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    Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe, c. 1860, by Batchelder’s, photographer., courtesy of State Library of Victoria.

La Trobe, Charles Joseph (1801 - 1875)

20 March 1801
London, United Kingdom
4 December 1875
United Kingdom
Lieutenant-Governor, Superintendent and Port Phillip District

Charles Joseph La Trobe was appointed to the position of Superintendent of the Port Phillip District in 1839, superseding Police Magistrate William Lonsdale as the officer in charge of law and order and community welfare. Although being charming, scholarly and well travelled, La Trobe had no administrative skills and so was briefed for two months by Sir George Gipps before his arrival in Port Phillip. He became Lieutenant-Governor in 1851 when Victoria became a separate colony.

His role was arduous as all major decisions had to be referred to Sydney, 600 miles and several days journey away. Following separation from New South Wales, Victorian society was dramatically transformed by the discovery of gold. La Trobe resigned in 1854 amid the furore of political unrest on the central Victorian diggings where he was deeply unpopular: the cry of his name, ‘Joe’, was one of derision amongst the miners. However, under his stewardship Victoria became the richest colony in the world, and La Trobe was subsequently awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1858.

Keir Reeves

Gross, Alan, Charles Joseph La Trobe, Superintendent of the Port Philip District 1839-1851, Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria 1851-1854, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1956. Details
Reilly, Dianne, '"Duties of No Ordinary Difficulty": Charles Joseph La Trobe and the Goldfields Administration', Victorian Historical Journal, vol. 72, no. 1 & 2, 2001. Details