Stevenson, George (1799-1856) (DNB00)
|←Stevenson, David||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 54
Stevenson, George (1799-1856)
|Stevenson, George John→|
STEVENSON, GEORGE (1799–1856), ‘father of the South Australian press,’ born at Berwick-on-Tweed on 13 April 1799, was son of a country gentleman who died when the boy was twelve years old. Destined for the merchant service, he was sent to sea with his uncle, the captain of an East Indiaman, but soon threw up his berth, and began to study medicine in Scotland. About 1820 he emigrated to Canada, and for some years lived as a backwoodsman; he travelled through Central America and the West Indies, finally returning to London in 1830. There he commenced literary work, and obtained employment on the ‘Globe’ newspaper, of which he became editor in 1835.
Stevenson was greatly interested in the Wakefield scheme for the colonisation of South Australia, and was induced in 1836 to resign his editorship in order to emigrate to South Australia as private secretary to John Hindmarsh [q. v.], the first governor. He was present at the proclamation of the new colony on 28 Dec. 1836. He was first clerk of the legislative council, and one of the first coroners and magistrates in the colony.
Before leaving England Stevenson had arranged with one Thomas Robinson for the issue of the first colonial newspaper, to be called the ‘South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register.’ In 1838, resigning his office under the crown, he devoted himself to the paper, which then became the ‘South Australian Register.’ But in 1840 he lost the government contract for printing, and in 1842, in consequence partly of the general financial crisis in the colony, partly of the actions brought against the paper by Sir George Stephens, he relinquished his work, and gave himself to the study of viticulture. In 1845 the discovery of the Burra Burra mines made a new demand for journalism, and he started his paper again as the ‘South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal.’ In 1851 he went to the diggings in Victoria, with the view of running a mining journal; but his success was not great, and in 1853 he returned to Adelaide, and for a short time acted on the staff of the ‘Adelaide Times.’ After this he only occasionally contributed articles to the press, and those chiefly non-political.
As a horticulturist Stevenson seems to have been most in his element. His vineyard was one of the first in South Australia, and the colony owes him much for the practical impetus given to its vineyards by his personal example in planting, writing, and lecturing. On agricultural experiment generally he spent large sums of money.
Stevenson was coroner of Adelaide and a J.P. at the time of his death, which took place on 19 Oct. 1856 at his residence in North Adelaide. He married, in 1836, Margaret, daughter of John Gorton (of the ‘Globe’), who, with three children, survived him.
Stevenson aided Sir William Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer (Lord Dalling) [q. v.] in his ‘France, Social, Literary, Political’ (1834, 12mo, 2 vols.).[Logan's Representative Men of South Australia, Adelaide, 1883; Adelaide Times, 20 Oct. 1856.]