George Strickland Kingston

Portrait of George Strickland Kingston

Sir George Strickland Kingston (1807-1880) was born and educated as a civil engineer in Ireland before pursuing a career in England. Kingston married Henrietta (Harriet) Ann McDonough in London in 1829. By Christmas 1830 they were living in Birmingham where Kingston gained employment as an engineer at the Birmingham Waterworks. After reading of the South Australian Association in January 1834 Kingston immediately wrote to Robert Gouger expressing his interest. In March 1834, after some encouraging words from Gouger, Kingston resigned his post in Birmingham and moved to London. He became involved with the Association, helping to lobby for the South Australian Act’s passage through the House of Commons in August 1834. By July 1835 the South Australian Colonisation Commission was in a position to appoint colonial officers and Kingston was given the position of assistant surveyor – a role he felt was beneath him. After some lobbying (and subsequent competition from Boyle Travers Finniss) Kingston was eventually appointed deputy surveyor general with Finniss assistant deputy surveyor. At 29 years of age Kingston was the youngest colonial officer to be appointed.

Kingston sailed for South Australia aboard the Cygnet in 1836. Of the married surveying party Kingston was the only one not to sail with his wife, believing the hardships too much for Harriet’s health. Harriet eventually joined Kingston in South Australia in 1838.

After ending his role as deputy surveyor general in 1838, Kingston became an architect/civil engineer, and was a shareholder in the South Australian Mining Association. Kingston went on to have a distinguished career in South Australian politics, entering the Legislative council in 1851. Once South Australia had gained responsible government, Kingston became the first speaker in the house of Assembly, he held this position almost continuously (apart from one five year break) until he left government in 1880. Kingston died soon after, whilst on a voyage to India.

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