City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Arthur Phillip (1738-1814)
Admiral Arthur Phillip (11 October 1738 – 31 August 1814) was a Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales who founded the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia.
After much experience at sea, Phillip sailed with the First Fleet as Governor-designate of the proposed British penal colony of New South Wales. In January 1788, he selected its location to be Port Jackson (encompassing Sydney Harbour).
Phillip was a far-sighted governor who soon saw that New South Wales would need a civil administration and a system for emancipating the convicts. But his plan to bring skilled tradesmen on the voyage had been rejected, and he faced immense problems of labour, discipline and supply. His friendly attitude towards Aboriginal people was also sorely tested when they killed his gamekeeper, and he was not able to assert a clear policy about them.
The arrival of the Second and Third Fleets placed new pressures on the scarce local resources, but by the time Phillip sailed home in December 1792, the colony was taking shape, with official land-grants and systematic farming and water-supply.
Phillip retired in 1805, but continued to correspond with his friends in New South Wales and to promote the colony's interests.