GROSE, Francis (1754-1814)


GROSE, Francis (1754-1814)
lieutenant-governor of New South Wales
was the son of Francis Grose the well-known English antiquary. At the time of his death in 1814 he was stated to have been 56 years of age (Gentleman's Magazine, July 1814, p. 85). This would have made the year of his birth either 1757 or 1758, but unless he obtained promotion at unusually early ages the year of birth usually given, 1754, appears to be more probable. He was born in England, received a commission as an ensign in 1775, and fought in America, where he was twice wounded. He attained the rank of major in 1783, in November 1789 was placed in command of the New South Wales Corps, and appointed lieutenant-governor of New South Wales. He did not leave England until late in 1791, and he arrived at Sydney on 14 February 1792. Governor Phillip (q.v.) had already asked permission to resign, and in December left the colony. The conduct of the government then fell on Grose. Phillip had realized that unless there was some control over the sale of spirits great evils would follow, but Grose made no efforts in this direction, and great abuses such as the payment of wages in spirits became common. The custom of officers trading in spirits was almost universal, and in the interregnum before the arrival of Captain Hunter (q.v.) the colony was given up to drunkenness, gambling, licentiousness and crime. How far Grose was responsible for this state of affairs it is now impossible to say. There is, however, no reason to doubt the statements of the chaplain, the Rev. Richard Johnson (q.v.), that he could get no support from the lieutenan t-governor and no assistance in building a church. On the other hand the charges against Grose of making indiscriminate grants of land to his friends and fellow officers appear to be without foundation, as the grants made were in accordance with his instructions. In spite of the low state of morality, and the drinking habits of the people, the position of the colony had improved very much when Grose left for England on 17 December 1794. But the credit for this cannot be given to him. His substitution of military for civil power was not for the good of the state, and he showed no foresight or real strength in his government. In all probability the improvement was simply the result of better farming methods, for much of which credit may be given to the two chaplains, Johnson and Marsden (q.v.). After leaving Australia Grose filled various posts in the army. In 1798 he was on the staff in Ireland, and in 1805 was at Gibraltar with promotion to the rank of major-general. He was again on the staff in Ireland in 1809. He was promoted lieutenan t-general, and died in England about June 1814.
A. Britton, History of New South Wales, vol. II; Historical Records of New South Wales, vol. II; Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols. I and II.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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