Henry Lidgbird Ball

Rear-Admiral Henry Lidgbird Ball (1756–1818) was a Royal Navy officer, best known for discovering and exploring Lord Howe Island.

Early life

The son of George Ball, gentleman, and his wife Lucy, he was baptised on 7 December 1756 at Woodchurch, Cheshire.[1]


In 1788, having previously commanded HMS Supply as part of the First Fleet voyaging to Australia, Lieutenant Ball commanded the vessel entrusted with shipping the first group of settlers from Botany Bay to Norfolk Island.

Between 1788 and 1790, Ball explored the area around Port Jackson and took part in the capture of the Aborigine, Arabanoo, on 31 December 1788, in addition to revisiting Lord Howe's Island, as it was then known, and Norfolk Island.

After falling ill in January 1791, Ball returned to England to convalesce. Leaving Australia in November 1791, he landed at Plymouth in April 1792 with the first kangaroo to be shipped to England on board his ship.

Ball returned to duty in December 1792 and was made a captain in 1795, in which position he served with distinction between 1795 and 1812, commanding HMS Daedalus at the Action of 9 February 1799 and capturing the French frigate Prudente. In 1812 he went onto half pay in semi-retirement.

In the summer of 1809 he was called as a witness at the Court-martial of James, Lord Gambier which assessed whether Admiral Lord Gambier had failed to support Captain Lord Cochrane at the Battle of Basque Roads in April 1809. Gambier was controversially cleared of all charges.[2] On 4 June 1814 he was promoted to flag rank as Rear-Admiral of the Blue.[3]

Personal life

During his time in Australia, Ball had a relationship with Sarah Partridge (also known as Mary Stokes),[4] a convict who had been transported by the First Fleet in the Lady Penrhyn.[5] They had a daughter, Anne Maria (born 1789).[5]

On 17 June 1802 Ball married Charlotte Foster in London; she died a year later. On 19 July 1810, at Kingston upon Thames, he married Anne Georgianna Henrietta Johnston,[1] who was 31 years younger than he was: she survived him and died in 1864.[5]

Death and legacy

He died on 22 October 1818 at Mitcham[1] (then in Surrey and now in Greater London), England. He was buried in the churchyard at St Peter's Church, Petersham, in the family vault of his wife Anne Georgianna Henrietta Johnston.[5] A commemorative plaque marking Ball was added to the Johnston tomb on 20 October 2013 at a service attended by the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.[5]

Ball's Pyramid, Mount Lidgbird, Ball Bay on Norfolk Island and (possibly) Balls Head on Sydney Harbour are all named after him.


  1. Parsons, Vivienne (1966). Ball, Henry Lidgbird (1756–1818). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. Gurney, W.B. (1809). Minutes of a court-martial . . . on the trial of James Lord Gambier. Mottey, Harrison & Miller.
  3. Harrison, Simon (2010–2018). "Henry Lidgbird Ball (1756-1818)". threedecks.org. S. Harrison. Retrieved 15 February 2019.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  4. "ANN MOORE, SARAH PARTRIDGE, MARY STOKES, Theft > shoplifting, 14th January 1784". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  5. Boyes, Valerie; Wintersinger, Natascha (2014). Encountering the Unchartered and Back – three explorers: Ball, Vancouver and Burton. Museum of Richmond. pp. 9–10.

Further reading

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