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Sir Ralph Darling
1775 - 1858

 


Birth
1775 at Brighton.
Early Life

Darling entered the British Army as an ensign in 1793 in the 45th Regiment of Foot, and in August 1796 was appointed military secretary to Sir Ralph Abercromby.

Having commanded a regiment at the Battle of Corunna, Darling subsequently was promoted to brevet-colonel in 1810, major-general in 1813, deputy adjutant general in 1814 and was on the Royal Horse Guards staff in 1815.

Between February 1819 and February 1824, Darling commanded the British troops on Mauritius, before serving as acting Governor of the colony for the last three years of his stay, exhibiting administrative ability.

Darling was very unpopular in Mauritius, particularly for allowing a British frigate to breach quarantine and start an epidemic of cholera.

He then suspended the island's Conseil de Commune when it protested his actions.

Nevertheless, it was largely on account of this service that Darling was appointed the seventh Governor of New South Wales in 1824

Married
On 13 October 1817, Darling married Elizabeth Dumaresq (born Macau 10 November 1798, died 3 September 1868).

When Darling was commissioned as Governor, the Colony’s western boundary – set in 1788 at 135 degrees east longitude – was extended by 6 degrees west to the 129th meridian.

This line of longitude subsequently became the border dividing Western Australia and South Australia. To the south, everything beyond Wilsons Promontory, the southeastern ‘corner’ of the Australian continent, ceased to be under the control of New South Wales and was placed under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land.

He proclaimed Van Diemen's Land as a separate government.

During his period as Governor, Darling was accused of tyrannical misrule by, amongst others, newspapers in England and Australia (including the Australian run by William Wentworth and Robert Wardell).

Allegations included that he ordered the torture of prisoners Joseph Sudds and Patrick Thompson as an example to others, leading to the death of Sudds.

He is said to have "ruthlessly and implacably countered all attempts to establish a theatre in Sydney".

He even introduced a law effectively banning the performance of drama.

The law stated that no form of public entertainment could take place without approval from the Colonial Secretary, and

Darling ensured that all such applications were rejected.

He did, however, permit concerts of music to take place.

Achievements

One of his outstanding achievements was his monetary and banking reform. At the time of his arrival the British Treasury had decided to eliminate the dollar currency in New South Wales by sending out British coin.

As the dollars fell in value, they were exported in large quantities, leaving the colony temporarily short of currency.

This economic slump combined with three years of drought to cause much distress, but gave Darling an opportunity to inquire into the colony's banks and to introduce stricter control before granting them the government loans they asked for.

Died

His departure for England was greeted by public rejoicing.

He died in 1858



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