After several public meetings held from 1851 onwards advocating the establishment of Queensland as a separate colony, Queen Victoria gave her approval and signed the Letters Patent establishing the new colony of Queensland on 6 June 1859. On the same day, an Order-in-Council gave Queensland its own Constitution. Queensland thus became a separate colony with an appointed Governor, a nominated Legislative Council and an elected Legislative Assembly. On 10 December 1859, the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Alfred Lutwyche administered the oath to Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Queensland's first Governor. The Queen’s Commission was read by the newly-appointed Colonial Secretary, Robert Herbert, and the proclamation of the Letters Patent was read by Abram Moriarty, Governor Bowen’s acting private secretary, officially proclaiming Queensland to be a separate colony from New South Wales.
The Letters Patent - the legal instrument for the separation of the new colony - and the Proclamation, were published in the Queensland Government Gazette on the same day. The Letters Patent and the Order in Council of 6 June 1859, and the Proclamation on 10 December 1859, constitute Queensland’s founding documents.
The document in this series is the original Proclamation that was publicly read at Government House in Adelaide Street. The Proclamation consists of one page (43cm x 27 cm), handwritten in black ink on both sides and signed by Governor Bowen and by R G W Herbert.
Transcript of The Proclamation of Queensland Document:
By His Excellency Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Knight, Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Captain-General and Governor-in-chief of the Colony of Queensland and its Dependencies, and Vice-Admiral of the Same:
Etc. etc. etc.
Whereas Her Majesty has been graciously pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, bearing date at Westminster, the Sixth day of June, in the twenty-second year of Her Majesty’s Reign, to separate from the Colony of New South Wales, the Territory described in the said Letters Patent, and to erect the same into a separate Colony to be called the Colony of Queensland, and has further been pleased to constitute and appoint me, Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Knight, Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, to be Captain-General and Governor-in-chief in an over the said Colony of Queensland and its Dependencies. Now therefore, I, the Captain-General and Governor-in-chief aforesaid, do hereby proclaim and declare that I have this day taken the prescribed Oaths before His Honour Alfred James Peter Lutwyche, Esquire, Judge of the Supreme Court, and that I have accordingly assumed the said Office of Captain-General and Governor-in-chief.
Given under my hand and seal at Government House, Brisbane, this tenth day of December I the Year of Our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and fifty nine, and in the twenty-third year of Her Majesty’s Reign. (Signed) G. F. Bowen
By His Excellency’s Command
(Signed) R. G. W. Herbert
God Save the Queen!”