Brisbane’s legacy

The four-year governorship of Sir Thomas Brisbane, from 1821 to 1825, left a colony transformed, both socially and geographically. He’d been tasked with fostering its pastoral potential, but also advancing public life.

In 1824, Brisbane gave approval to the convict-born William Charles Wentworth and fellow barrister Robert Wardell to set up an independent newspaper, The Australian, which openly embraced the ex-convict community, much to the annoyance of the colonial gentry.

By widening the powers of the Supreme Court and establishing a NSW Legislative Council, Brisbane gave the colony its first glimpse of representative government. Among the council’s first actions was the introduction of jury trials in civil cases.

By the end of Brisbane’s term, most of Bigge’s instructions had been put in place and he departed the colony ‘without regret’, leaving behind his astronomical instruments and a library of 350 scientific books.