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Sir George Grey: Chronology

Information about the life of former South Australian Governor George Grey.

Events related to Sir George Grey, 1812 - 1898


    George Grey born at Lisbon, Portugal 14 April, 1812. Parents Colonel George Grey and Elizabeth Anne ( nee Vignoles).         Father died a week before the birth of his son.


     Boarding School at Guildford. Ran away.


     Royal Military College Sandhurst


     Gazetted to 83rd Regiment Foot In Ireland as Ensign.


     Promotion to Lieutenant, but disliked fellow officers and the harsh life. Interested in emigration of the poor, and Australia.


     Sailed from Plymouth in the Beagle - leader of a government exploration expedition to Western Australia. 


     April 1839 promoted to Captain.
     June 1839 appointed Resident Magistrate Western Australia.
     2 November 1839 Married Eliza Lucy Spencer, daughter of Sir Richard Spencer, previous Resident magistrate Western         Australia.
     Believed in compulsory assimilation to save the aboriginal people.


     May 1841. Grey arrives in South Australia.


     Grey's Bills dishonoured.
     Colonists call for Captain Grey to be recalled. Improvements towards end of year. Bumper wheat harvest. Shortage of            farmhands, soldiers used to bring in the wheat. Development of the Ridley Stripper. Price of sheep low, but tallow used          for soap and candles on an extensive scale.


     Discovery of copper announced at Kapunda by Bagot and Dutton (found 1842).
     Recovery of state's economy.


     Assisted immigration resumed. Burra Burra copper production.
     Hagen and Baker sued Grey over an old government debt.
     Grey abolished port and harbour dues. Acclaimed by the public.
     26 October, Governor Grey left South Australia for New Zealand to become Governor there. Suppressed Maori rebellions      in the Bay of Islands, but retained goodwill of the chiefs.




     Recalled to England.


     June 1854 Governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for South Africa until recalled in 1859. The recall was               cancelled.


     Returning to South Africa quarrelled with Lady Grey and they separated.

1861 - 1869 

     Grey left Cape Town, and in October 1861 became Governor of New Zealand for a second time until dismissed in 1868.        War with the Maoris in 1863. Returned to England - not successful in entering Parliament as a Gladstonian Liberal.

1870 - 1879

     Retired to New Zealand in 1870, and in 1874 re-entered politics, continuing in the House of Representatives for next              twenty years, with one term as Premier in 1877-79.
     Taxed unimproved value of land in 1878.
     Championed trade unions and voluntary arbitration.


     Plural voting abolished in New Zealand after years of fighting for its abolition.


     18 April 1891 Return to Adelaide as delegate to the Australasian Federal Convention.


     In London. Reunited formally but unhappily with his wife.


     Died in London 19 September 1898, and buried in St Paul's Cathedral.


Australian dictionary of biography. Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press; London; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1966 - and the Australian dictionary of biography online edition

The cyclopedia of South Australia in two volumes: an historical and commercial review, descriptive and biographical facts, figures and illustrations: an epitome of progress edited by H.T. Burgess. Hampstead Gardens, S. Aust.: Austaprint, 1978.

There are some newspaper cuttings volumes which can be accessed at the Information Desk.