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Sir George Gipps
1791 - 28 February 1847


 


Born
Gipps was born in 1791 at Ringwold, Kent, England the son of the Rev. George Gipps.
Education
He was educated at The King's School, Canterbury, and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.
Early Years

In 1809 he joined the Royal Engineers and served in the Peninsular War as well as elsewhere in Europe (although he missed the Battle of Waterloo due to his posting in Ostend, Belgium where he was preparing fortifications).

In 1824 he joined the Colonial Service and served in the West Indies.

In 1834 Gipps became Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Auckland; and, a year later, he was sent to Canada as a Commissioner, together with the Earl of Gosford and Sir Charles Edward Grey, to examine grievances there.

He was knighted, promoted to the rank of major, and returned to England in April 1837.

Married

He married Elizabeth Ramsay, the daughter of Major-General George Ramsa in 1830.

He and his wife had a son, Reginald Ramsay Gipps, who later became a general in the British Army.

Governor of New South Wales

Gipps was appointed Governor of New South Wales on 5 October 1837 and arrived at Sydney on 23 February 1838.

He was Governor of the colony of New South Wales, Australia, 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, which was administered as part of New South Wales for much of this period.

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.

Settlers at the time were not happy with his move towards responsible government, although contemporaries at the Colonial Office found him to be an able administrator.

He was greatly concerned about educational provision in the colony, as well as the implications of the end of transportation.

Education Policy

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 and the matter was unresolved before he left.

End of Transportation

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.

Death

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, to arrive, departing Sydney in July 1846.

He arrived in England in November, and died at Canterbury of a heart attack on 28 February 1847.

 


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