Diamantina Bowen (1833 – 1893) governor’s wife
Lady Bowen was ably fulfilled the ceremonial role of governor’s wife. In 1864, with a silver spade and a cedar wheelbarrow, she turned the sod for Queensland’s first railway-line, at Ipswich. An exemplary hostess at Government House and a tireless worker for charity. Diamantina worshipped in the Greek Orthodox church during retirement in London, suggesting she maintained her connection to her religious roots throughout her life, despite so many years spent in British colonies.
On 28 April 1856 at the Palace of St Michael and St George on Corfu, Diamantina married Sir George Ferguson Bowen, who was political secretary of the British Protectorate.
Diamantina was described as “pretty” but tempered perhaps by the remark “her beauty being in her expression rather than her features”. She was described as “slender but graceful”. She could play the piano and sing well, even with previously unseen pieces of music. Living most of her life in English-speaking countries, Diamantina spoke English well but with a slight accent. Although she spoke in English in public, it was claimed she spoke with her husband at home in Italian. Diamantina was frequently described as “softly spoken”. Her husband’s career took the family all over the world, as governor postings were typically for five years. We do not know how Diamantina felt about this frequent upheaval, but she cried copiously as the family departed from Brisbane, suggesting that she had had many close personal connections while there.
Eventually the couple retired to London, England in 1883 accompanied by their two unmarried daughters.
Diamantina worshipped in the Greek Orthodox church during retirement in London, suggesting she maintained her connection to her religious roots throughout her life, despite so many years spent in British colonies.
Diamantina was very popular in Queensland and many places were named after her:
- The town of Roma, Queensland
- Roma Street, Brisbane
- Diamantina River, Queensland
- Diamantina Shire Council, a Local Government Area in Queensland
- Diamantina Island near Gladstone, Queensland
- (plus more)
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An exemplary hostess at Government House and a tireless worker for charity, she gave birth to three children while in Brisbane and helped to found the Lady Bowen Lying-In Hospital in 1866. In January 1868 she and Sir George proceeded to New Zealand on his appointment as governor-general. Here their last child was born. They returned to Australia in March 1873 when Bowen was sworn in as governor of Victoria.
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