GOUGER, Robert (1802-1846)

GOUGER, Robert (1802-1846)
one of the founders of South Australia
was born on 26 June 1802 and educated at a school in Nottingham. His father, Robert Gouger, was a prosperous city merchant and on leaving school the boy entered his office. He became friendly with Robert Owen and, influenced by him, began taking an interest in social questions. In 1829 he became associated with Edward Gibbon Wakefield (q.v.) and assisted him in advocating his colonization schemes. In this year Wakefield published A Letter from Sydney which appeared as edited by Robert Gouger. In the same year Gouger forwarded Wakefield's pamphlet, a Sketch of a Proposal for Colonizing Australia, to the colonial office, but received no encouragement. Later on he was associated with another book published in 1831, The State of New South Wales in December 1830; in a Letter (addressed to R . Gouger; with remarks by him). In 1830 Gouger went to Spain to fight for the constitutional cause and saw active service. In the years between 1830 and 1834 various colonization schemes were brought forward and Gouger was active in their promulgation. Some of these schemes were intended to be money-making, but the South Australian Association, founded in December 1833 with Gouger as honorary secretary, was principally philanthropic in its objects. Gouger worked untiringly with Wakefield, many obstacles had to be surmounted and many compromises made, but in August 1834 the act for the establishment of South Australia became law. In May 1835 Gouger applied for the position of colonial secretary for South Australia. He disagreed strongly with Wakefield about the price to be asked for land in the new colony and they became estranged in June 1835. Gouger was given the appointment of colonial secretary at a salary of £400 a year and sailed in the Africaine on 30 June 1836. He bad been married to Harriet Jackson on the previous 22 OCtober. They landed in South Australia on 10 November. On 28 December, as senior member of the council, Gouger administered the oaths of office to the newly arrived governor Sir John Hindmarsh (q.v.).
Gouger had a troubled time in South Australia, and to the many discomforts of a new settlement was added anxiety for his wife's health. She died on 14 March 1837 and his infant son died two days later. The quarrels between the governor and Colonel William Light (q.v.) caused much dissension and created many difficulties for Gouger, who was eventually suspended on a charge of having struck Gilles the colonial treasurer. He felt this very deeply and the sympathy of his many friends could not atone for what he considered to be a great injustice. On 8 November 1837 he left for England to lay his case before the government. On his arrival in July 1838 he found that he had been re-instated and Governor Hindmarsh recalled. He had busied himself on the voyage in preparing South Australia in 1837 in a Series of Letters. This was published soon after his arrival, and a second edition was called for in the same year. At the end of the year he was gratified to receive a present of a piece of plate from the leading colonists of South Australia as a tribute to his exertions in founding the colony. In February 1839 he started on his return journey and reached Adelaide in June. He found that the new governor, Colonel Gawler (q.v.), was beset with difficulties in which Gouger shared. He eventually felt that the strain was too great and asked that he might resign his position and take up the less exacting one of colonial treasurer. He continued in this position until 1844 when he resigned on account of his health and returned to England. He died there in August 1846. About the end of 1838 he had married Sarah Whitten. Their daughter, Adelaide Gouger, preserved his journals and papers, which formed the basis of Hodder's The Founding of South Australia.
Gouger has an honoured place among the founders of South Australia. Wakefield was the controlling mind, but Gouger was his able and hard-working representative at a time when it was impossible for Wakefield to take any prominent part in affairs. When they finally disagreed Gouger held firmly to his own views, and later on showed himself to be an efficient public servant during the difficult times attending the birth of the colony.
Ed. E. Hodder, The Founding of South Australia, based on Gouger's papers and journals; R. C. Mills, The Colonization of Australia (1829-1842); A. Grenfell Price, The Foundation and Settlement of South Australia.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Robert Gouger — (26 June 1802 – 4 August 1846) was one of the founders of South Australia and colonial secretary.Early lifeGouger (pronEng|ˈgʊdʒɚ) was the fifth son of nine children of George Gouger (1763 1802), who was a prosperous city merchant, and his wife… …   Wikipedia

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