George Gipps
Sir George Gipps was Governor of the colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, for eight years, between 1838 and 1846. His governorship was during a period of great change for New South Wales and Australia, as well as for New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, which was administered as part of New South Wales for much of this period. Settlers at the time were not happy with his move towards responsible government, although contemporaries at the Colonial Office
Colonial Office
Colonial Office is the government agency which serves to oversee and supervise their colony* Colonial Office - The British Government department* Office of Insular Affairs - the American government agency* Reichskolonialamt - the German Colonial Office...

 found him to be an able administrator.

Early career

Gipps was born in 1791 at Ringwold, Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and was the son of the Rev. George Gipps. He was educated at The King's School, Canterbury
The King's School, Canterbury
The King's School is a British co-educational independent school for both day and boarding pupils in the historic English cathedral city of Canterbury in Kent. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Eton Group....

, and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.

In 1809 he joined the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 and served in the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 as well as elsewhere in Europe (although he missed the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 due to his posting in Ostend
Ostend  is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It comprises the boroughs of Mariakerke , Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest on the Belgian coast....

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 where he was preparing fortifications).

In 1824 he joined the Colonial Service
Colonial Service
The Colonial Service was the British government service which administered Britain's colonies and protectorates, under the authority of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Colonial Office in London....

 and served in the West Indies. He married Elizabeth Ramsay, the daughter of Major-General George Ramsay, in 1830. He and his wife had a son, Reginald Ramsay Gipps, who later became a general in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...


In 1834, Gipps became Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Auckland
George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland
George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, GCB, PC was a British Whig politician and colonial administrator. He was thrice First Lord of the Admiralty and also served as Governor-General of India between 1836 and 1842....

; and, a year later, he was sent to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 as a Commissioner, together with the Earl of Gosford
Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford
Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford GCB , styled The Honourable Archibald Acheson from 1790 to 1806 and Lord Acheson from 1806 to 1807, was a British politician who served as Lieutenant-Governor of Lower Canada and Governor General of British North America in the 19th century.-Background:Born at...

 and Sir Charles Edward Grey
Charles Edward Grey
Sir Charles Edward Grey GCH was a British politician.He was a younger son of Ralph William Grey of Backworth. Grey was educated at University College, Oxford, graduating in 1806, and elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford in 1808. He was called to the bar in 1811, and appointed a commissioner...

, to examine grievances there. He was knighted, promoted to the rank of major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

, and returned to England in April 1837. He was appointed Governor of New South Wales on 5 October 1837, and arrived at Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 on 23 February 1838.

Governor of New South Wales

This was a transition time for the settlement of Australia, with moves to bring settlers under the umbrella of responsible government, and associated limitations on land squatters
Squatting (pastoral)
In Australian history, a squatter was one who occupied a large tract of Crown land in order to graze livestock.  Initially often having no legal rights to the land, they gained its usage by being the first Europeans in the area....

. Gipps was greatly concerned about educational provision in the colony, as well as the implications of the end of transportation
Penal transportation
Transportation or penal transportation is the deporting of convicted criminals to a penal colony. Examples include transportation by France to Devil's Island and by the UK to its colonies in the Americas, from the 1610s through the American Revolution in the 1770s, and then to Australia between...


Education in the Colony

In 1844, less than half of the children in the Colony received any form of education, whether public or private. There was great controversy on whether to continue to subsidise denominational schools, which gave rise to educational sectarianism and was fairly inefficient, or to promote national schools, fully funded by the government. The major objections to any alternative schemes came from the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 and the matter was unresolved before he left.

Land management

One of Gipps' major tasks was to try and keep settler squatters within "boundaries of location" defined previously. A part of his stance, other than that of official policy, derived from the manner in which the settlers treated Aborigines
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 as their lands constantly spread out. Examples of this were the Myall and Waterloo Creek Massacres, where in 1838, 100 – 300 Aboriginal people were massacred on two separate occasions by squatters. This horrified Governor Gipps, and seven men were hanged for their part in the Myall Creek massacre.

As a partial result of this, and his inability to suppress vigilantism against Aborigines, in April 1844 Gipps issued regulations which required a licence fee of £10 a year from graziers, limited the area of most stations to 20 square miles (51.8 km²), and specified that no single licence covered a station capable of depasturing more than 500 head of cattle and 7000 sheep. This brought a storm of protests from the squatters and led to the foundation of the Pastoral Association of New South Wales, the resulting controversy continued until his departure.

Further difficulties in administering further-flung settlements continued because of the huge distances involved, difficult travel, and the lack of willingness of possible representatives to spend some time in Sydney for these purposes.

First Governor of New Zealand

In 1839, Gipps had his commission altered by Letters Patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

 and was reappointed as Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over the territory of New South Wales, the new boundaries of which included any land that might be acquired in sovereignty in New Zealand. William Hobson
William Hobson
Captain William Hobson RN was the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi.-Early life:...

 was also appointed Deputy Governor in 1839, and set sail for New Zealand in January 1840. Sydney merchants had been engaging in great speculation in Māori lands. As a result, the day after Hobson's departure, Gipps proclaimed that no title to land henceforth purchased in New Zealand would be recognised unless derived from a Crown grant. This is undoubtedly the origin of a similar provision in Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi
Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs from the North Island of New Zealand....

, as part of Hobson's remit for "securing British sovereignty over New Zealand by the negotiation of a Treaty between Māori and the Crown".

Until permanent arrangements could be put in place, the New South Wales Legislative Council enacted all applicable New Zealand law, and the New South Wales Land Regulations were also extended to New Zealand. Small grants were also provided, and Gipps provided an advisor and a small military detachment to take control in the possible event of Hobson's incapacity. Most of the day-to-day administration was carried out by Hobson, while Gipps retained control only of matters to do with the Imperial Prerogative. This arrangement ended in May 1841, when New Zealand became a Crown Colony
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

 in its own right.

Colonial financial difficulties

Transportation ended in 1843, much to the chagrin of the big landowners, who thus lost a large source of cheap labour. Gipps was largely in favour of free immigration financed by the government, but he also consented to a continuation of the bounty system. There was also a three-year drought, which resulted in a dearth of work for assisted settlers. Land values fell, leading to further vilification of his governorship by large landowners and other interested parties.

Return to England

While being extremely conscientious and fair-dealing in his governorship, Gipps' health was broken down by overwork and the constant invective from the settlers. His appointment had been extended for another two years after the original six, due to the high regard the Colonial Office held him in. Gipps did not wait for his successor, Charles Augustus FitzRoy
Charles Augustus FitzRoy
Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, KCH, KCB was a British military officer, politician and member of the aristocracy, who held governorships in several British colonies during the 19th century.-Family and peerage:...

, to arrive, departing Sydney in July 1846. He arrived in England in the November, and died at Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

 of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 on 28 February 1847.


Gippsland is a large rural region in Victoria, Australia. It begins immediately east of the suburbs of Melbourne and stretches to the New South Wales border, lying between the Great Dividing Range to the north and Bass Strait to the south...

 was named in Gipps' honour by his close friend the explorer Paweł Edmund Strzelecki.

See also

  • Governors of New South Wales
    Governors of New South Wales
    The Governor of New South Wales is the state viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is equally shared with 15 other sovereign nations in a form of personal union, as well as with the eleven other jurisdictions of Australia, and resides predominantly in her...

  • Governor-General of New Zealand
    Governor-General of New Zealand
    The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the monarch of New Zealand . The Governor-General acts as the Queen's vice-regal representative in New Zealand and is often viewed as the de facto head of state....

  • William Hobson
    William Hobson
    Captain William Hobson RN was the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi.-Early life:...

  • Gippsland
    Gippsland is a large rural region in Victoria, Australia. It begins immediately east of the suburbs of Melbourne and stretches to the New South Wales border, lying between the Great Dividing Range to the north and Bass Strait to the south...

External links

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