Sir George Ferguson Bowen: The First Governor of Queensland

From 10 December 1859 to 04 January1868, the governor of Queensland was Sir George Ferguson Bowen. The state needed a governor after Queen Victoria signed the Letters of Patent in 1859 approving the creation of Queensland as a colony and separating it from the colony of New South Wales. To help the new colony handle its affairs, the system of governors was established and the constitutional tradition of having a governor is still upheld. The current governor of Queensland is the 26th one and continuing the tradition.

The appointment of Sir George Bowen was instrumental for the politics and governance of Queensland especially since it was a new colony. His influence on the state was far greater than any of the future governors. Want to know more about him? Then here are some interesting things about him and his life as the Governor of Queensland.


  • Sir George Ferguson Bowen arrived in Brisbane on the same day he was appointed the governor of the state and the colony was separated from New South Wales. He was accompanied by his wife Lady Diamantina. The proclamation of the formation of the colony was made to a loud applause from the balcony of the Government house which is now the Deanery of St John’s Cathedral.
  • To become the governor, Sir George Bowen came from England. Along with him Robert George Wyndham Herbert also came who later became the first premier of Queensland in 1860.
  • Before becoming the governor of Queensland, Sir George Bowen held many prestigious positions such as president of the Ionian University located in Corfu, the chief secretary to the Ionian Islands Government, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) and Knight Commander (KCMG).
  • As the governor of Queensland Bowen has interest in establishing a volunteer force, exploration of the state etc. During the financial crisis of 1866, barring his refusal sanction the problem of inconvertible paper money, the citizens of Queensland remained generally in favour of him.
  • His stay was requested to be extended for 5 years more after his first five years were over. The request resulted in the extension of his term for two more years.
  • After his term as the governor ended, Bowen moved on to become the Governor of New Zealand in 1867. During his tenure he successfully reconciled the Māori’s reaction to the British rule and brought the New Zealand Wars to an end.
  • Later in March, 1873 he became the Governor of Victoria which was the newest colony of Australia that time. Subsequently in the year1879, we was made the Governor of Mauritius and in 1883 the Governor of Hong Kong.
  • After serving as governor for various British colonies, Sir George Bowen returned to England and became the chief of a Royal Commission that was sent to Malta and later became a part of the Queen’s Privy Council.


Sir George Ferguson Bowen was a dynamic, charming, and strong leader who headed many colonies and will always be remembered as the first Governor of Queensland.

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