The SANDS OF TIME Collection – 7. Australian Colonial

7. Australian Colonial
George Ferguson Bowen & Lachlan Macquarie — 885 x 685 mm
© Robert Morgan


George Ferguson Bowen was in County Donegal, Ireland on 2 November 1821.  Bowen was made Queensland’s first Governor in 1859 after campaigning for Gladstone in the 1852 British elections.  His political career had already taken off earlier when he was appointed political secretary to the government of the Ionian Islands after he had graduated with first class honours from Oxford University and had dabbled for a time in law and the Navy.

The Australian political machinery was already established by the time he arrived, but he still had a rough road ahead of him and faction fighting between the two Queensland Houses of Parliament was often violent.  Despite this he managed to influence colonial legislation while dealing with his critics and enemies along the way, and trying to avoid becoming caught up in the power struggle between the Churches of England and Rome.  Many of his critics opposed his democratic and sometimes liberal ideas.  Though he never actually backed the squatters’ cause, he sympathised with them, which gave his critics more ammunition to level against him.

Considered a strong leader he emerged weaker when attempts to bring him down over the heated issues of land tax and MPs’ pay prompted him to dismiss public servants on the infamous Black Wednesday in 1877.  He was recalled two years later to take over the governorship of Mauritius.  He was Governor of Hong Kong from 1882-86, when he retired and busied himself on a new constitution for Malta.  He died on 21 February 1899.


Lachlan Macquarie was born in the Scottish Hebrides on 31 January 1762.  A cousin to the last chieftain of the Macquarie clan, Lachlan Macquarie joined the British Army in 1776, served in Canada, India, Egypt and fought in the American War of Independence.  By 1802 he was commanding the 86th Regiment in India.  In 1807, after returning to Britain from India, he married Elizabeth née Campbell, his first wife Jane née Jarvis having died in India.  Two years later, in the wake of the Rum Rebellion against Governor Bligh, he was appointed Governor of New South Wales and arrived to take up the post on 28 December 1809.  He was officially sworn in as Governor on 1 January 1810.  Macquarie had decided to stay in New South Wales for only three or four years but he continued to govern the colony until 1 December 1821 thus becoming the longest serving colonial Governor.

During his governorship the colony came of age.  He was an active administrator and successfully organised the administration of the colony, stamped out the rum trade, established the Bank of New South Wales, undertook extensive public works (an estimated two hundred buildings), engaged in road building, extended the borders of the colony to the north and south, and opened the first school for Aborigines.  During Macquarie’s governorship some of the colony’s most significant explorations were undertaken.  The crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 is generally considered the most important.  He left the colony on 15 February 1822, died in London on 1 July 1824 and was buried on his family estate at Gruline on the Isle of Mull.

%d bloggers like this: