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S.A. Northern Pioneers: Sir R.G. McDonnell
Title : S.A. Northern Pioneers: Sir R.G. McDonnell S.A. Northern Pioneers: Sir R.G. McDonnell
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Source : B 6912/F6
Date of creation : ca. 1870
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 50 x 33 mm
Contributor : State Library catalogue
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Description :

Portrait of Sir R.G. McDonnell, Governor, from the S.A. Northern Pioneers' composite, 1850-1859 (shown in position on B 6912/1).

Former Chief Justice and later Governor of Gambia, Sir Richard MacDonnell arrived in South Australia in June 1855, to take up the position of Governor. He was accompanied by his wife Lady MacDonnell. According to The Adelaide Observer, 12 February 1881:

"He held the reins of government here from that date until March 4, 1862, a period of seven years - the most eventful which had then occurred in the history of South Australia. The useful working of representative government in the colony owed much to the intelligence, industry and conciliatory spirit shown by Sir Richard ... During his residence in South Australia Sir Richard identified himself with every public movement for the good of the colony, whether of a literary, artistic, educational or philanthropic character. He traversed the colony in all directions..., probably more competently than any bushman.... (except) Mr. Stuart." The Adelaide Observer, 12 February 1881, p. 282, cols a-b

MacDonnell was at odds with the wishes of many in the South Australian community considering that a two house parliament was not necessary, that 36 elected members in a single house would be sufficent and not strip the Governor of many of his powers. While many of the conservatives agreed with him, liberals and radicals did not and the election in late 1855 returned a majority determined to make their own decisions.

After he left South Australia in 1862, MacDonnell was subsequently appointed Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and later Governor of Hong Kong. He died in February 1881 and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

The MacDonnell Ranges in the north of South Australia were named for him and include South Australia's highest peak, Mt Woodroffe. His wife, Blanche Anne (daughter of Francis Skurray), gave her name to Lake Blanche and Cape Blanche.

Period : 1836-1851,1852-1883
Place : South Australia
Further reading :

Sir R.G. MacDonnell, K.C.M.G Adelaide observer, 12 February 1881, p. 282, cols. a-b

Munyard, Anna Governor MacDonnell and the transition to responsible govt in S.A. Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, no. 5 (1978), p. 41-65

Donovan, P. F. South Australian imperialism Flinders journal of history and politics, vol. 3 (1973), p. 45-53

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