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Old Government House ogh graphic

ogh at night

The Governors

The Governor's role as the representative of the Sovereign and Queensland's Head of State was primarily that of an administrator. Legislation was debated and drafted in parliament and then passed as a bill to the Governor who, as the Queen's representative, was authorised to grant it the Royal Assent, which made it an official Act of Parliament. In almost every case the Governor was expected to follow the advice of the Premier and Executive Council, but there were a few contentious instances where the Governor exercised his prerogative to withhold assent and refer the decision to the Imperial Government in England for further review or advice.

Apart from these political responsibilities, the Governor undertook a great deal of ceremonial duties. He opened parliament and new bridges, turned the sod at important public works such as Queensland's first railway and attended a multitude of functions that encouraged or supported Queensland's development. The Governor also hosted visiting dignitaries, who often stayed at Government House during their time in Brisbane. Entertaining was considered one of the most important aspects of a Governor's duties, as was being an active patron of the arts. The Governor and his wife (if he had one) were key figures in the establishment of society and culture in the new colony through the hosting of balls and receptions and through their attendance at the theatre and musical concerts. Assisting charitable organisations by holding fundraising fetes or concerts at Government House or as their Patron were also an important and vital social duty of the Governor and his wife.

In the intervals between appointments, when the incoming Governor was travelling out here, or when he was away on business or leave, a Lieutenant Governor stood in for him.

Eleven governors and their families lived in the House over a period of almost fifty years.

Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1859–1868)

Col Samuel Wensley Blackall (1868–1871)

George Augustus Constantine Phipps, Marquis of Normanby (1871–1874)

William Wellington Cairns (1875–1877)

Sir Arthur Kennedy (1877–1883)

Sir Anthony Musgrave (1883–1888)

Sir Henry Wylie Norman (1889–1895)

Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Ballie, Baron Lamington (1896–1901)

Sir Herbert Charles Chermside (1902–1904)

Frederic John Napier Thesiger, Baron Chelmsford (1905–1909)

Sir William MacGregor (1909–1914)

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