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Biographical entry King, James (1800 - 1857)

29 November 1857
London, England
Merchant and Vigneron


James King was one of the first settlers in the Hunter Valley area to achieve reasonable success in viticulture. He also promoted the use of white Sydney sand for export to England to manufacture crystal ware and microscope lenses. Although prohibitive freight charges prevented this scheme, his discovery was recognised by the London Society of Arts and Manufactures with the award of its silver medal in 1837.


Born Hertfordshire, England, 1800. Died London, 29 November 1857. Arrived Sydney 1827; wheat and cattle property, Irrawang, from ca 1828, at first continuing his work in Sydney as importer and purchaser of colonial produce, as well as his involvement in whaling and shipping ventures; settled at Irrawang ca 1835, making pottery; planted vineyard there 1832, using Spanish, French and Portuguese vines; made his first wine 1836; won gold medal, Horticultural Society of Sydney for white wines and light sparkling wines 1850, 1852; medal, Paris Exhibition 1855, with some of his wine being served at the table of Emperor Napoleon III. Wrote Australia May Be an Extensive Wine-growing Country (1857). Founder and first president, Hunter River Vineyard Association 1853. Commemorated by James King of Irrawang travelling scholarship, University of Sydney (endowed 1888).

Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • James King - Records, 1826 - 1920, ML MSS 682; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Ilbery, J., 'History of Wine in Australia' in Australia and New Zealand Complete Book of Wine, Evans, L., ed. (Sydney: Hamlyn, 1973). Details
  • Macmillan, David S., 'King, James (1800-1857)' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Douglas Pike, ed., vol. 2 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1967), pp. 54-55. Details

Journal Articles

  • Rae, Ian D. and Brock, William H., 'Liebig's Australian Connection: James King's Scientific Viticulture', Historical Records of Australian Science, 24 (2013), 189-206. Details


See also

McCarthy, G.J. & Rosanne Walker