George Milner Stephen

9 Feb 1838 George Milner Stephen was appointed Crown Solicitor and Advocate General (though appointed totally unqualified, through a mistaken identity by Hindmarsh !) then in November 1838 he was appointed Colonial Secretary under Governor Gawler, ending in an ignomous departure, although he returned to Adelaide in 1846.

Before reading the 1838 newpaper article below which starts off with a flowery acceptance speech by George Stephen, it is first recommended that you read his remarkable biography including corruption, land speculation, libel suits against the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register and marrying the boss's daughter. And a faith healer, to boot.

This article has no direct reference to Kangaroo Island, but it is included here as, after the first section about George Stephen, it continues giving us a glimpse of what was happening in Adelaide in 1838, including the names of many of the pioneers of that time.

Indigenous people are warned that it contains some paragraphs about the paternalistic treatment of aborigines, which some might find distressing. It is published here verbatim.

Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), Tuesday 27 November 1838, page 2


To the Honorable the Members of Council, and the Inhabitants of South Australia. Gentlemen — I am deeply sensibly of the kind feeling which has given rise to this very flattering address from the inhabitants of South Australia. In retiring from so distinguished and laborious a station as that of Governor of a country, which promises at no very distant day to rank among the greatest of the Earth, it will ever be a proud source of reflection to me that my temporary administration has elicited the applause of the respectable, wealthy, and influential colonists of South Australia. My public services, Gentlemen, which are mentioned with such undeserved eulogium, are but insignificant, however much the kindness of my friends may have magnified them. If I may claim tn possess a forebearing temper, a conciliatory disposition, and, I will take leave to add, an integrity of purpose, which has always in view the welfare of our noble province, and the happiness of its inhabitants, I have perhaps enumerated all the qualifications meriting such expressions of public regard. Admitting the principles upon which this colony is established, and warmly interested in its future success, it is highly gratifying to me to know that it has not retrograded in the period during which I have held the reigns of Government. Notwithstanding your flattering opinions, Gentlemen, I feel bound to attribute our unexampled tranqutlity to the good conduct of the labouring classes ; in the absence of which my own exertions, or those of the small Police Force, would have been of no avail. And therefore, I am led to anticipate that the superior morality of the people will ever be the characteristic, as it will assuredly prove the attraction of the province of South Australia. I thank you, brother colonists, sincerely for your kind congratulations upon my appointment to the high and responsible office of Colonial Secretary. While my heart tells me that its duties will be discharged with zeal and fidelity. I fervently hope that, upon resigning it into abler hands, I may entertain the conviction of having rendered some services to the community, and the estimable Officer who has recently assumed the administration of this important colony.

GEORGE M. STEPHEN. Adelaide, October 25, 1838.

Levee and Drawing-room.— On Wednesday, the first public reception of the colonists by his Excellency the Governor and Mrs Gawler took place at Government-house. Owing to the boisterous and unsettled state of the weather, a large number of ladies and gentlemen were precluded attending. Among the company presented, were the colonial officers — his Honour the Judge, Henry Jickling, Esq ; the Colonial Secretary, Honourable G. M. Stephen; the Advocate General, Robert Bernard, Esq ; the Treasurer. Osmond Gillies, Esq ; the Private Secretary, George Hall, Esq ; the Chaplain, the Rev. C. B. Howard ; the Protector of the Aborigines, Wm. Wyatt, Esq., the Emigration Agent, J. Brown, Esq ; the Postmaster-General, T. Gilbert, Esq ; and the following ladies, and gentlemen :— Messrs Austin, G. Alston, C. Berkeley, Brown, N. B. Bull, Birds-eye, W. H. Coyler, De Horne, Davis, Dutton, Edmonds, Fisher, Finniss, Gleeson, E. H. Gleeson, Gillard, Hallett, Hardy, Hawkins, Inman, Johnson, Knold, Kingston, Levey, McLeod, M'Pherson, McLaren, Mildred, Nash, Newenham, Nixon, Ormsby, Oldham, Philcox, Russell. Smart, Silke, Sandford. Stow, Watts, Walker, Wigley, Woodforde, and Wright. Mesdames Berkeley, Brown, Bull, Cotter, De Horne, Davis, Edmonds, Finniss, Fisher, Gleeson, Gillard, Howard, Hallett, Morphett, Nash, Newenham, Nixon, Stow, Smart, Sand-ford, Watts, Walker, Woodforde, Wyatt, Wright, Misses Blundea, Conway, Neville, Newenham, &c.

The Natives.— A scene, which we venture to assert has not yet had its parallel on this continent, was witnessed by the assembled inhabitants of Adelaide on Thursday last. In consequence of a desire expressed by his Excellency Colonel Gawler, the whole natives of the district of Adelaide were assembled ; and public intimation of the Governor's intention to meet and entertain them having been given, almost the entire population of Adelaide congregated to witness the proceedings of the day, and join in the festive happiness of their dark-complexioned brethren. About one o'clock, his Excellency, accompanied by Mrs Gawler, the members of his family, and a numerous assembly of ladies and gentlemen, proceeded to the ground appointed for the meeting — a sheltered and picturesque spot in the park eastward of Government-house. Here a plenteous supply of roast beef, tea, sugar, rice, and biscuit was provided. In a short time, a band of about 200 of our friendly natives were seen approaching, accompanied by their lubras and wak-waks (wives and children), headed by Onkaparinga Jack, Captain Jack, both native constables, and numerous other natives well known to the people ; Mr Wyatt, the Protector, also attended, and was assisted on the occasion by James Cronk, the interpreter, and William Williams, the deputy store-keeper, both great favourites of the natives, and tolerably versed in their language and customs. The party was received by the assembled multitude with three hearty English cheers, which were returned by the natives with equal good-will. The latter had evidently arrayed themselves in holiday attire, in which they were assisted by various tassels and gaily-coloured ribbons which had previously been distributed among them. After the party had been arranged, his Excellency, who wore a Governor's full dress uniform, approached and welcomed the natives with great kindness. He then requested silence from those around, and read; in a most impressive style; the following address :—

"Black men — We wish to make you happy. But you cannot be happy unless you imitate good white men. Build huts, wear clothes, work and be useful. Above all things you cannot be happy unless you love God who made Heaven and earth and men and all things. Love white men. Love other tribes of black men. Do not quarrel together. Tell other tribes to love white men, and to build good huts and wear clothes. Learn to speak English. If any white man injure you, tell the Protector and he will do you justice. "

Mr Wyatt then stepped forward and repeated his Excellency's address to the natives, which they listened to with great earnestness and attention. A circle was now formed, and the natives being seated, dinner was served. We need not add that ample justice was done to the huge platters of roast beef, or that copious libations of tea were swallowed. A large quantity of rugs, blankets, woollen frocks, caps, tin dishes, and cups were distributed amongst them, with which they appeared highly delighted. Sunk as these poor people are in the scale of human existence, there is a strongly-marked sense of gratitude and a lively recollection of past kindnesses. It was pleasant to observe the numerous happy looks of recognition that were passing to and from themselves and the looker-on ; and this circumstance afforded another gratifying evidence — not only of the friendly disposition of the natives themselves towards the settlers, but of the great forbearance and consideration with which they have been treated by them. The repast being finished, the Governor and a large party of the ladies and gentlemen retired to the marquee which was erected on the ground and partook of the ample refreshments provided by the hospitable care of his Excellency and his lady. The natives afterwards exhibited their skill in throwing the spear; but whether it was owing to the novelty of the scene or the unusual nature of the object (a target), there was nothing like the dexterity we expected shown. His Excellency and the inhabitants now left the ground, and the natives — well-laden with the fragments of the feast, and in great good humour, departed to their usual haunts.

Colonel Light. — We have great pleasure in announcing to our readers, that an address to His Excellency the Governor is in course of signature, and now lies at the Post Office and the Bank, praying Colonel Gawler to re-appoint Colonel Light to the Surveyor General-ship of this colony. The resignation of Mr Kingston renders this measure, in itself of the highest importance to the holders of preliminary reserves, and the public generally, almost imperative ; and we have the strongest ground to believe, His Excellency will promptly act upon a recommendation, backed by the earnest request of nineteen twentieths of the landed proprieters.

Advance Australia — We have the pleasure to announce that 22 bales of South Australian Wool were shipped for the London market on the 11th instant, on board the Africaine, Captain McTaggart. This, we believe, is the second shipment which has been made of what will, ere long, be considered our staple article of produce, some having been shipped last year by Mr. Hallett.

The Mechanics' Institute.— This really useful Institution has recently had its library considerably augmented, and can now boast of a good selection of standard works. This of course must be highly gratifying to the members, and we trust will be the means of inducing others to join. We would recommend this Institution to the patronage of His Excellency. We understand there will be a lecture on Tuesday next, on Architecture, by Mr. Gordon.

Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), Tuesday 27 November 1838, page 2