Record Type
Person/Corporate Type
Date Born/Est
07 April 1783
Date Died/Ceased
06 June 1874
Place Of Birth
Biographical Display
"... Captain Henry King, first commissioner of the fledgling New Plymouth settlement. Born in Devonshire, England in 1783, he followed a traditional upbringing for boys of his time, joining the Royal Navy at age 12. His career in England was rather undistinguished and he retired early achieving the rank of Captain. By 1841 he was ready for a change, so he joined the Plymouth Company as a commissioner and sailed to New Plymouth with his wife Mary and twelve year old son William on the Amelia Thompson. He chose to set up a model farm on a fifty acre block he named Brooklands, building an extensive homestead there in 1842. Three years later Brooklands had become one of the highest producing farms in the area. He also became the resident magistrate in New Plymouth. He held this post for ten years and, through all his dealings, he was praised for his unwavering fairness when dealing with either Maori or Pakeha. This was particularly significant as it was during a period of fragile relations between the two cultures. When he retired from this post it was said that he was “without an enemy in the world.”
Nevertheless the First Taranaki War was traumatic for Henry King. King and his son William were forced to abandon the Brooklands home and seek shelter in town. William was killed during a surprise attack at the bottom of the Govett Avenue hill in 1861. Unfortunately, King had to endure more pain when his Brooklands homestead was burnt to the ground. A truce was reached soon after, but the damage had already been done. While King was able to return and rebuild his estate all that remained of the house was a lone chimney, which is still there today. Captain Henry King died on June 6th, 1874 at 91 years of age. He was buried in St. Marys Churchyard. He was described as “a man who exercised his many qualities of intelligence and personality in the interests of the community.” Source: Word on the street article researched and written by Taranaki Research Centre staff at Puke Ariki. King Street in New Plymouth is named after him. This article was published on 6 October 2012 and is also available online at


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