Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert: The First Premier of Queensland

In the year 1860, the first parliament of Queensland sat and the first elections were conducted. After the elections, the first premier of the state was appointed on 22nd may 1860, and it was Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert. His life was prolific as a politician and public servant. Here are some interesting facts about him. Have a look.


  • Sir Robert Herbert was a citizen of England who was born on 12th June 1831 in Brighton, Sussex. His father was the fifth son of first Earl of Carnarvon but Robert was an only child of his parents.
  • He was home schooled then went to study at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. During his years as a student, he received numerous scholarships and even became an Eldon Law Scholar.
  • Before becoming the premier of Queensland in 1860, Herbert was William Ewart Gladstone’s private secretary and called to the bar of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 1858.
  • At the age of 28 years, Herbert was the first and the youngest premier to be elected for an Australian state. He came to Queensland with Sir George Bowen when he came to be the first governor of the state. He was Bowen’s private secretary and upon arrival in Queensland he was gazetted as colonial secretary.
  • Herbert was a good leader and sailed through his tenure as the premier from 1859 to 1866 excellently.
  • After completing his tenure, Robert Herbert returned to England and became Assistant-Secretary to the Board of Trade in 1870. In 1871, he went on to become the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies and held the position for 21 long years with great success and acknowledgement.
  • Other positions he held after being the under-secretary included Knight Grand Cross (GCB), Knights Commander (KCB), and chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George. In the year 1893 he became the agent general of Tasmania and later in 1903 he was appointed as the tariff commission’s chairman.
  • Robert Herbert was a diplomatic and strong leader who was generally liked by the people he worked with.
  • The legacy of Herbert lives on as a Herston a suburb of Brisbane is named after his farmhouse with the same name. Also, there is a Herbert River in the Far North Queensland.

The Takeaway

Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert was an amenable and dynamic politician and public servant with a prolific career. He was the first and the youngest premier of Queensland and any state of Australia. Hopefully, the information shared above will help you know more about him and increase your knowledge of Queensland’s rich history.


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