KING, GEORGE, stevedore, shipbuilder, and shipowner; b. about 1798, possibly of loyalist descent, in Lower Cove, Saint John, N.B.; d. 21 Nov. 1867 at Halifax, N.S.
George King is first mentioned on a Saint John ship register in 1850 as the owner of the new ship American and was described there as a “stevedore.” According to an obituary, he was able to leave this occupation “by dint of industry, sobriety and assiduous attention to business.” From 1850 until his death King registered 23 vessels, of which 22 were newly built and 20 fully rigged ships; he was the sole builder of 13 of the 23 vessels and the joint builder of another six. The first four were built by John Storm, with whom King was in partnership from 1853 to 1857. Most of King’s ships were soon sold to Liverpool owners, and the sales were frequently financed by Fernie Brothers, who were probably King’s correspondents in Liverpool, as they were for many British North American shipowners. A glimpse of the financial scale of King’s business is given in the “certificates of sale” which he registered in the years 1861 to 1864 for his eight new ships of a combined tonnage of 9,487 and minimum sale price of £95,900.
As King’s health deteriorated, he sought a change of climate by sailing to Liverpool on 2 Sept. 1867 with his son Frederick on the maiden voyage of the last ship he built, Trial Wave. At Liverpool his health continued to fail; he set out to return to Saint John, but died en route at Halifax. The next day the Saint John Morning News commented: “He has been so long and so extensively connected with the shipbuilding interests of this city, that for years past his name has been familiar as a household word.”
George King had married Mary Ann Fowler, of Kings County, N.B.; they had at least five sons and one daughter. His second son, George Edwin*, became an mha, premier of New Brunswick, and judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.
PRO, BT 107/95–109/253; “Vessels built in Saint John and transferred to Liverpool,” comp. E. C. Wright. Morning News (Saint John, N.B.), 22 Nov. 1867. F. W. Wallace, Wooden ships and iron men: the story of the square-rigged merchant marine of British North America, the ships, their builders and owners, and the men who sailed them (Boston, 1937; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1973). Clarence Ward, “Old times in Saint John, 1850,” Saint John Globe (Saint John, N.B.), 17 Aug. 1912.