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Charles Joseph La Trobe

1801 – 1875

Charles Joseph La Trobe (1801-1875), colonial administrator, travelled widely in Europe and America before beginning his colonial career in the West Indies in 1837. Two years later he was appointed superintendent of the Port Phillip District, answerable to the governor of New South Wales, George Gipps. La Trobe had some difficulty handling a disparate collection of separatist free settlers who resented control from Sydney, and was attacked in the Town Council and the Argus as the 1840s wore on. However, he gained popularity in 1849 for forwarding a cargo of convicts to Sydney in defiance of the Colonial Office. In 1850, when Victoria became a colony, La Trobe was appointed its lieutenant-governor. Gold was discovered the following year, and his new government had immediately to rise to the nightmarish administrative challenge of the gold rush. La Trobe left Victoria in 1854, having established the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and having provided key support for the foundation of several important public health and cultural institutions, including the hospital and the university.

Updated 2010