Breamlea, Victoria

Breamlea, Victoria

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

South Australia 1839 - Governor George Gawler

His Excellency Governor George Gawler,
Governor of South Australia in 1839.
State Library of South Australia, SLSA, B14428
Hi everyone,

You know of course from yesterday's blog that my 4x Great Grandmother Janet Slone nee Row and her first husband Robert Slone arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia in March 1839 on the Katherine Stewart Forbes.

Also on board was Charles Cooper, who was to become the first Chief Justice of the Province.

An article by the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register newspaper printed on 6 April 1839, just days after their arrival, tells of a welcoming speech given by His Excellency the Governor George Gawler to Charles Cooper.

It is clear from the article that both men have used this opportunity to make statements of their agendas.

Firstly, Gawler welcomes Cooper, stating that he has received the orders from her Majesty, Queen Victoria to make Charles Cooper a permanent Judge of South Australia.  Gawler sees this permanent position with 'satisfaction' and as giving rise to stability within the Colony. This stability is 'of the utmost importance to our prosperity.'  I'm getting the feeling that George has some warring parties on his hands somewhere.

George then says that Charles Cooper shouldn't have too much to do on the criminal side of things, and waxes lyrical about how the working classes of the whole British Empire are all things wonderful but especially law abiding. Er, George, where did the convicts come from in the first place?  One gets the feeling he is trying to make it so by saying so here because his next statement  was that the Gaol was full, but it was only a little Gaol.

Prophetically, Gawler speaks to our family in the next paragraph, and I'll let you read it for yourself.  He says that most prisoners in the Gaol were:

     'runaway sailors or escaped convicts from other colonies; with such as these there will, no doubt, be something to do.  An efficient police must be maintained, and the arm of justice firmly extended to repress their irregularities.'

Well, Janet Slone's next husband, and my 4x great grandfather John Armstrong,  is an African born sailor, who we think gets done for theft of four chickens, and ended up doing hard labour in that Gaol a few years after this speech.

Next, Gawler talks about a propensity for 'frivolous and vexatious litigation' within the colony which he hopes is replaced by conciliation and arbitration.  He hopes that Mr. Cooper will not have to deal with too many of these civil cases.

Cooper himself responds now, thanking the Governor for the cordial reception, and said that 'everything had been done to make him forget that he was a stranger in a strange land.'  I wonder if Granny felt the same way.  Cooper then went to some effort to emphasise that, by necessity, his position required him to be apolitical.

Then he commented on a situation of which I have no knowledge, but Mr. Cooper states that he has read something in the newspapers that is 'so unjust to the Governor' and 'so injurious to the happy progress of the colony.' What is Charles Cooper talking about?

Another mystery to solve. yours,
Valerius Copernicus

Image of Governor Gawler supplied courtesy of State Library of South Australia, SLSA. B14428.
Newspaper articles found in Trove reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Australia.
Citation for Trove article:

Article identifier
Page identifier
APA citation
APPOINTMENT AND INSTALLATION OF HIS HONOR THE JUDGE. (1839, April 6). South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839), p. 3. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from
MLA citation
"APPOINTMENT AND INSTALLATION OF HIS HONOR THE JUDGE." South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register(Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839) 6 Apr 1839: 3. Web. 22 Apr 2015 <>.
Harvard/Australian citation
1839 'APPOINTMENT AND INSTALLATION OF HIS HONOR THE JUDGE.', South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register(Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839), 6 April, p. 3, viewed 22 April, 2015,
Wikipedia citation
{{cite news |url= |title=APPOINTMENT AND INSTALLATION OF HIS HONOR THE JUDGE. |newspaper=[[South_Australian_Register|South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839)]] |location=Adelaide, SA |date=6 April 1839 |accessdate=22 April 2015 |page=3 |publisher=National Library of Australia}}


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