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Governor Gawler's seal
Title : Governor Gawler's seal Governor Gawler's seal View More Images
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Creator : Issued by Queen Victoria and the Royal family
Source : PRG 50/44
Date of creation : 1838
Format : Object
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Royal Warrant with intact wax seal granted to George Gawler, appointing him Governor of South Australia on the behalf of Queen Victoria, 1838.

It is possible that the decorative border around the warrant text was printed from a lithographic stone. The details of the warrant have been finished by hand in ink, including some calligraphy, and the circular wax seal (approximately 1500 mm) was once attached to the document with red silk thread ribbon. The image embossed into the wax features a figure mounted on a horse holding a shield.

This unique object comes from a collection of the personal papers of Lt.Col George Gawler, Governor of South Australia (1838-1840), and members of his family, comprising school records, papers of appointment, correspondence, photographs, newspaper cuttings, certificates, pencil and watercolour drawings and other papers.

George Gawler was South Australia's second Governor, arriving in the province of South Australia 12 Ocotber 1838 onboard the Pestonjee Bomanjee (ship) with his mother, wife and five children. His appointment followed a long service in the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment, in which he obtained a commission as Ensign in 1810 and had risen in the ranks to Major in 1831. He departed from the Regiment via a promotion to unattached Lieutenant Colonel in 1834.

Governor Gawler and his wife were pious evangelical Christians. Both disapproved of dancing and card playing, and held daily morning prayers which all the servants were expected to attend. Mrs Gawler, with her sons, distributed religious tracts amongst the inhabitants of Adelaide.

"Gawler's administration as Governor embraced a most difficult period in the colony's development and his recourse to extraordinary expenditure in an attempt to resolve these difficulties, led to the censure of his actions and ultimate recall in May 1841" (R. Hetherington, 'Gawler, George (1795 - 1869)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 431-435).

"I am sorry to tell you the Governor here is not getting on so capitally in great things and in small. He has not yet ordered the new and really economical government house; I don't know why, but I suppose because he finds it is only four times as big as the one at Sydney, and is to cost three times as much, and he thinks perhaps that as that is a convict colony he ought to have a better house still. Besides, I am told he has made the council room too small, and has not estimated for the armchairs......But the economy, my dear Hill, your favorite theme - you never saw how cheaply things are done here..." From original correspondence to Rowland Hill, Esq., Adelaide, 4 January 1839, writing to England, published in the Southern Australian (4 January 1839 p.3, col. d-e).

"While many of the colonists approved of Gawler's actions, and attested to their confidence in his administration in a number of memorials and a testimonial prior to his departure from the colony, the weight of official opinion in England was against him, and only many years later was his administration impartially assessed and his measures vindicated" (R. Hetherington, 'Gawler, George (1795 - 1869)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 431-435).

"...If Colonel Gawler had had the money to pay these accounts, he would surely have paid them, and he should not now grumble because they are charged to the year in which they were incurred...." Southern Australian (11 August 1846 p.3, col. a).

"...Colonel Gawler refers to the case of a man building his house in England, and states that his expenses are necessarily greater than after he has completed it. The cases are not parallel. He forgets he built at a time when provisions were at famine prices, and wages were three times the ordinary rate. Would a man in England in such circumstances build a house at all!"Southern Australian (11 August 1846 p.3, col. a).

"...what colonists blame him for was carrying on extensive public works at such time and prices, taking up the labor of the colony - raising the price of his operations has created a feeling of dread of interfering with the labor market, and has inspired of economy in reference to public works, which appears strong enough to last for fifty years to come."Southern Australian (11 August 1846 p.3, col. a).

Following his departure from South Australia in June 1841, Gawler returned with his family to England where he remained until his death in 1869. He was made a colonel in the British Army in 1846, only to resign from his commission in 1850.

Related names :

Fisher, Sir James Hurtle, 1790-1875

Gawler, George, 1795-1869

Hindmarsh, Sir John, 1785-1860

Pestonjee Bomanjee (Ship)

Torrens, Robert, 1780-1864

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, 1796-1862

Coverage year : 1838
Period : 1836-1851
Place : Adelaide
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Borrow, K.T. Lieutenant-Colonel George Gawler KH Governor and Commander-in-Chief of South Australia 1838-1841, Adelaide: Pioneers' Association of South Australia, 1955

Cockburn, R Pastoral pioneers of South Australia 2 v. (207; 263 p.) Adelaide : Publishers Limited, 1925-1927 ("Reprinted from the Adelaide Stock and Station Journal.")

Colonel George Gawler: a sketch, [South Australia: s.n., 1869]

Colwell, M and Alan Naylor. Adelaide: an illustrated history, [Joslin, S. Aust.]: McP, 1981

Insights into South Australian history, volume 2: South Australia's German history and heritage, Harmstorf, Ian A. ed, Adelaide: Historical Society of South Australia, 1992-

Loyau, George E. Notable South Australians or colonists: past and present, Adelaide, S. Aust.: G.E. Loyau, 1885

Kwan, Elizabeth. Living in South Australia: a social history, Netley, S. Aust.: South Australian Government Printer, 1987

Migration Museum. From many places: the history and cultural traditions of South Australian people, Kent Town, S. Aust.: Migration Museum (History Trust of S.A.) in association with Wakefield Press, 1995

Southern Australian, 9 January 1839, p. 3, col. d-e, The Southern Australian [newspaper : microform], Adelaide : Archibald McDougall, 1838-1844

South Australian, 11 August 1846, p. 3, col. a , The Southern Australian [newspaper : microform], Adelaide : Archibald McDougall, 1838-1844

The Wakefield companion to South Australian history. Editor Wilfrid Prest. Kent Town, S. Aust. : Wakefield Press, 2001

Internet links :

State Library of South Australia, General Information Factsheets OnlineSee 'Depressions in South Australia: 1840s, 1890s and 1930s'

Religious tracts Wikipedia

Pictures Catalogue National Library of Australia


Gawler family. Personal papers, PRG 50



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