John King was born in Newport in 1800. He emigrated to Buenos Aires in 1825 and almost at once volunteered for the navy Admiral Browne was creating, to try to break the Brazilian blockade of the River Plate.
He quickly became first lieutenant of the Brig. Republica and by the end of the Brazilian War in 1828 was one of Browne's most trustworthy captains having accompanied him in command of the Congreso on his celebrated raiding voyage along the Brazilian coast, and having greatly distinguished himself at the Battle of Los Pozos.
He won further fame for his remarkable skill and courage in the battle of Mont Santiago when four Argentine ships spent two days in action against eighteen Brazilian warships. In the war against Uruguay in the 1840's he was chief of staff and commanded the fleet's newest inquisition '25 de Mayo'.
A note written in English by Admiral Browne in 1841 on board the National flagship General Belgrano; "confirming that John King was born in Newport, Co. Mayo, son of captain Myles King at present residing in Galway." This document is currently on display in The Foxford Woollen Mills Visitor Centre, Foxford.
He died in 1857 the same year as his chief, Admiral Browne of Foxford, Co. Mayo.
A plaque in his memory has been erected beside a memorial of a large anchor beside the bridge over the town river The Black Oak River.
The plaque bears the inscription:
Marine Sergeant Major Juan King born in Newport 1800. Died Buenos Aires 1857.
Distinguished career in the Argentine Navy 1826- 1852.
Compatriot of Admiral Browne, Founder of Argentine Navy.
This memorial dedicated by N.C. Jorge Omar Godoy,
Captain of the A.R.A Libertad.
Article by Brian Hoban