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James Stirling

(1791—1865) naval officer and colonial governor


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(1791–1865), first governor of WA, joined the Royal Navy as a boy of 12 and was promoted through officer ranks. As captain of the Success, he sailed for NSW in 1827 and later explored the continent's west coast, where he became convinced of its suitability for colonisation. In London, Stirling—related by marriage to a director of the East India Company—attracted investors and eventually won British government support for his plans. He sailed with wife Ellen and family on the Parmelia, and on 18 June 1829, the new colony was proclaimed. Stirling ruled as lieutenant-governor at first, and as full governor from 1831. With a grant of 100000 acres from the Crown, his own fortunes were inextricably entwined with those of his settlers. In 1834 he personally led a bloody raid against a Nyungar group near Pinjarra, which left 15–30 people dead. The once-popular governor suffered increasing criticism for his imperious and autocratic administration. Frustrated by the apparent lack of progress, he resigned his post and sailed from Fremantle in 1839, never to return. He resumed his naval career and, after long and distinguished service, was made an admiral. Stirling retired to Guildford, in Surrey, England, where he died.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.


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