (or that his biographers seem to think he won.)
Later King’s son, Phillip Parker King, who was more of an age with James Macarthur, settled in New South Wales and the two found some common cause as landowners. Thereafter however the Kings’s main claim to greatness was their robust reproductiveness, and hundreds of descendants will form the initial readership for this basically commemorative life of the founder of the family.