Governors and Surveyors
Personalities in the GNR Project
Over the period from about 1790 until the 1840, there were several Governors of the Colony who gave impetus to the road building program. Their involvement will be part of the story which is being presented in the pages that follow. Two men acted as Governor for a period between the departure of one Governor and the arrival of his replacement. Their period in power did not help some aspects of the development of the Colony though some of the work they did was important to the future of the country.
During the same period, Surveyor-Generals were an important part of the planning for the construction of main roads in New South Wales. They gave vital attention to the exploration of the hinterland of the Colony. Their names will appear regularly throughout the story of the Great North Road.
To provide some background, before launching into the story of the Great North Road, each of the key personalities involved are mentioned next.
It is interesting to have an indication of the succession of the Governors and Surveyors General of New South Wales over the period of interest when exploration of the inland of the State began, together with the search for ways to go from one area to another and eventually the start on the making of a great road system for New South Wales. Here is a list giving the incumbents and the periods when they held responsibility:
1788-1792 Governor Arthur Phillip - Navy
There was an interregnum between Governor Phillip and the arrival of Governor Hunter. During this period, the actions of the Lieutenant-Governors and the New South Wales Corps made changes to the administration including removal of civil magistrates and appointment of officers, making extravagant grants of land to officers, allowing them an excessive supply of convict labour and the use of rum as payment, with disastrous effects on free settlers, emancipists, the poor and the convict groups. The three Governors who followed had the difficult task of correcting the social and political situations that developed.
• (a) 1792-1794 Lieutenant-Governor - Major Francis Grose, New South Wales Corps
• (b) 1794-1795 Lieutenant-Governor - Captain Paterson, New South Wales Corps
1795-1800 Governor John Hunter - Navy
1800-1806 Governor Gidley King - Navy
1806-1809 Governor William Bligh - Navy
Governor Lachlan Macquarie - Army, Soldier
1821-1825 Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane - Army, Soldier
1825-1837 Governor Ralph Darling - Army, Soldier
1831-1837 Governor Sir Richard Bourke - Army, Soldier
1838-1846 Governor Sir George Gipps - Army, Soldier
1846-1855 Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy - Civilian Administrator
Captain John Oxley, Surveyor General of New South Wales - c1800-d.1827
Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General of New South Wales - 27 May 1828-c1851
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