(1795–1869) replaced John Hindmarsh as governor of SA in 1838. Like his predecessor, he was a distinguished soldier without civil experience rewarded with a colonial governorship. Gawler arrived to a colony in crisis, and declared a state of emergency. He added the power of Resident Commissioner to that of governor, ending the division of power that hindered Hindmarsh. He arranged for Charles Sturt to survey the remaining country lands; built a prison, customs house and harbour; and introduced a police force and government administration. By 1841 SA was a well-organised and thriving colony. Land settlement was under control and self-sufficiency a definite prospect. Gawler minimised capital expenditure where possible by exchanging land for the labour of private companies, but his work did rely heavily on government funding. For this he incurred the disapproval of the Board of Commissioners and the Colonial Office, and was recalled in 1841. He was replaced by George Grey, who disliked him, and fuelled suspicions that Gawler's extravagant spending had taken the colony near to bankruptcy. Gawler retired to a life of philanthropy and religion, and saw his reputation cleared before his death. Most officials soon accepted that his expenditure was vital, and that increases in immigration and the official pressure for the colony to become self-sufficient too quickly caused the financial problems. The town north of Adelaide was named after him.
From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.