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King, Thomas (1833–1886)

from South Australian Advertiser

We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. Thomas King, formerly one of the proprietors of this paper, which occurred in London on Saturday. The health of the deceased gentleman, which had long been failing him, induced him to take a trip to England in order to seek the best medical advice there, and he sailed in the Shannon in March of last year. In England he consulted Sir William Jenner and Sir James Thompson, but it has been known to his family and his friends for some time past that there was but little chance of his recovery, and the announcement of his death will not occasion much surprise. Returned colonists gave deplorable accounts of the state of his health, and reported that he was but a mere shadow of his former self; in fact that he had latterly become so ill that it was painful to be in his company. Dr. Davies Thomas saw him in England, and under his advice Mr. King changed his doctor. Some hope was entertained that benefit might result, but this was hardly shared in by Dr. Thomas. The position of the deceased gentleman during his last illness must have been sad indeed. Although in a crowded city he complained of feeling very lonely—so far away from most of his relatives and his numerous friends. Pathetic indeed it was to read that letters from Australia were like "gleams of sunshine." In spite of his feebleness, up to the dispatch of the last letters he was hopeful; in fact it was a case of hope against hope. He saw that it was probable he would never leave England, but his hopeful disposition made him look forward to being once again in Australia. Our London correspondent writing on October 15, said—"I saw Mr. King the other day. I fear his state is very critical, though he talks hopefully of getting away next month."

Mr. King was born at Stony Stratford, in Buckinghamshire, on February 14, 1833, and was thus in his 53rd year at the time of his death. His father, Mr. William King, arrived in the colony in 1852, and it will be remembered was drowned off the yacht Haidee in February, 1883. Mr. Thomas King, who soon after his arrival entered the Customs Department, was associated with the Advertiser from its earliest days. He joined the paper when it was produced by a company, and rose to the position of accountant, his abilities in that position being very marked. The property passed from the company into the hands of a proprietary of eight gentlemen, viz., the Hon. R. A. Tarlton, Messrs. C. H. Goode, J. Counsell, W. Parkin, G. Chinner, T. Graves, J. H. Barrow, and T. King. Mr. King was included in the proprietary in consequence of the general recognition of the able assistance which he would be able to render in the management. Some years passed on and then Mr. Barrow and Mr. King bought out the other members of the company. Subsequently Mr. King purchased the interest of Mr. Barrow's widow, taking into partnership Messrs. Burden and Bonython, and eventually selling out to those gentlemen.

Mr. King's first introduction into public life was in connection with municipal affairs. Residing as he did for a considerable period at Dunrobin, Brighton, he was asked to accept the position of mayor of that town. This he did, and he filled the office so satisfactorily that he was mayor for three years. His election to the mayoralty paved the way to the representation in the House of Assembly for the district of the Sturt, of which Brighton forms a part. When the present Chief Justice was appointed to his position he had, of course, to resign his seat in the Assembly, and Mr. King becoming, at the request of a large number of electors, a candidate for the vacancy thus created, was on March 24, 1876, chosen a representative of the Sturt district. In 1878 Mr. King and his colleague, the late Mr. Townsend, were returned unopposed, and in November of the same year the subject of this notice became Minister of Education in the Morgan Ministry in succession to Mr. R. Rees. Mr. King continued to act as Minister of Education until 1881, when, finding the duties too much for his health, he resigned, and went to England via America. As a Minister of the Crown he secured for himself an excellent reputation as an administrator, his business capacity and painstaking attention to the work of his office enabling him to discharge his duties with credit to himself and satisfaction to the Ministry of which he was a member. He returned to Australia in 1882, and while absent in Melbourne he was nominated for the district of Onkaparinga, and in spite of his not having had time to address the electors was nearly returned as a representative of that district. In 1883 he was once more chosen to serve the district of Sturt.

While the first trip to England had done much to reinstate Mr. King's health, and it was hoped that many years of usefulness were before him, as time went on the old symptoms of disease redeveloped themselves, with the result that acting under advice he determined to free himself as much as possible from care and responsibility. In consequence he decided to again visit Europe, and in March of last year he sailed from the colony. Before leaving the Government made him an honorary commissioner in connection with the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. This was a recognition of his public services which was much appreciated by Mr. King. The respect held for him in his own district was manifested by the fact that two banquets were given to him, and the opportunity was taken by the employees connected with the Advertiser to present him with an address expressive of high esteem and cordial good will. Mr. King was twice Mayor of Glenelg, and vice-president of the Municipal Association. He was also a member of the Hospital Board, and was elected by the country institutes a member of the Public Library Board. He largely owed his position in politics and municipal matters to his personal popularity. He knew everybody, and everybody knew him, and to know him was to like and to esteem him. He was always ready to help those in need, and was in fact generous to a fault. More regret will be felt at the death of Mr. King than at the loss of many men who have occupied more distinguished positions. He bound people to him by ties of friendship rather than by ties of political interest. Those who had worked with him were always willing to work for him, and in this fact is to be found the explanation of his extreme popularity in the district of Sturt. The deceased gentleman leaves a widow, a brother (Mr. Wm. King) who is now in Melbourne, one sister, a son (Mr. Albert E. King), three other sons, and four daughters, including Mrs. J. Storrie, jun.

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Citation details

'King, Thomas (1833–1886)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/king-thomas-13600/text24339, accessed 23 July 2018.

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