The death of Queensland's second Governor, Sir Samuel Blackall

The death of Queensland’s 2nd Governor, Sir Samuel Wensley Blackall, 146 years ago today, had a profound effect on the young colony of Queensland.

 Sir Samuel Blackall Is Seated Between His Aides Brisbane 1870

Image: Sir Samuel Blackall is seated between his aides, Brisbane, 1870 (courtesy of the State Library of Queensland).

Arriving in Brisbane on the 14th of August 1868, Sir Samuel Blackall was a kindly and affable former soldier who soon won over the new colony, growing more popular with each passing day.

But by 1870, Blackall’s health was failing rapidly. A pragmatic man, when the government decided to set aside a new cemetery reserve at Toowong, he inspected the area and selected the highest spot for his grave.

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Image: A portrait of Sir Samuel Blackall by convict artist Joseph Backler (courtesy of Museum of Brisbane).

Three months later, on the 2nd of January 1871, he died.

Shortly afterwards, the Courier reported: “… when he knew that death was certain within a few days, or perhaps minutes, he gave directions that his funeral should be so conducted that the poorest person might be able to follow him to the grave. He would not consent to the solicitations of his relatives that his body should be conveyed to Ireland, and buried where his forefathers lie, but insisted that his grave should be in Queensland ... When the history of Queensland is hereafter written, our children and their children will be taught to revere the name of Samuel Wensley Blackall as a model Governor who died too early in his career of usefulness.”

In the blistering heat of the Queensland summer, a sorrowing crowd marched from the funeral service at St John’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral to the burial service at Toowong Cemetery. The Courier estimated there were around 12,000 people along the line of the cortege.

A fine memorial was erected over Blackall’s grave, the first in the cemetery. His memory is also preserved by the town of Blackall in Central West Queensland and the Blackall Range in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. 

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Image: Sir Samuel Blackall's memorial at Toowong Cemetery.