George Arthur

George Arthur

Infobox Prime Minister
name =Sir George Arthur, 1st Baronet

birth_date =June 21, 1784
birth_place =Plymouth, England
death_date =September 19, 1854
death_place =
spouse =Eliza Orde Usher Smith
order =Superintendent of British Honduras
term_start =1814
term_end =1822
successor =A. H. Pye
predecessor =John Nugent Smyth
order2 =4th Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land
term_start2 =May 14, 1824
term_end2 =October 29, 1836
successor2 =Captain Sir John Franklin
predecessor2 =Colonel William Sorell
order3 =17th Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
term_start3 =1838
term_end3 =1841
successor3 =The Lord Sydenham
predecessor3 =Francis Bond Head
order4 =37th Governor of Bombay
term_start4 =1842
term_end4 =1846
successor4 =Lestock Robert Reid
predecessor4 =James Rivett-Carnac|

Lieutenant-General Sir George Arthur, 1st Baronet KCH PC (21 June, 1784 – 19 September, 1854) was Lieutenant Governor of British Honduras (1814–1822), Van Diemen's Land (now the State of Tasmania, part of Australia) (1823–1837) and later Upper Canada (1838–1841). He also served as Governor of Bombay (1842–1846).

Early life

George Arthur was born in Plymouth, England. He was the youngest son of John Arthur and his wife, Catherine, daughter of Thomas Cornish. He entered the army in 1804 as an ensign and was promoted lieutenant in June 1805. He served during the Napoleonic Wars including Sir James Craig's expedition to Italy in 1806. In 1807 he went to Egypt, and was severely wounded in the attack upon Rosetta. He recuperated and was promoted to captain under Sir James Kempt in Sicily in 1808, and participated in the Walcheren expedition in 1809.


In 1814 he was appointed lieutenant governor of British Honduras, holding at the same time the rank of colonel on the staff, thus exercising the military command as well as the civil government. His dispatches about the suppression of a slave revolt in Honduras were seen by William Wilberforce and other philanthropists, and contributed in no slight degree to the 1834 abolition of slavery within the British Empire.


In 1823 he was appointed lieutenant governor of Van Diemen's Land (later known as Tasmania) and took office on 14 May, 1824. At the time Van Diemen's Land was the main British penal colony and it was separated from New South Wales in 1825. It was during Arthur's time in office that Van Diemen's Land gained much of its notorious reputation as a harsh penal colony. He selected Port Arthur as the ideal location for a prison settlement, on a peninsula connected by a narrow, easily guarded isthmus, surrounded by shark-infested seas.

He is also associated with the repression and persecution of the Aboriginal population. During the 1820s, with relations between the colonists and Aborigines worsening, Arthur declared a state of martial law, and the conflict became known as the Black War. After Aboriginal attacks on colonist settlers, Arthur organized the Black Line fiasco, which was intended to drive the Aborigines onto peninsulas where they could be controlled.

He failed in his attempts to reform the colony and the system of penal transportation with Arthur's autocratic and authoritarian rule leading to his recall. By this time he was one of the wealthiest men in the colony. He returned to England in March 1837.


Later that year he was knighted, given the rank of Major General on the staff and appointed lieutenant governor of Upper Canada and took office in Toronto from March 23, 1838. From the very start of his administration, he had to deal with the aftermath of the Upper Canada Rebellion. In the same year, Upper Canada was invaded by a band of American sympathizers, one of a series of attempts to subvert British authority in Upper and Lower Canada. He failed to address the issues of fixing colonial administration from the influence of Family Compact.

The two colonies were united in 1841. The Lord Sydenham, the first governor-general, asked Sir George Arthur to administer Upper Canada as deputy governor. Arthur agreed, on condition that the service was unpaid. Later in 1841 he returned to England and was created a hereditary baronet in recognition of his services in Canada.


On 8 June, 1842, he was appointed governor of the Indian presidency of Bombay, which he retained until 1846. He displayed great tact in the office, as well as ability, and this helped in extending and strengthening British rule in India.

He was appointed provisional governor-general, but did not assume office, as he was compelled by ill health to leave India before Lord Hardinge vacated the governor-generalship.

Sir George Arthur, during his administration of the affairs of the presidency, perfected the Deccan survey, the object of which was to equalize and decrease the pressure of the land assessment on the cultivators of the Deccan; and gave his hearty support to the project of a railway line from Bombay to Cailian, which may be regarded as the germ of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, while during his administration the reclamation of the foreshore of the island of Bombay was projected.

Final Years

On his return to England in 1846, he was made a privy councillor, and in 1853 he received the colonelcy of the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot. He was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1854 and died that September.

See also

* Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
* Governor of Bombay
* Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land


*Dictionary of Australian Biography|First=George|Last=Arthur|Link=

External links

* [ Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [ Bio at Australian Dictionary of Biography]
* [ World Statesmen - Belize]

Further reading

*Alexander, Alison (editor) (2005)"The Companion to Tasmanian History"Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart. ISBN 186295223X.
*Robson, L.L. (1983) "A history of Tasmania. Volume 1. Van Diemen's Land from the earliest times to 1855"Melbourne, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195543645

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