Every inch a governor : Sir George Gipps Governor of New South Wales, 1838-46

2016-11-06T23:27:50Z (GMT) by John Gipps
Sir George Gipps was Governor of New South Wales when that colony encompassed most of Australia, and at a time when it was undergoing fundamental social changes. An officer of the Royal Engineers and a veteran of the Peninsular War, Gipps came to public notice with his views on slavery in the West Indies. Having served a political apprenticeship in Canada as a member of the Gosford Commission, he governed New South Wales from 1838 to 1846. There he oversaw the ending of transportation, while encouraging Alexander Maconochie in his enlightened experiments in the rehabilitation of convicts. Like his predecessor, Sir Richard Bourke, he battled unsuccessfully against religious bigotry to set up a system of state schools. To a greater extent than any of his predecessors, he struggled to protect aborigines against the murderous behaviour of the more unscrupulous of the colonists. With extensive government-sponsored immigration, the proportion of convicts and emancipists in the population shrank to the extent that New South Wales could be considered as a colony suitable for the introduction of free institutions. Gipps established the first elective Legislative Council in Australia, a body which became dominated with the representatives of squatterdom determined to thwart all government measures intended to bring equity into the system of land tenure. Sir George died barely six months after quitting the colony, and squatters such as William Wentworth crowed about the "victory" they had won over the former Governor and all his works. Other colonists, bitterly critical of Gipps during his lifetime, eventually came to realise that his struggle had been on their behalf.<div><br></div><div>Copyright John Gipps 1996</div>