Philip Gidley King (1758-1808), governor, was born at Launceston, Cornwall, England, on 23 April 1758. King joined the navy as captain's servant in H.M.S. Swallow on 22 December 1770. He was commissioned lieutenant on 25 December 1778. In October 1786, as soon as Phillip had been nominated to command the expedition to New South Wales, he chose King as second lieutenant in the Sirius.
King had sailed for England in March 1790 on Phillip's orders to report on the difficulties of the whole settlement. In 1791 he returned to New South Wales and in November was back on Norfolk Island.
In October 1796 King left Norfolk Island for England to recover his health. King returned to New South Wales in 1800 and assumed the role of Governor on did not assume command until 28 September of that year.
King issued a host of orders which he had already prepared, including a new set of port and price regulations intended to curb exploitation and the liquor traffic.
During King's administration the government's flocks and herds increased. He also undertook a program of public works and supported a number of exploratory journeys. King’s relationship with the Indigenous inhabitants of New South Wales had a mixed success. Although he 'ever considered the real Proprietors of the Soil' and attempted to preserve a 'good understanding' with them he was not prepared to countenance any form of resistance.
King returned to England in February 1807 and pressed the Colonial Office for a pension, but died on 3 September 1808 before it was granted.