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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Lord Viscount Sydney

c. 1790
Gilbert Stuart and John Young (engraver)

mezzotint on paper (frame: 63.0 cm x 49.3 cm, image: 37.6 cm x 28.7 cm)

Thomas Townshend, first Viscount Sydney PC (1733–1800), British politician, was instrumental in implementing his government’s 1786 decision to establish a penal colony on the east coast of Australia. Townshend was first elected to the House of Commons in 1754. He became secretary at war in 1782, and in this role instigated a plan to attack Spanish interests in South America. Though the scheme was never carried out, Townshend took note of the naval officer who had devised it: Captain Arthur Phillip. In 1783, Townshend became Baron Sydney and entered the House of Lords. As home secretary, he took charge when, in mid-1786, William Pitt’s government decided to send the First Fleet to Botany Bay. He appointed Phillip to the command of the fleet and named him governor-designate of New South Wales. The new settlement – relocated to Port Jackson when the initial site, Botany Bay, proved unsuitable – was named Sydney Cove by Phillip in January 1788. Historians debate Sydney’s skill as a politician, but it is generally agreed that he made a good choice in Phillip, who steered the colony steadily through the hardships of its first four years. Lord Sydney maintained an interest in the affairs of New South Wales until his removal from office in 1789, after which time he lived in affluence generated by his various landholdings and inheritances.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Gilbert Stuart (age 35 in 1790)

John Young (age 35 in 1790)

Thomas Townshend, Lord Viscount Sydney (age 57 in 1790)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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