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People: Papers of Governor Gawler and family

The personal papers collection of the Gawler family are held in the State Library of South Australia archives (Gawler family. Personal papers, PRG 50). George Gawler was South Australia's second Governor. He arrived in the colony on the 12th 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 the Regiment on promotion to unattached Lieutenant Colonel in 1834.

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.

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 many of his measures vindicated.

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. The family left South Australia in 1841. Following his departure from South Australia in June 1841, (4 weeks after being recalled) 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.

Colonel George Gawler
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George Gawler
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Governor Gawler's seal
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Tents at Glenelg by Julia Gawler
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