Sir George Ferguson Bowen
November 1821 – 21 February 1899) was a British colonial administrator whose appointments included
postings to the Ionian
Zealand, Victoria , Mauritius and Hong
- This article is about the colonial administrator.
For the English footballer of the same name, see here.
George Bowen was born the eldest son of the Rev. Edward Bowen, in
Taughboyne, County Donegal, Ireland.
educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Oxford, where two of his predecessors were also
educated. Bowen, twice President of the Union, was
awarded a first class Bachelor of Arts degree in classics in 1844, and was elected a fellow of
College. He received an MA degree in 1847 and entered Lincoln's Inn in 1844. From 1847 to 1851 he was president of the
Ionian University of Corfu.
Service in the Ionian Islands
to 1859, George Bowen served as the chief secretary of government
in the Ionian
While in that post, he married the Contessa
Diamantina di Roma
on 28 April
1856. Diamantina was the daughter of Conte Giorgio-Candiano Roma
and his wife Contessa Orsola, née di Balsamo. The Roma family were
local aristocracy; her father being the President of the Ionian
Senate, titular head of the Ionian Islands, from 1850 to 1856.
Governor of Queensland
later in 1859, he was appointed the first Governor of Queensland, a colony
that had just been separated from New South Wales. He was interested in the exploration of
Queensland and in the establishment of a volunteer force, but incurred some unpopularity by
refusing to sanction the issue of inconvertible paper money during the financial crisis of
But overall, he was quite popular in Queensland, so
much so that the citizens requested an extension of his 5-year term
as governor, resulting in his staying for a further two
Governor of New Zealand
Bowen was made Governor of New Zealand, where he was successful in reconciling the
Māori reaction to the British rule there,
and saw the end of the struggle between the colonists and the
(For a rather different view of the conflict and
its partial resolution, see New
Zealand land wars
). He also instituted the New Zealand Cross
, one of the rarest
bravery awards in the world, equivalent to the Victoria Cross
Governor of Victoria
Bowen was transferred to Victoria as Governor of
Victoria, where he embarked on an endeavour to reduce the
expenses of the colony.
Governor of Mauritius
Bowen was 13th Governor of
Mauritius from 4 Apr 1879 to 9 Dec 1880.
Governor of Hong Kong
March 1883, Bowen was made Governor of Hong Kong, a position in which he served until 1887, when he
retired due to ill health.
This was his last post in the
his tenure, Bowen established the Royal Observatory, which became the meteorological institute for all
of Hong Kong. He also established the first college in the
territory, and ordered the construction of the Typhoon Shelter in
Bay, and a government hospital.
retired to England after his tenure as Governor of Hong Kong, and was
appointed as a chief of a Royal Commission which was sent to
Malta with regard to the new constitution for the island
in December 1887.
All recommendations made by Bowen were
adopted. Afterwards, Bowen served as a privy councillor
Sir George Bowen
Bowen was married twice.
His first wife was Contessa Diamantina
, daughter of Count Candiano
. They had the following children:
child, a son who died twelve days old, born in the Ionian Islands
- Adelaide Diamantina (Nina) Bowen, born 17
August 1858 in the Ionian
Caroline Bowen, born 28 August 1860 at Adelaide House (the
temporary Government House), Brisbane, Queensland
Herbert Bowen, born 26 July 1862 at Government
House in Brisbane, Queensland
- George William Howard Bowen, born 9 April
1864 at Government House, Brisbane, Queensland
- Alfreda Ernestina Albertina Bowen, born 10
April 1869 at Government House, Auckland, New
Diamantina died in London in 1893 aged about 60 years old.
married his second wife, Letitia Florence White, in late 1896 at
Florence was the daughter of Dr Thomas Luby, a mathematician, and
was the widow of Henry White, whom she married in 1878.
Ferguson Bowen died on 21 February 1899 in Brighton, Sussex, England aged 77 years old.
He died from bronchitis
after a short illness of 2 days.
buried on 25 February 1899 in Kensal Green cemetery, London.
- Ithaca, 1850 (London, 1854 translated into Greek in 1859)
- Mount Athos, Thessaly and Epirus (London, 1852);
- Murray's Handbook for Greece (London, 1854).
- Thirty Years of Colonial Government (London, 1889,
edited by S. Lane-Poole)
Places named in his honour
His wife Diamantina
appears to have
been more popular than George in Queensland, as there are many
Queensland places named after her
Read about his wife Lady Diamantina
for a more fullsome account of the social and personal
life of the couple.
- Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Australian
Dictionary of Biography
- Dictionary of Australian Biography - Project
- The Arrival & Reception of His Excellency Sir
G.F. Bowen, First Governor of Queensland,
Moreton Bay Courier, Tuesday 13 December 1859, page 2
- Departure of Governor Sir G.F. Bowen, The Brisbane Courier, Monday 6 January
1868, page 2
- Reception of Sir G.F. Bowen in New Zealand, The Brisbane Courier,
Tuesday 3 March 1868, page 3
- Farewell Ball to the Governor, Waikato
Times, Volume III, Issue 135, 20 March 1873, Page 2
- Death of Sir George Bowen, Brisbane Courier,
Thursday 23 February 1899
- The Late Sir George Bowen, Brisbane Courier,
Monday 27 February 1899
- Death of Sir George Bowen, Wanganui Herald,
Volume XXXIII, Issue 9676, 23 February 1899, Page 2