Kirwan King came from a family distinguished for its connection with medicine.
His father was a medical practitioner, as also a brother and two nephews (each of whom served in the great war, one winning the Military Cross for gallantry under heavy fire).
Henry Kirwan King matriculated at the London University in 1863, and subsequently passed his degrees as Bachelor of Medicine and Master in Surgery (Aberdeen University), became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, England (1866), and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and held the L.S.A. (London) degree.
For some years he practiced in England, but for health reasons decided to come to Australia. He arrived first in NSW as medical officer on board the immigrant ship Whampoa in 1877.
In 1878 he started the practice of his profession in Moruya, in which town he remained till 1885. In that year he re-visited England, returning to NSW in July 1886 - the same year he began his practice in Nowra and soon built up a good connection.
But he found time for more than the establishment of a lucrative practice.
He at once identified himself with the social, religious, intellectual and civic activities of the town.
He took a leading part in School of Arts matters, was one of the founders of the present institute, and one of the guarantors of the building fund (the figure running well on to a couple of thousand pounds).
He was its president in the years 1887-8-9, and practically during the whole of his residence in Nowra occupied a seat on the committee.
He also entered the council, and for several terms occupied the position of Mayor.
In this office he distinguished himself as one of the most successful Mayors the town ever had. He was methodical to a marked degree. and brought systematic ideas into the control of the council's affairs.
He carefully noted every request, saw that the works were attended to in rotation, and had daily consultations with the daymen, whom he expected to report regularly as to the works to be undertaken and how and when carried out.
Under this systemised arrangement, it is not be wondered at that the ratepayers got the best possible results for their money.
In church matters, too, he took a lively interest, associating himself with the Parish Council, in which his advice was always appreciated.
He took a leading part in having the fine church All Saint' Church of England building erected and was always a liberal donor to the parish funds.
In addition to these activities, he was prominent in Masonic circles.
He was one of the founders of the Lodge Coeur de Lion (Moruya) and became and was very closely associated with Lodge Abercorn (Nowra).
He filled the highest offices possible in the Masonic order, his full title being V. Wor. Bros. H.K. King, P.D.G.I.W.
King sold his practice in Nowra in 1904 and went on a trip to Japan, China and England, returning to Australia in 1906, taking up practice in Heidelberg (Victoria) where he remained until 1916.
In that year he retired from active practice, and the hankering for the old spot, endeared to him by many associations, became so great that he returned to Shoalhaven, where despite advancing years, he took up in a minor degree some of his old activities and interests.
His wife Sara died at her Berry Street residence on July 18, 1918. Her funeral was held and she was buried in the Nowra General Cemetery, where a headstone marks her resting place.
He married Clare Elizabeth Evans, the eldest daughter of Henry Vansittart Sarah Evans of Casino, at Christ Church St. Lawrence, by the Rev. C. M. Statham on January 5, 1919.
The couple returned to Nowra to reside.
Kirwan King died at Nowra on June 9, 1920 and was buried beside Sara in the Nowra General Cemetery.
A tribute in The Square and Compass
In his profession he had the confidence of his clientele, and may people especially poor folk, will hold his name in grateful thanks for many acts of kindness; and as a citizen of Nowra his record will stand among the men who served well their day and generation.
The first meeting of Lodge Coeur de Lion was held on 11th October 1879 at the Adelaide Hotel under the Scottish Constitution. One whose name stands out prominently is Henry Kirwan King. His influence on Masonry in Moruya and later Nowra was to prove an inspiration to many. He was Rt. Wor. Master in Lodge Coeur de Lion upon three occasions and left the Moruya district to take up practice in Nowra in 1887. He immediate affiliated with Lodge Abercorn but did no sever his connection with his old Lodge for many years, until 1905. Some years later he went to Victoria and there his interest in the craft was unabated as ever, he soon became Master of Lodge Heidelberg No. 189 Victorian Constitution. He later returned to Nowra where he remained until his demise.
In recognition to his serves to Coeur de Lion he was created an Honorary Member and during his term in Lodge Abercorn he also filled the position of Master and was District Grand Inspector of Workings from 1898 to 1904, three terms. He had during his long life been an enthusiastic reader of Masonic literature and sometime after his death, his widow handed to Lodge Abercorn his large collection of books and Masonic documents.
Clare Elizabeth King died at her residence 11 Berry Street, Nowra on May 11, 1951 aged 78 years. She was buried in the Nowra General Cemetery.
Dr Kirwan King's residence
Dr Henry Kirwan King's house was erected in the mid-1890s.
He advertised that his surgery was located in 'The Tower House' in Osborne Street. He apparently rented this cottage from Samuel Elyard until his cottage and surgery was erected in Berry Street.
He commissioned local architect, Cyril Blacket, to design his new two-storey timber weatherboard home in Nowra.
An add in The Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday, January 15, 1890 stated -
To Builders - Tenders are invited for the erection of a weatherboard house in Berry Street, Nowra for Dr King. Plans and specifications to be seen on application to Mr Arthur Blacket, architect, Bond Street, Sydney or at the office of the undersigned, to whom all tenders must be sent in not later than Wednesday, January 29, 1890 Cyril Blacket Architect, Nowra.
'Dr Kirwan King's House' and consulting rooms were erected in Berry Street, Nowra, adjacent to the newly completed School of Arts, also designed by Cyril Blacket and completed in 1891.
'King's House' appears to have been a compact, double-pile based on the four-roomed plan, but with architectural features which differed dramatically from established precedents in Nowra.
Both the two main bedrooms and upper hallway opened through French doors onto the small front balcony.
The balcony, an extension of the main roof line, did not extend to the corners of the building, and was supported by the ground floor bay windows, creating a sheltered front entrance.
The roof was in corrugated galvanised iron with decorative corner "Acroteria" details.
Although the late-Victorian design was a new departure, the underlying Georgian symmetry of the house was reinforced by the two chimney stacks, each serving three fireplaces.
The building at one time housed Mrs King's School and later was turned into flats.
The building was demolished in the 1970s by Nowra Municipal Council to make way for a car park adjacent to the Nowra School of Arts.
Information from Robyn Florance for the Shoalhaven Historical Society.
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