Charles Christopher Bowen
The Charlotte Jane

Original information:
The Hon. Charles Christopher Bowen (1830-1917) was 20 when he migrated from Milford, County Mayo, Ireland, with his parents, Charles (1804-1871) and Georgina (40), brother Croasdaile (1831-1890), sister Letitia (10), and aunt Ann Bowen (44). Charles Bowen selected 50 acres (RS94) in what would become “Fendall town’’.

Charles Bowen held office in provincial government before retiring with his wife and daughter to Guildford, Surrey. Charles Christopher and his brother, Croasdaile (Archdeacon of Christchurch for 32 years), remained.

Charles Christopher is considered one of the most successful colonists. As a Cambridge law student, for two years he acted as private secretary to John Robert Godley, founder of Canterbury. Among his many achievements, Bowen was in charge of the police force, was president of the North Canterbury Acclimatisation Society and became, with Crosbie Ward, co-owner of The Lyttelton Times until the 1860s.
In 1859, Bowen returned to England via the Americas, walking across the Andes with explorer Clements Markham. His account of his travels earned him a fellowship of the Royal Geographic Society.

In 1861, in England, he married Georgina Elizabeth, sister of Clements Markham. There were seven children of the marriage.
From 1864-74 Bowen held a central government appointment as Resident Magistrate in Christchurch. In 1875, Bowen entered Parliament as MP for Kaiapoi and remained there until 1881. As Minister of Justice he introduced the “mark’’ system, which meant that prisoners’ good behaviour would result in a reduction of their sentences.

Bowen’s great achievement, the 1877 Education Act, provided for free, secular and compulsory education for the masses. Bowen was the Senate of the University of New Zealand from 1881-82 and 1888-1915. He was also in the Legislative Council, the Upper House of Parliament, being Speaker from 1905-1915. He was knighted in 1910 and made KCMG in 1914.

In 1900 he was living in Riccarton, and died there in 1917.

Readers' response:
Charles Bowen Sen. moved from Ireland to Bristol in 1832. He then returned to Ireland and married Georgina Lambert, and had four children.
In 1835, the family returned to Bristol to escape a cholera epidemic in Cork − two of the children had already succumbed to it. The family then moved to France.

Charles and Georgina had three more children, one boy dying aged two months. They then moved to Rugby in England, where two of the boys went to Rugby School in August 1843. Charles Christopher then went to Cambridge.1


1: Amanda Kerby, unpublished family history