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COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA.
GOVERNORS' DESPATCHES TO AND FROM ENGLAND.
Richard BOURKE was the eighth governor-in-chief of the territory of New South Wales and its dependencies, and the second governor-in-chief in and over the island of Van Diemen's land (Tasmania).
As governor-in-chief of New South Wales, he exercised a salutary influence in the development and expansion of reforms initiated under his predecessor, in the firm establishment of changes ordered by the British cabinet, and in the introduction of new methods which he realised were necessary from his previous administrative experience. During his government, religious freedom was recognised; the powers of patronage held by his predecessors were finally curtailed; the legislative council acquired full control over the expenditure of the colony; the first principles of modern land laws were introduced; trial by jury was developed on the principles of British law; immigration was subsidised from land revenue; and the long-continued feud between the free settlers and the emancipists was gradually lost in oblivion.
As governor-in-chief of Van Diemen's land, his influence was nominal. By the provisions of his commission, in the event of his death or absence from the territorial limits of the island, the government devolved on the lieut.-governor of the island. As he never visited the island, he exercised no control over the civil administration, although, as captain-general, he held a general direction over the military.
Richard Bourke was born on the 4th of May, 1777* He was the son of John Bourke of Thornfield, co. Limerick, Ireland, by his marriage with Anne, daughter of Edward Ryan of Dublin, and of Boscobel, co. Tipperary. John Bourke was the grandson of Richard Bourke of Drumsally, co. Limerick. The family
* This date is recorded in the Annual Register and Gentleman's Magazine for 1855. The date recorded on his tombstone is said to be 1778.
SER. I. Vol. XVI--b