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From the President - November 2020

Thursday, October 29, 2020 11:12 AM | Anonymous

From the President

Dear members, I hope you are keeping well and enjoying the spectacular displays of our jacarandas and silky oaks in full bloom at this time of year.


Thank you to all those members who attended the AGM via zoom on 20 October and who participated in the poll in advance of the meeting to progress important resolutions, including the election of a new Council for 2020-2021. All resolutions were carried and endorsed at the meeting. The incoming Council comprises an excellent balance of experienced continuing members, plus one new member. Together they provide academic, business, educational and professional expertise. I am honoured to have been appointed as President for another year and look forward to working with Councillors, staff and members to move our Society forward in 2021 and especially to see what can be accomplished before the end of 2020, this very unusual year.

At Government House 

On the 1st October, I represented the RGSQ at Government House at an afternoon tea celebrating the Queen’s birthday. At a table with Dr Ross Hynes, the President of the Royal Society of Queensland and Mr. Stephen Sheaffe, President of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, we discussed how the challenges of 2020 had affected our respective societies. During the proceedings, His Excellency, The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, patron of all three Societies, presented three documents, two of which have great historical significance for Queensland’s Foundations and will henceforth be kept in the Queensland State Archives:

Queensland’s birth certificate - a copy of the Letters Patent, signed by Queen Victoria dated 6 June 1859, establishing the separate Colony of Queensland. This copy was brought back to Queensland by Governor de Jersey following his visit to the National Archives in Kew, UK in November 2019.

Bowen’s Instructions” – this is the original document, signed by Queen Victoria, dated 6 June 1859, issued to the first Queensland Governor Sir George Bowen who arrived in Brisbane on HMS Cordelia. These instructions guided Governor Bowen in establishing the system of democratic government prescribed by Queensland’s first Constitution and the Letters Patent. In 1868, Sir George Bowen left Queensland to serve as Governor of New Zealand, Mauritius, and Hong Kong before returning to England. He, apparently, took the original instructions document for Queensland with him! After persistent and eventual successful overtures to Sir George and Lady Bowen’s descendants, the redoubtable Queensland Women’s Historical Association (QWHA) acquired the original document in the 1960s. On 1st May 1992, the QWHA presented a selection of items belonging to Sir George, including Bowen’s Instructions, to then Governor Sir Walter Campbell.

These two documents provide a detailed description of Queensland’s foundations and join other documents in the State Archives - the original Order in Council and the Proclamation read on 10 December 1859 from the balcony of Adelaide House, now in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane.

The Government House Collection – Items of Historical and Heritage Interest – a booklet describing more than 1500 historical items, including portraits, works of art and furniture acquired and held at Government House over the past 160 years.

Copies of Bowen’s Instructions and the Items of Historical and Heritage Interest booklet have now been donated to the RGSQ library.

With best wishes

Dr. Iraphne Childs, President

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