Hunter, John

John Hunter (1737-1821), admiral and governor, was born on 29 August 1737 at Leith.

In 1755 he was enrolled as an able seaman and after fifteen months became a midshipman.

In February 1760 Hunter qualified for promotion as a lieutenant, but he remained without a commission until 1780. When the First Fleet was being organised in 1786, H.M.S. Sirius was detailed to convoy it. Hunter was appointed second captain of the vessel under Governor Arthur Phillip with the naval rank of captain.  On 2 October 1788 Hunter sailed in the Sirius for the Cape of Good Hope and returned to New South Wales on 8 May 1789.

As a result of the loss of the Sirius on Norfolk Island Hunter returned to England and reached Portsmouth in April 1792. He published An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, With the Discoveries That Have Been Made in New South Wales and the Southern Ocean Since the Publication of Phillip's Voyage (London, 1793).

Hunter returned to the Colony as Governor in September 1795. Hunter was responsible for the administration of a colony that had a convict population of approximately 60 per cent with the remainder consisting of the garrison, administrative officers and expirees.  The trade in alcohol was beginning to cause social problems, economic problems and discipline within the New South Wales Corps.

Hunter was recalled by dispatch dated 5 November 1799. On 28 September 17800 he handed over the government to Lieutenant-Governor.

Hunter arrived in England in May 1801, and requested a public inquiry into the charges made against his administration. No inquiry was held but a reappraisal of his positionallowed him to receive a pension of £300 for his services in New South Wales.

He was promoted rear admiral on 2 October 1807, and vice-admiral on 31 July 1810. Hunter died at Hackney, London on 13 March 1821.

Text Category