Sir George Strickland Kingston

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About Sir George Strickland Kingston

Sir George Strickland Kingston

Kingston married three times, being widowed in his first two marriages. He married his first wife Henrietta Ann McDonough in 1829; she died ten years later and their only child died soon after childbirth. Six children were born to his second wife, Ludovina Catherina da Silva Cameron (daughter of soldier Charles Cameron (1779–1827), after their marriage on 10 April 1841. She died ten years later and Kingston married widow Emma Lipson (1816–1876), daughter of Thomas Lipson R.N., South Australia's first harbourmaster, on 4 December 1856 (no children resulted from this marriage).

  • His youngest daughter, Charlotte Julian Kingston (11 September 1845 – 20 May 1913) married Hubert Giles (21 October 1842 – 11 August 1901), son of William Giles, on 17 March 1880.
  • Strickland Gough "Pat" Kingston (1848–1897) married Kathleen Pittar Stanton in 1879. In 1894 she founded Yoothamurra School in Glenelg.
  • His youngest son, Charles Cameron Kingston (22 October 1850 – 11 May 1908) was Premier of South Australia from 1893 to 1899.


George Strickland Kingston was born in Bandon, Cork, Ireland, in August 1807, the son of timber merchant and landowner George Kingston and his wife Hester (née Holland). His future in his native land was curtailed by economic depression and in the 1820s he worked in England gathering experience in civil engineering. He returned briefly to Ireland to marry Henrietta (Harriet) Ann Stuart McDonough on 5th November 1829 and then spent two years in Birmingham working for water engineers before he committed himself to the South Australian Colonization scheme. He worked as an unpaid assistant from 1834, hoping to secure a position from the Commissioners. Without influence or contacts, his position was tenuous during the parliamentary delays in establishing the new private enterprise colony, but eventually he was offered the post of Deputy Surveyor-General under Colonel William Light. He sailed on the Cygnet in 1836.

Although Kingston had no experience as a surveyor, he initially formed a good partnership with Light and was the first man to explore the inland plain where Adelaide was eventually sited. It was he who, with John Morphett and Lieutenant William Field, discovered the River Torrens. When Light returned from Port Lincoln in December 1836, Kingston recommended the new site and supported his superior against the opposition of Governor Hindmarsh, who wanted the capital to be closer to its port. An acrimonious dispute erupted and it was Kingston who returned to London with the report that resulted in Hindmarsh’s recall. At the same time, the Colonization Commissioners wanted Light to hasten the survey and authorised Kingston to supplant him if he was unwilling to expedite matters. Light resigned and Kingston, despite his lack of surveying experience, took over the task, until he too was replaced. Recent analysis suggests that it was Kingston who was the principal designer of the Adelaide town plan, although the acclaim has gone to Colonel Light.

Under the new Governor, George Gawler, Kingston became Civil Engineer and Inspector of Public Works and began work on Government House, the Adelaide Gaol and a customs house at Glenelg. Government employment stopped with the collapse of the South Australian economy in the early 1840s and Kingston barely survived on the few private commissions he received as a self-taught architect. Surviving examples of his work include Ayers House, the original section of Adelaide Gaol and ‘Cummins’, the home he built for John Morphett. He also designed his family’s seaside home at Brighton, now known as Kingston House, and the first monument to Colonel Light in Light Square.

Fortune smiled again when he became a shareholder in the ‘Monster Mine’ at Burra, which made him a wealthy man. He eventually became a long-time director of the company and went on to represent the Burra district in the Legislative Council in 1851. His strong democratic leaning led him to fight for a broad franchise for the Lower House and he won a seat in the new House of Assembly in 1857, becoming its first Speaker. Described as an irascible Irishman, he garnered enemies by his persistent opposition to State aid for religion.

His first wife died in 1839 and on 10th April 1841 he married Ludovina Cameron, by whom he had six children, including Charles Cameron Kingston. Ludovina died in 1851 and Kingston married Emma Lipson on 4th December 1856. He became an establishment figure in Adelaide, walking the streets of the city with a silver-topped cane. He received a knighthood in 1870 and held his position as Speaker of the House of Assembly until his death on 26th November 1880 on a voyage to India for his health. He was buried at sea.

Sir George Strickland Kingston - SA Gov

Sir George Strickland Kingston

barque Cygnet arrived on 11th September 1836

"Whilst still in London, George, along with Boyle Travers Finniss, was to produce the strategy for the survey of South Australia (Langmead 1994:31).This survey, carried out by Colonel William Light, was intended to help ascertain a site for the new colony. George also constructed the plan for the city of Adelaide (Langmead 1994:31). He departed London on the 16th of March 1836, aboard the Cygnet. His wife Harriet remained in England.

Accounts of the voyage illustrate how George was disliked by many members of the surveying party (Langmead 1994:39). John Hindmarsh would often display annoyance with him and Finniss and Thomas Lipson were very antagonistic towards him and would remark about his leadership skills whilst onboard. He was remarked for his ‘unbecoming and ungentlemanly’ character by the other surveying members (The Southern Australian 1838:4)."

Kingston Family - Flinders University South Australia

Some of his buildings:

Architects Database Australian Biography

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Sir George Strickland Kingston's Timeline

August 23, 1807
Bandon, County Cork, Ireland
Age 28
Adelaide, South Australia
March 16, 1842
Adelaide, South Australia
October 30, 1843
Adelaide, South Australia
September 11, 1845
Adelaide, South Australia
May 26, 1847
December 18, 1848
Adelaide, South Australia
October 22, 1850
Adelaide, South Australia
November 26, 1880
Age 73
RMS Malwa, at sea, on passage to India