LAST MODIFIED Saturday 25 November 2017 8:29

King family of musicians

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "King family of musicians", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 18 December 2017


Edward KING (1814-1894)

Thomas KING (d.1881)

Henry John KING (senior)


Henry John KING (junior)

Edward Mendelssohn Bach KING

George Frederick KING

George Oscar KING

Charles Horatio KING

And several more


Summary (family):

Most, perhaps all, of these singers and instrumentalists belonged to a single extended family, active in Melbourne from 1854. There are certainly duplications, and in due course, the more important of them will have individual entries. For now, however, with a view to fathoming their relationships with each other (or, in one or two instances, perhaps not), a single family entry must suffice.

According to a much later biography of Henry John King junior, born in Melbourne in 1855, his parents Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. King senior arrived in Melbourne on board the Indian Queen, a clipper ship that sailed to and from Liverpool in 1853-55.

In the Argus in June 1854, "MR. EDWARD KING, leader at the Salle de Valentino" advertised that he "provides Bands for Quadrille Parties. Harp, violin, piano, guitar, taught". Immediately beneath appeared an ad by "MR. THOMAS KING, late First Clarionet, Surry Theatre, London, Leader Montpellier Band, Cheltenham, and Second Somerset Militia Band, Bath, provides bands and teaches music." "MR. E. KING" gave his second grand concert at the Marco Polo Hotel, Melbourne, in July 1854, and "Mons. E. King", professor of music and piano tuner, advertised his removal to Emerald Hill in January 1855.

By October 1856, Edward was leading the band under George Loder for Anna Bishops Melbourne concerts. He led the band of the Melbourne Philharmonic in 1857 and 1860, and played second violin to Miska Hauser in a Beethoven quartet at the latter's Melbourne concert in February 1857. A "Mr. T. King" was also a clarinet player in Ballarat in 1858-59. In April 1858, he and several colleagues accepted a challenge from a rival Ballarat Band:

MR. T. KING, leader of the Montezuma Band, and five others are prepared to accept the challenge of the Star Band, if there is no shenanigan. Three Events. String band, wind band, man to man, as soloists. The best of two events to received the stakes of [pounds] 100. T. KING, Specimen Hill, Ballarat, 21st April, 1858.

Back in July 1854, the Argus reported that Mr. King, the clarionettist, and his daughter Miss Juliana King appeared with Fleury's band at the Salle de Valentino in July 1854; Juliana (actually daughter of Edward King) according to the paper "a young lady nine years of age, who, I was told, appeared for the first time in Melbourne ... was quite a favourite at Bristol, and ought to be heard to better advantage than in a large canvas-covered building like the Salle de Valentino". During 1855, she was billed as "the Infant Sappho" (to Swannell's "Australian Nightingale"). By the 1860s, she was singing regularly in oratorio, both in Melbourne and Ballarat.

In July 1857, one "J. HALL" begged "leave to inform the friends of Mr. Henry J. King, Organist, Pianist, and Singer, that he is expected to arrive at Melbourne in a few days by the ship Commodore Perry, with a choice selection of new Music". In November 1857, H. J. King [senior] appeared as pianist for Maria Chalker and violinist George Peck, while "Mr. King (of the Bath Concerts)", presumably Edward, led the orchestra conducted by John Russell for the Melbourne Philharmonic.

In January 1859, H. J. King advertised as "Professor of the Organ, Pianoforte, and Singing, teacher at the Church of England Grammar School" from his home in Nelson-place, Emerald Hill. E. King, violin and H. J. King, piano, appeared together in a concert with clarinettist Gustav Faure at the Wesleyan Bazaar, Emerald Hill, in December 1863. Several members of the King family played leading roles in the premiere of George Tolhurst's Ruth in Prahran in January 1864.

Born in Melbourne in 1855 Henry John King junior was in Portland, Victoria, in 1873, where he was organist of St. Stephen's Church and a teacher of music, but by April 1876 he had reportedly been at Castlemaine for two years where he was conductor of the Castlemaine Philharmonic Society. In May 1876, the Launceston Examiner reported that his father: "Mr. H. J. King, of Melbourne, professor of music, advertises that he proposes taking up his residence in Launceston shortly. Mr. King was organist of St. James's Cathedral, and music master of the Church of England Grammar School. He has also been piano-conductor for the Italian-Opera Company", though the report went on to confuse King senior with his son.

This confusion was clarified when a new song, Wait and Hope was published in September 1876, when the Launceston Examiner reported: "The words are by Eliza Anna King, and the music has been composed by Mr Henry John King, son of Mr. King, of this town"; and in the Melbourne Argus: "composed by Henry John King, of Castlemaine, on words written by Eliza Anna King. Mr. King is a rising musician, and one of the well-known King family of Melbourne." In 1888, he won the competition for the Inaugural Cantata for the Centennial International Exhibition in Melbourne (see He dedicated his Te Deum and Jubilate in D to his brother Edward Mendelssohn Bach King, who from around 1890 until his death in 1918 was organist of Newcastle Cathedral, NSW.


[2 advertisements], The Argus (3 June 1854), 8

"THE SALLE DE VALENTINO", The Argus (4 July 1854), 5

[Advertisement], The Argus (29 July 1854), 8 article4795724

[Advertisement], The Argus (23 October 1854), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (9 November 1854), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (18 November 1854), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (23 January 1855), 3

[Advertisement], The Argus (7 May 1855), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (16 June 1855), 8

"PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS AT MELBOURNE", The Courier (22 June 1855), 3

"CONCERT AT THE EXHIBITION", The Argus (16 July 1855), 5

[Advertisement], The Argus (7 May 1856), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (25 October 1856), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (14 February 1857), 8

"MISKA HAUSER'S CONCERT", The Argus (24 February 1857), 5


[Advertisement], The Argus (18 July 1857), 7

[Advertisement], The Star (28 September 1857), 3

[Advertisement], The Argus (3 November 1857), 8

[Advertisement], The Star (22 April 1858), 3

[Advertisement], The Star (29 September 1858), 3

"MONTEZUMA PROMENADE CONCERTS", The Star (6 October 1858), 2

"PRINCESS'S THEATRE", The Argus (4 November 1858), 5

[Advertisement], The Argus (21 January 1859), 8


[Advertisement], The Argus (12 April 1859), 8

[News], The Argus (7 March 1860), 5

[News], The Argus (26 December 1860), 4

"ST. PATRICK'S CHURCH FESTIVAL", The Star (10 November 1863), 2

[Advertisement], The Argus (5 December 1863), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (16 January 1864), 8

"RUTH, A NEW SACRED ORATORIO", The Argus (22 February 1864), 5

"BALLARAT EAST PUBLIC LIBRARY", The Star (20 September 1864), 3

"THEATRE ROYAL", The Star (24 October 1864), 2s

"DEATHS", The Argus (19 March 1866), 5

[Advertisement], The Portland Guardian (6 June 1873), 3

[News], The Argus (28 April 1876), 5

"MR. H. J. KING", Launceston Examiner (2 May 1876), 3

"NEW MUSIC", Launceston Examiner (16 September 1876), 6

"NEW MUSIC", The Argus (22 September 1876), 7

"DEATHS", The Argus (22 March 1883), 1


"THE MUSIC", The Argus (2 August 1888), 4s

"DEATHS", The Argus (29 October 1894), 1


"DIVORCE COURT", The Sydney Morning Herald (19 March 1902), 4

"DEATHS", The Argus (3 June 1902), 1

"DEATH OF MR. EDWARD KING", Singleton Argus (17 December 1918), 2

[Advertisement; probate of Edward Mendelssohn Bach King, musician], The Sydney Morning Herald (21 December 1918), 11

"PERSONALITIES", The Queenslander (28 December 1918), 16

"MR. HENRY JOHN KING", The Brisbane Courier (24 April 1933), 11

"Obituary. Mr. H. J. King", The Courier-Mail (28 June 1834), 18

"MR. H. J. KING", The Sydney Morning Herald (5 July 1934), 7



KING, Edward

Professor of Music, violinist, orchestral leader

Born Bristol, England, March 1814
Arrived Melbourne, VIC, 1854 (? 1853 per Indian Queen, from Liverpool)
Died Kyabram, VIC, 26 October 1894, in his 81st year


[Advertisement], The Argus (3 June 1854), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (20 February 1882), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (13 January 1883), 16

[News], The Argus (29 October 1894), 5

"DEATHS", The Argus (29 October 1894), 1

"DEATH OF A WELL KNOWN MUSICIAN", Bendigo Advertiser (31 October 1894), 2

The death of Mr. Edward King is announced. The deceased gentleman was of an illustrious family, having on his father's side come from John of Gaunt, son of Edward III by his wife Philippe of Hainault, and on his mother's side from the Earl of Tyron, the O'Neills-Kings of Ireland and peers of England. The Age says: - The announcement of the death of Mr. Edward King, a veteran violinist, who for nearly 30 years led the orchestra of the Melbourne Philharmonic Society, will occasion widespread regret. Some months ago Mr. King, who belonged to a family of musicians well known in many parts of the colony, removed from Melbourne to Kyabram, and it was there that his demise took place. Mr. King was born in Bristol, in England, in the year 1814, just before the battle of Waterloo, and consequently had reached the ripe age of 80 years. In early childhood he developed great talent for music, and even at 14 years of age was a proficient player, not only of stringed instruments, but also of the clarionet, oboe and flute, all of which he learned without the aid of a master. He subsequently had the advantage of playing under the old English leaders, Loder, Balfe, Cramer and others. He arrived in Victoria in 1854 in the Black Ball liner, the Indian Queen, commanded by Captain Mills, and was immediately engaged to take part in the concerts which were taking place at that time, and which were of a very high class character. He shortly became leader of the Philharmonic Society, and only during the last few years retired from the position. Mr. King was undoubtedly the father of the profession in this colony. He was twice married, his first wife and only daughter being among those who were lost by the sinking of the London in the Bay of Biscay some 29 years ago, as they were returning to Melbourne after a visit to England. During the rehearsal of the Melbourne Liedertafel on Monday night, Mr. H. J. King, the conductor, announced the death of his uncle, Mr. Edward King, who was the oldest musician in this colony, and for over 40 years had quietly and honestly served his art. The choir then sang its "death song," each member of the choir rising as a tribute of respect to a familiar and honored name.

"MUSIC. CONCERTS, &c.", The Australasian (3 November 1894), 31

"MUSICAL NOTES", The Advertiser (10 November 1894), 6



Elder brother of Thomas KING

KING, Henry John (senior)

Professor of music, vocalist, pianist, conductor, schoolmaster

Arrived Melbourne, VIC, ? 1854 (?1853), by 1855
Died Newcastle, NSW, 16 December 1888, aged 56


[Advertisement], The Argus (3 November 1857), 8

"Deaths", The Argus (19 December 1888), 1

[News], The Argus (19 December 1888), 7

The death is announced of Mr. H. J. King, one of a large family of musicians who established themselves in Melbourne as far back as 1854. The only one now living is Mr. Edward King, the violinist, of South Yarra. The late Mr. H. J. King had been living in retirement in Newcastle, New South Wales, recently, but was for nearly fifteen years the organist in St. James's Cathedral, Melbourne, and for about the same period of time professor of music in the Church of England Grammar School, which he entered on its foundation. Mr. King's eldest son is the composer of the cantata for the inauguration of the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition. Mr. King received his musical education in England, having studied for years with the late Dr. Corfe, and afterwards receiving lessons in orchestration from Sir Michael Costa.

"DEATH OF A MUSICIAN", Bendigo Advertiser (20 December 1888), 2

"Obituary: MR. H. J. KING", Australian Town and Country Journal (29 December 1888), 17


Younger brother of Edward KING and Thomas KING; father of Henry John KING (junior), Edward Mendelssohn Bach KING, and George Frederick KING 

KING, Thomas

Violinist, clarinettist, clarionet and viola player, bass vocalist

Born Clifton, Bristol, England
Arrived Melbourne, VIC, 1854 (? 1853)
Died Ballarat, VIC, 18 February 1881, aged 61


"LATEST INTELLIGENCE", Bendigo Advertiser (18 February 1881), 2

"LATEST INTELLIGENCE", Bendigo Advertiser (19 February 1881), 3

"DEATH OF AN OLD BALLARAT RESIDENT", Bendigo Advertiser (19 February 1881), 2

"LATEST INTELLIGENCE", Bendigo Advertiser (21 February 1881), 2

"THE LATE MR. THOMAS KING", The Mercury (22 February 1881), 2

The Ballarat Star reports that Mr. Thomas King, for many years a musical leader in theatres, died suddenly last week. "His history is the history of dramatic art in Ballarat. His arrival dates 26 years back, when, after some years' service as a musician in Melbourne, he came to Ballarat as clarionet player in the band at the Victoria Theatre, then owned by Messrs. Moodie and Smith. Lola Montes was the attraction at the theatre at the time. From the Victoria Mr. King went to the Montezuma as leader, "Johnny" Hydes being manager. Here he not only officiated as leader, but composed the music for a series of burlesques which were produced. From the Montezuma, he gravitated to the Royal, and there for years he led the orchestra. His experiences were various, and the story of his life from year to year would indeed be a perfect chronicle of theatrical affairs in our city. No playgoer will readily forget "poor Tom King;" no musician who ever served with him in an orchestra, no man who ever met with him apart from his occupation as a musician, not one person who knew him, will refuse the tribute of sorrow to one whose disposition was tempered by the art he loved, and rendered lovable and kindly. Mr, King was a native of Clifton, near Bristol, and was 61 years of age. He has many relatives in the colony. Mrs. A. T. Turner is his sister; Mr. Edward King, violinist, of Melbourne, his brother; and several relatives are well known in musical circles.

[Advertisement], The Argus (20 February 1882), 8


Younger brother of Edward KING; brother of Mrs. Austin T. TURNER


KING, George Frederick

Musician, composer

Active Launceston, TAS, by 1876
Died Mosman, VIC, 21 July 1924, aged 62


"POPULAR CONCERT", Launceston Examiner (19 September 1876), 3

"TASMANIAN TELEGRAMS. LAUNCESTON", The Mercury (23 June 1879), 2

"NEW SONG AND MUSIC", The Mercury (13 November 1878), 2

"AT THE SYDNEY EXHIBITION", The Mercury (17 December 1879), 3

"ROCKET RELIEF FUND CONCERT", Launceston Examiner (14 May 1880), 2

"THE SYDNEY EXHIBITION", Launceston Examiner (3 August 1880), 2

[News], The Argus (7 January 1893), 7

Mr. George Frederick King and Mr. E. M. B. King, brothers of Mr. H. J. King, the conductor of the Melbourne Liedertafel, leave Sydney for Europe and America this week, and it was resolved at a meeting of the musical committee of the Melbourne Liedertafel last night to accredit Mr. G. F. King and to give him representative powers during his tour. Mr. King has been requested to furnish the Liedertafel with details relating to musical life abroad, and to make special reference to music at the forthcoming Chicago Exhibition from a musician's point of view.

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (22 July 1924), 8

"OBITUARY. MR. G. F. KING", The Sydney Morning Herald (1 August 1924), 8

Obituary: The death occurred recently at Mosman, at the age of 62, of Mr. George F. King, who for 32 years was a prominent musician in the northern district. A member of a well-known musical family, he proceeded to West Maitland as organist and choirmaster of St. Mary's Anglican Church in 1895. For 32 years he occupied the dual office. In 1917 he took up duty as choirmaster and organist at St. Clement's, Mosman. During his long residence in Maitland he associated himself with every movement that had for its object the advancement of music. He was conductor of several musical societies. He has left a widow, two sons, and one daughter. The funeral took place from his late residence, Wongalee, Raglan-street, Mosman.

KING, Mr. E. J. (Ernest)



Clarionet player

KING, Juliana (Miss Julia KING)

Infant vocalist

Died at sea, 11 January 1866

KING, Mrs. Frederick

Soprano vocalist

KING, Alfred Edward

Teacher of music (Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind)

Died Prahran, VIC, 2 June 1902, aged 64 years

KING, Henry John, junior

Organist, teacher of music, conductor, composer

Born South Melbourne, VIC, 1855 (son of H. J. King, sen.)
Died Southport, QLD, 27 June 1934

KING, Edward Mendelssohn Bach (son of H. J. King, sen.)

Musician, organist

Died Toronto, near Newcastle, NSW, 14 December 1918, aged 47

KING, Charles Horatio (Melnoth RAFALEWSKI)


Born 1864 (son of ? Henry John KING)
Died Chatswood, NSW, 19 August 1950

"King, Charles Horatio (1864-1950)", Obituaries Australia 

"King, Charles Horatio (1864-1950)", People Australia 


KING, George Oscar (George Oscar KING; George Oscar Julian KING)

Professor of music, musician, music teacher, "certificated pupil of Mr. George Peake"

Born VIC, 1869 (son of Edward KING and Maria CLAYFIELD)
Died Mitcham, VIC, 28 November 1938 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


"CLASSICAL CONCERT IN KYABRAM", Bendigo Advertiser (21 October 1896), 2 

On Tuesday, 13th inst., Mr. C. Horatio King paid a visit to Kyabram, where a grand concert was given by Mr. G. Oscar King. The violin playing of Mr. C. H. King took the audience completely by storm. The difficulties in double stopping, octaves, chromatics, single and double harmonics with pizzicato and arpeggio runs were surmounted with consummate ease, and he was recalled three times to bow his acknowledgments, although it was stated on the programme that "owing to the length of programme no encores would be allowed." His selections were - " Souvenir de Haydn" (Leonard), "Legende" (Wieniawski) and mazurka "Bendigonia" (C. H. King). Miss Heine, our popular soprano, sang Tosti's "Good-bye," and Pinsutis "Sleep on, Dear Love," with expression and refinement, and was compelled to return again to the platform. Mr. George Oscar King played Ries' fine pianoforte concerto in C sharp minor, and was accompanied on a second pianoforte, the accompaniment part being arranged from the orchestral score by Mr. King. To keep the audience so interested for 35 minutes through such a work reflects great credit upon Mr. King. The remainder of the programme consisted of Haydn's Kinder Symphony, rendered by 30 young ladies; Schubert's fine songs, "A Sailor's Farewell," "Storm in the Woods," "Wanderer," sung respectively by Messrs. Lee and Ponsford; Rubinstein's "Wishes" and Schubert's "Who is Sylvia," sung by Messrs. Ponsford and Evans, of Echuca and Rochester. Miss Connell (Rochester) obtained a remarkable success in Liszt's "Thou Art Like a Flower" and Lassen's "I Wander 'mid the Flow'rets" bracketed together, and F. Schumann's "Evening Song " (which has been so beautifully transcribed for the violin by Wilhelmj), sung during the latter part of the programme. Mr. King brought out some of his own pupils, who showed future promise, he playing the various accompaniments. The Mechanics' Institute was well filled with visitors from all parts, and the concert is spoken of as the finest entertainment yet given in the valley of the Goulburn/

"Something for our Musical Folk", Sunshine Advocate (18 August 1933), 6 

We have received from Mr. George Oscnr King two very clever musical puzzle cards in which the complete music scale of C major, and the names of the composers, Bach and Gade appear written in one note. This is effected by a very skilful arrangement of the different clefs and the crossing of the staff by which the one single note appears on the middle line of the staff for all the required notes of the scale and the letters comprising the words "Bach" and "Gade." Should suffcient inducement offer he will be pleased to take up his residence in Sunshine, to continue again his profession which was laid aside for some time owing to the indifferent health of Mrs. King. She passed away recently, and his medical adviser has ordered him to a complete change, and to resume his profession for activity, and to remove from him the painful associations under which he has been living for the past twelve months. Mr. King has a magnificent library of rare and expensive theoretical works in every department of musical literature, possessing also rare manuscripts from the pen of many famous composers, among them being a sonata for violin and pianoforte by Pio Cianchettini, written specially for Paganini, and a full score violin concerto by Charles Edward Horsley, the great friend and pupil of Mendelsshon. Mr. King was engaged for many years in the compilation of a musical chart to embrace at one view a "complete" music "theory." Bad health prevented the work from being completed. It is a stupendous piece of work, and can be seen at our office for a limited time. It is quite well worth seeing by our resident music teachers, and musical folk. We would decidedly give Mr. King a hearty welcome to come and reside with us, whose father, was solo violinist and director of concerts of the Bristol Harmonic Society in 1830, and who played under the baton of Cooke, Balfe, Vincent Wallace; and was a great friend of the great Shakesperian actor, Macready, and all the celebrities of the day. He was the first to introduce Schumann's great opus 44 piano quintett to Australia, and took "first violin" in it, in a performance in the Prahran Town Hall in the early sixties, with Charles Edward Horsley at the piano. Mr. King is one of the very few musicians in Victoria who can remember the phenomenal pianoforte playing of Henri Ketten in the Opera House, and if a resident in Sunshine could give most inteiresting lectures and addresses on music and the past eminent musicians who have visited our shores.

"TO THE EDITOR", The Age (24 August 1935), 6 

Sir, - Your correspondent, "A.M." (Hawthorn), asks if I am any relation of the King family of musicians on the ship Indian Queen, which arrived in Melbourne in 1854; I am the last surviving son of Edward King, who came out in that ship, accompanied by his brother's family, Mr. Henry King. The last surviving son of Mr. Henry King is living in Sydney. The "Indian Queen" clipper ship of 2000 tons sailed from Liverpool at 2.30 p.m. on Thursday, 19th January, 1854, under the captaincy of C. Mills, and arrived in Melbourne on Saturday, 22nd April. There were many passengers. A few in the saloon were the Misses Prince, Mintoe, McWhinney, Spiser, Mr. J. Thompson and family, Messrs. Anderson, Ainslie, Bailey, Smith, Dansfleld, Holmes, Hawsley, Marks, the King family, upwards of 327 in the second saloon. Willis, Merry and Co. were the agents. The ship was towed up from the Heads by the steam tug Washington, under the command of Pilot Ashby. As the ship was brought to its anchorage the King family of musicians played Doctor Mackay's song, "There's a Good Time Coming." The ship had crossed the line on 26th February, and on 8th March the Almora, from Liverpool to Portland, was "spoken." On the 18th March the Ellen Castle was met, 120 days out. Your correspondent is quite correct about the ship's "adventurous" voyage. And I may mention one very sad occurrence, the death by suicide of a passenger, a young man, who was very low-spirited, and appeared to be impressed with the idea that his business of a plumber and glazier was not likely to be a prosperous one in Australia. Upon the ship's anchorage Captain Mills received by an address, the unanimous thanks and good wishes of nearly 400 souls for his gentlemanly conduct and kind bearing towards them during a passage of the wide ocean of 93 days. It is very regrettable that the diary your correspondent mentions should have been destroyed by fire, for we have such few authentic records of early voyages to Australia that each one is of value and of historical importance ...

"DEATHS", The Argus (29 November 1838), 10 

KING - On the 28th November at Mitcham, George Oscar Julian King, Professor of Music, late of Lilydale.

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2017