Queensland's first Governor
Sir George Ferguson Bowen holds the distinction of being Queensland's first Governor following the colony's separation from New South Wales. Sworn in on 10 December 1859, Bowen served until 1868. He would later hold other governorship roles in New Zealand, Victoria, Mauritius and Hong Kong before his death in England in 1899.
State Library holds a number of items relating the Governor Bowen's time in Queensland and beyond.
State Library doesn't just hold old photographs and diaries. This exquisite sterling silver ceremonial spade has quite a significant history. It was presented to Governor Bowen at the turning of the first sod of the first section of the Queensland Northern Railway from Rockhampton to Westwood on 27 September 1865. The ceremonial spade was made by distinguished Melbourne silversmith William Edwards.
This event (including the presentation of the ceremonial spade) was reported in the Rockhampton Bulletin.
This pastel portrait of Sir George Bowen from our artwork collection was created in 1882 when he was Governor of Hong Kong. The artist was Henry Gordon Fanner, a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and with the Royal Society of British Artists.
Other collection items relate to Sir George Ferguson Bowen's wife, Lady Diamantina Bowen. Within collection 31373 Sir George Bowen Family Realia, Photographs and Correspondence 1879-1965 is this small illuminated address entitled "Victoria's Farewell to Lady Bowen" with words by Marcus Clarke. According to State Library of Victoria this item would have probably been issued to attendees at the farewell to Lady Bowen. The words were lyrics to a song.
This framed portrait of Lady Diamantina Bowen is a reproduction of an original held by All Hallows' School. Sadly the name of the artist is unknown.
More collection items:
- Sketch to illustrate Sir George Bowen's official tour in March 1860 - digitised and available to view online
- Document proposing Sir George Bowen for the Governorship of the Colony at Moreton Bay
- Portrait photographs of Sir George Bowen
Learn more about the life and career of Sir George Bowen: