Sir Ralph Darling
|7th Governor of New South Wales|
19 December 1825 – 21 October 1831
|Preceded by||Thomas Brisbane|
|Succeeded by||Richard Bourke|
|Died||2 April 1858
General Sir Ralph Darling, GCH (1772 – 2 April 1858) was Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831. He is remembered as a tyrant, accused of torturing prisoners, and he banned theatrical entertainment. He also built new roads and extended the boundaries of the colony . Many local geographical features are named after him.
Darling entered the British Army as an ensign on 15 May 1793 in the 15th Regiment of Foot, and in August 1796 was appointed military secretary to Sir Ralph Abercromby. Having commanded a regiment at the Battle of Corunna, Darling subsequently was promoted to brevet-colonel on 25 July 1810, major-general on 4 June 1813, deputy adjutant general in 1814 and was on the Royal Horse Guards staff in 1815.
Between February 1819 and February 1824, Darling commanded the British troops on Mauritius, before serving as acting Governor of the colony for the last three years of his stay, exhibiting administrative ability. Darling was very unpopular in Mauritius, particularly for allowing a British frigate to breach quarantine and start an epidemic of cholera. He then suspended the island's Conseil de Commune when it protested his actions. Nevertheless, it was largely on account of this service that Darling was appointed the seventh Governor of New South Wales in 1824.
Governor of New South Wales
When Darling was commissioned as Governor, the Colony’s western boundary – set in 1788 at 135 degrees east longitude – was extended by 6 degrees west to the 129th meridian. This line of longitude subsequently became the border dividing Western Australia and South Australia. To the south, everything beyond Wilsons Promontory, the southeastern ‘corner’ of the Australian continent, ceased to be under the control of New South Wales and was placed under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land. He proclaimed Van Diemen's Land as a separate government.
During his tenure, Darling was accused of tyrannical misrule by, amongst others, newspapers in England and Australia (including the Australian run by William Wentworth and Robert Wardell). Allegations included that he ordered the torture of prisoners Joseph Sudds and Patrick Thompson as an example to others, leading to the death of Sudds.
He is said to have "ruthlessly and implacably countered all attempts to establish a theatre in Sydney". He even introduced a law effectively banning the performance of drama. The law stated that no form of public entertainment could take place without approval from the Colonial Secretary, and Darling ensured that all such applications were rejected. He did permit concerts of music to take place.
His departure for England was greeted by public rejoicing.
On 13 October 1817, Darling married Elizabeth Dumaresq (born Macau 10 November 1798, died 3 September 1868). He was an older brother of Major-General Henry Darling, father of Sir Charles Henry Darling,KCB.
Named after Ralph Darling
The following features are named after Ralph Darling or members of his immediate family:
- Darling River
- Darling Harbour
- Darling Downs
- Darling Scarp, also referred to as the Darling Range or Darling Ranges
- Darling Street, the main thoroughfare of Balmain
- The Sydney suburbs of Darlinghurst and Darling Point
- "GOVERNORS.". Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876) (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 6 January 1868. p. 4 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Darling, Sir Ralph (1772 - 1858)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1. MUP. 1966. pp. 282–286. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
- "Notes and Queries.". Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 7 August 1880. p. 17. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Eric Irvin, Dictionary of the Australian Theatre 1788-1914
- Mennell, Philip (1892). " Darling, Lieut.-General Sir Ralph". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource
Additional resources listed by the ADB:
- Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 12-17; E. S. Hall [sic], Reply in Refutation of the Pamphlets of Lieut-Gen R. Darling (Lond, 1833), by R. Robison; L. N. Rose, ‘The Administration of Governor Darling’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 8, part 2, 1922, pp 49–96 and vol 8, part 3, 1922, pp 97–176; Parliamentary Debates (Great Britain) (3), 29, 30; Parliamentary Papers (House of Commons, Great Britain), 1828 (538), 1830 (586), 1830-31 (241), 1831-32 (163, 620), 1835 (580); A. S. Forbes, Sydney Society in Crown Colony Days (State Library of New South Wales); manuscript catalogue under Ralph Darling (State Library of New South Wales).
- Darling's Commission as NSW Governor (document scans, discussion)
- Detailed discussion of the Sudds and Thompson case
- Family tree
- Brian H. Fletcher (1984). Ralph Darling: A Governor Maligned. Oxford University Press. p. 473. ISBN 0-19-554564-8.
- Edward Duyker, ‘An Elegant Defence of a Colonial Governor’, Australian Rationalist Quarterly, No. 22, June 1985, p. 14.
|Governor of New South Wales