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Sir John Hindmarsh (1785–1860)

The following obituary notice of Sir John Hindmarsh, first Governor of South Australia, who died July 29, at the advanced age of 78 years is taken from the Army and Navy Gazette of August 11 : —

"We regret to announce the death of Sir John Hindmash, which occurred in London a few days since. Sir John entered the navy in 1793. He served in the Bellerophon in Lord Howe's action, June 1, 1794; in Cornwallis's retreat, and at the battle of the Nile. For his conduct in this latter action, when in temporary command of the Bellerophon, he received the public thanks of Lord Nelson, and was presented with a sword by the officers of his own ship. He served under Sir James Saumarez in the battle of Algesiras and the Straits of Gibraltar, and a lieutenant at Trafalgar. He also served under Lord Cochrane at the Basque Roads, Flushing, and the capture of the West India Islands. He was the first Governor of the colony of South Australia, and was Governor of Heligoland from 1840 to 1856. He had received a medal and seven clasps, and at the time of his death attained the rank of Rear-Admiral."

The following additional particulars respecting the late, veteran's heroic conduct at the battle of the Nile are extracted from the first number of the South Australian Register, published London, June 18, 1836, being a portion of the report of a speech delivered by Colonel Torrens, at a public dinner given to Sir John (then Captain) Hindmarsh, previous to his departure for South Australia: —

"At the battle of the Nile, Captain Hindmarsh was a midshipman on board the Bellerophon, and so destructive was the fire of the enemy that for some time he was the only officer left upon the quarter-deck. He received a wound in the head which deprived him of the sight of one eye, but he did not quit his post. The enemy's ship, L'Orient, caught fire; the flames threatened to communicate to the Bellerophon. How did Captain Hindmarsh conduct himself on this trying occasion? Being the only officer upon deck, the young midshipman ordered the topsail to be set and the cable to be put, and thus saved the ship from destruction. He had his proud reward; Nelson himself thanked the young hero before the assembled officers and crew. These thanks Nelson repeated on the deck of the Victory, when he presented Captain Hindmarsh with his lieutenant's commission."

Captain Hindmarsh sailed from England in H.M.S. Buffalo, 480 tons, which entered the harbour of Port Lincoln December 24, 1836, where the barque Cygnet was then lying waiting His Excellency's arrival; Colonel Light having in the meantime ascertained that the most desirable locality for the metropolis would be on the eastern shores of Gulf St. Vincent. The Buffalo, in company with the Cygnet, then sailed direct for Holdfast Bay, where His Excellency and suite were landed on the morning of the 28th. On the same day His Excellency formally proclaimed the province, the several officers of the Government were sworn in, and His Excellency's commission was read to about 200 of the early settlers. The locality was named 'Glenelg;' the British flag being displayed under a royal salute, the marines firing a feu de joie, and the Buffalo, saluting the Governor with 15 guns.

His Excellency remained nearly two years in the colony and was succeeded in the administration of the Government by Colonel Gawler, who arrived October 12, 1838. Her Majesty conferred upon Captain Hindmarsh the honour of knighthood.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Hindmarsh, Sir John (1785–1860)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Sir John Hindmarsh, 1856

Sir John Hindmarsh, 1856

State Library of South Australia, B 11165

Life Summary [details]




29 July, 1860 (aged ~ 75)
London, Middlesex, England

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