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Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand, 1861

William-Wolfe Alais

engraving (frame: 49.0 cm x 41.0 cm, image: 21.2 cm x 16.7 cm)

Sir George Grey (1812-1898), originally an explorer of the West Australian coast, became Governor of the near- bankrupt colony of South Australia in 1840. Although he was popularly resented for his drastic economic measures, over five years he nearly balanced the colony's budget and he did introduce some valuable reforms. Grey's wilfulness and refusal to work in consultation with his colleagues marred his subsequent terms as Governor in New Zealand (from 1845 to 1853) and then South Africa (from 1854 to 1861), where his volatile idiosyncrasies alienated not only the indigenous inhabitants, but the War Office, the Treasury and the Colonial Office. He returned as Governor of New Zealand in late 1861, but after a number of hasty and high-handed decisions he was dismissed for defiance of orders in 1868. Grey's marriage, too, was a prolonged disaster. His biographers have generally concluded that he was a man of great ability, but very poor judgement.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Ross A Field 2008

Accession number: 2008.16

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William-Wolfe Alais

Sir George Grey (age 49 in 1861)

Related portraits

1. Sir George Grey, c. 1845. All Theresa Walker.
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