Magazine article M A R G I N: life & letters in early Australia

A New Biography of Governor Bourke

Magazine article M A R G I N: life & letters in early Australia

A New Biography of Governor Bourke

Article excerpt

Called Forgotten Hero by Max Waugh this is a new look at the important Richard Bourke who was the Governor of New South Wales from 1831 until 1837. I am particularly interested in Bourke because his term as Governor covers the period of John Lang's boyhood in Sydney from the age of fourteen to twenty one when he left for England. Also Governor Bourke was especially interested in education and this biography takes a special look into that subject. Richard Bourke was born in Ireland in 1777 into an Anglo-Irish family. He was distantly related to Edmund Burke and was greatly influenced by his famous relative. His early years were spent in military service in the wars against Napoleon often with Wellington in Spain. On one occasion he returned home because his wile was seriously ill but his family increased and he had a total of two sons and three daughters. He spent time on the family property in Ireland. Like many men at the time he was often in financial difficulty.

It is interesting to see that Richard Bourke dealt with the troublesome situation in Cape Province, South Africa as Acting Governor from 1825 to 1828. Here he had to deal with the large Dutch population and the discontented immigrant British settlers problems mainly with the legal organisation stemming from the Dutch legal system. Then there was in addition the question of slavery to cope with.

His appointment as Governor of New South Wales followed and he had conflicts with the establishment here--conflicts over his ideas and concern for education. …

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