George Bowen

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Sir George Bowen

George Bowen b.jpg
1st Governor of Queensland
In office
10 December 1859 4 January 1868
Monarch Victoria
Succeeded by Samuel Blackall
5th Governor of New Zealand
In office
5 February 1868 19 March 1873
Premier Edward Stafford
William Fox
George Waterhouse
Preceded by Sir George Grey
Succeeded by Sir James Fergusson
5th Governor of Victoria
In office
30 July 1873 22 February 1879
Preceded by Sir John Manners-Sutton
Succeeded by George Phipps, 2nd Marquess of Normanby
13th Governor of Mauritius
In office
9th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
30 March 1883 6 October 1887
Lieutenant Governor LTG John Sargent
LTG Sir William Cameron
Colonial Secretary William Henry Marsh
Frederick Stewart
Preceded by Sir John Pope Hennessy
Succeeded by Sir George William Des Vœux
Personal details
Born(1821-11-02)2 November 1821
Parish of Taughboyne, County Donegal, Ulster, Ireland, United Kingdom
Died21 February 1899(1899-02-21) (aged 77)
Brighton, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Contessa Diamantina Roma
Florence Bowen
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Professioncolonial administrator
George Bowen
Traditional Chinese 寶雲

Sir George Ferguson Bowen, GCMG (Chinese :寶雲; 2 November 1821 – 21 February 1899), was an Irish author and colonial administrator whose appointments included postings to the Ionian Islands, Queensland, New Zealand, Victoria, Mauritius and Hong Kong. [1]

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Irish people Ethnic group, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought many English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

Ionian Islands Traditional region of Greece

The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones.


Early life

Bowen was born the eldest son of the Rev. Edward Bowen, [2] Church of Ireland Rector of Taughboyne, a parish in the Laggan district in the east of County Donegal in Ulster. [1] Bowen was educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Oxford. Bowen, twice President of the Oxford Union, was awarded a first class Bachelor of Arts degree in classics in 1844, [2] and was elected a fellow of Brasenose College. Bowen was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1844 and obtained his Master of Arts three years later. [3] In 1846 Bowen had some naval training, serving for sixteen days on HMS Victory. [1] In 1847 Bowen was appointed president of the Ionian University located in Corfu, a post he held until 1851. [1] [3]

Church of Ireland Anglican church in Ireland

The Church of Ireland is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. It is organised on an all-Ireland basis and is the second largest Christian church on the island after the Catholic Church. Like other Anglican churches, it has retained elements of pre-Reformation practice, notably its episcopal polity, while rejecting the primacy of the Pope. In theological and liturgical matters, it incorporates many principles of the Reformation, particularly those espoused during the English Reformation. The church self-identifies as being both Catholic and Reformed. Within the church, differences exist between those members who are more Catholic-leaning and those who are more Protestant-leaning (evangelical). For historical and cultural reasons, the Church of Ireland is generally identified as a Protestant church.

Taughboyne Parish in Ulster, Ireland

Taughboyne is a parish, in County Donegal, Ireland.

County Donegal County in the Republic of Ireland

County Donegal is a county of Ireland in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal in the south of the county. Donegal County Council is the local council and Lifford the county town.

Service in the Ionian Islands

Bowen became the chief secretary to the government of the Ionian Islands in 1854. [2] While in that post, he married the Contessa Diamantina di Roma on 28 April 1856. Diamantina was the daughter of Conte Giorgio-Candiano Roma and his wife Contessa Orsola, née di Balsamo. The Roma family were local aristocracy; her father being the President of the Ionian Senate, titular head of the Islands, from 1850 to 1856. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1855 and was advanced to Knight Commander (KCMG) in the following year. [3]

Diamantina Bowen Wife of Governor of Queensland

Diamantina, Lady Bowen, was a noble from the formerly Venetian Ionian Islands who became the wife of Sir George Bowen, the first Governor of Queensland.

Governor of Queensland

In 1859, Bowen was appointed the first Governor of Queensland, a colony that had just been separated from New South Wales. Bowen's influence in Queensland was greater than that of the governors in other Australian colonies in a large part due to Robert Herbert, who accompanied Bowen from England, and later became colonial secretary and then first Premier of Queensland in 1860–66. [1] Bowen was interested in the exploration of Queensland and in the establishment of a volunteer force, but incurred some unpopularity by refusing to sanction the issue of inconvertible paper money during the financial crisis of 1866. But overall, he was quite popular in Queensland, so that the citizens requested an extension of his five-year term as governor, resulting in his staying for further two years. [4]

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Robert Herbert 1st Premier of Queensland

Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert,, was the first Premier of Queensland, Australia. At 28 years and 181 days of age, he was the youngest person to ever be elected Premier of an Australian state.

Premier of Queensland head of government for the state of Queensland, Australia

The Premier of Queensland is the head of government in the Australian state of Queensland.

Governor of New Zealand

The flag of New Zealand as designed by Markham in 1869, approved by Bowen. Flag of New Zealand.svg
The flag of New Zealand as designed by Markham in 1869, approved by Bowen.

In 1867 Bowen was made Governor of New Zealand, where he was successful in reconciling the Māori reaction to the British rule, and saw the end of the New Zealand wars. Bowen also instituted the New Zealand Cross for colonial soldiers, one of the rarest bravery awards in the world and equivalent to the Victoria Cross (he was reprimanded for exceeding his authority). [5]

Governor-General of New Zealand Representative of the monarch of New Zealand

The Governor-General of New Zealand is the viceregal representative of the monarch of New Zealand, currently Queen Elizabeth II. As the Queen is concurrently the monarch of 15 other Commonwealth realms, and lives in the United Kingdom, she, on the advice of her New Zealand prime minister, appoints a governor-general to carry out her constitutional and ceremonial duties within the Realm of New Zealand.

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of waka (canoe) voyages somewhere between 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from other eastern Polynesian cultures.

New Zealand Cross (1869)

The New Zealand Cross was introduced in 1869 during the New Zealand Wars in New Zealand. The wars were fought between natives of New Zealand, the Māori, and forces raised by European settlers known as Pākehā assisted by British troops.

In 1869, Albert Hastings Markham, first lieutenant of HMS Blanche submitted a design to Bowen for a national ensign for New Zealand. His proposal, incorporating the Southern Cross, was approved and remains in use to this day. [6]

Albert Hastings Markham British explorer and Royal Navy officer

Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham was a British explorer, author, and officer in the Royal Navy. In 1903 he was invested as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He is also remembered for designing the flag of New Zealand.

HMS <i>Blanche</i> (1867)

HMS Blanche was a 1760-ton, 6-gun Eclipse-class wooden screw sloop built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1860s by Chatham Dockyard.

Flag of New Zealand national flag of New Zealand

The flag of New Zealand, also known as the New Zealand Ensign, is based on the British maritime Blue Ensign – a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist corner – augmented or defaced with four white-bordered red stars, representing the Southern Cross constellation.

Governor of Victoria

In March 1873 Bowen was transferred to Victoria (Australia) as Governor of Victoria, [1] where he embarked on an endeavour to reduce the expenses of the colony. A political crisis occurred while Bowen took leave in England from January 1875 to January 1876, when the acting governor, Sir William Stawell, showed "too little flexibility in the exercise of his temporary powers". [1] One of the main issues was the perennial conflict between the Victorian Legislative Council and the Victorian Legislative Assembly; the Council was blocking legislation for its reform and for payment of members. [1] In January 1878, backed by advice from the Colonial Office, Bowen consented to premier Graham Berry's plan to break the deadlock by the wholesale dismissal of public servants on so-called "Black Wednesday". [1] In May that year, Bowen said that "my reluctant consent, purely on constitutional grounds, to these dismissals ... has damaged my further reputation and my career to a degree that I shall never recover. It will never be forgotten either in England or in the Colony". However several others, including Hugh Childers and William Ewart Gladstone, approved of Bowen's actions, and he was appointed to subsequent vice-regal posts. [1]

Governor of Mauritius

Bowen arrived on Mauritius on 4 April 1879 and served as 13th Governor of the colony until 9 December 1880. [7]

Governor of Hong Kong

On 30 March 1883, Bowen was made Governor of Hong Kong. During his tenure, his administration established the Hong Kong Observatory, which also served as the meteorological institute of the territory. He founded the first college in Hong Kong, and ordered the construction of the Typhoon Shelter in Causeway Bay, and a government hospital. He retired in 1887, due to ill health. [8]


Bowen returned to England after his time in Hong Kong and was appointed chief of a Royal Commission sent to Malta in December 1887 to help to draft the new constitution for the island. All recommendations made by the commission were adopted. Afterwards, Bowen was sworn of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.

Personal life

Sir George Bowen Sir George Bowen.jpg
Sir George Bowen

Bowen was married twice.

His first wife was Contessa Diamantina di Roma, only daughter of Count Candiano di Roma. They had the following children:

Diamantina died in London in 1893 at about the age of 60. [9]

George married his second wife, Letitia Florence White, in late 1896 at Chelsea, London. [9] Florence was the daughter of Dr Thomas Luby, a mathematician, and was the widow of Henry White, whom she had married in 1878. [9]

George Ferguson Bowen died on 21 February 1899 in Brighton in Sussex, aged 77 years old. [9] He died from bronchitis after a short illness of two days. He was buried on 25 February 1899 in Kensal Green cemetery in London.


The following were named after George Bowen:

His wife Diamantina appears to have been more popular than George in Queensland, as there are many Queensland places named after her.


Literary works

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 R. B. Joyce, 'Bowen, Sir George Ferguson (1821–1899) Archived 10 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine ', Australian Dictionary of Biography , Vol. 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, pp 203–207. Retrieved 18 April 2010
  2. 1 2 3 Death of Sir George Bowen Archived 4 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine , Wanganui Herald, Volume XXXIII, Issue 9676, 23 February 1899, Page 2
  3. 1 2 3 Dod (1860), p. 127
  4. "The Late Lady Bowen", Brisbane Courier, Monday 27 November 1893
  5. "New Zealand Cross". Te Papa Museum . Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. "Rear-Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, Norfolk Museums and Archeology Service". Archived from the original on 2 June 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. Chisholm 1911.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Archived 9 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Bowen, George Ferguson (BWN886GF)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.

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Government offices
New office Governor of Queensland
Succeeded by
Sir Samuel Blackall
Preceded by
Sir George Grey
Governor of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Sir James Fergusson
Preceded by
Sir John Manners-Sutton
Governor of Victoria
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Normanby
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Purves Phayre
Governor of Mauritius
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Napier Broome
Preceded by
William H. Marsh (Administrator)
9th Governor of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
William H. Marsh (Administrator)