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.  

Two portraits of Sir George Bowen, Queensland's first Governor. (State Library of Queensland)

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

Sterling silver ceremonial spade presented to Queensland's Governor Sir George Bowen at the turning of the first sod of the first section of the Queensland Northern Railway from Rockhampton to Westwood, 27 September 1865. (State Library of Queensland)

Another unusual item in our collection is Governor Bowen's ceremonial sword. Measuring 96 centimetres in length, the sword was manufactured by Henry Poole and Company, Savile Row, London.

Ceremonial sword belonging to Sir George Ferguson Bowen, first Governor of Queensland. (State Library of Queensland)

Hilt of a ceremonial sword belonging to Sir George Ferguson Bowen, first Governor of Queensland. (State Library of Queensland)

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.

Pastel portrait by Henry Fanner depicting Sir George Ferguson Bowen, 1882. (State Library of Queensland)

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.

Small illuminated address entitled "Victoria's Farewell to Lady Bowen" with words by Marcus Clarke. (State Library of Queensland collection)

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. 

Framed copy of a portrait of Lady Diamantina Bowen by an unidentified artist. (photo: State Library of Queensland)

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A perfect opportunity to promote my new book, 'Civilising Brisbane' which focuses on Diamantina Bowen, Eliza O'Connell and Ellen Whitty, who worked together to make the town a better and safer place to live.