The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Bowen, Hon. Charles Christopher

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Bowen, Hon. Charles Christopher, M.L.C., was born at Milford, co. Mayo, Ireland, in 1830, being the eldest son of Charles Bowen, one of the founders of Canterbury, who was Speaker of the Provincial Council from 1855 to 1864. He was educated at Rugby and Cambridge, but left the University without taking a degree, and went out to the Canterbury Settlement in one of the first four ships, acting, until Dec. 1852, as secretary to Mr. Godley. In the Provincial Council of Canterbury Mr. Bowen was for some years Treasurer. In 1859 he visited England, where he remained till 1862; and upon his return was, in 1864, appointed Resident Magistrate at Christchurch, which office he held till 1874. From 1872 to 1874 he was Chairman of the Canterbury Board of Education. Mr. Bowen, on Dec. 16th, 1874, was called to the Legislative Council to take office under Sir Julius Vogel, but immediately afterwards resigned his seat and entered the Lower House as member for Kaiapoi. His offices were those of Minister of Justice and Commissioner of Stamps, which he held until the advent of the Grey Ministry into power on Oct 14th, 1877. During his tenure of office, he busied himself with the reform of prison management, introducing the system of "marks" into gaols. He also carried through the House in 1877 the Education Act, which established free primary schools and compulsory attendance throughout the colony. Mr. Bowen retired from Parliament in 1881, when he paid another visit to England. Mr. Bowen was called to the Upper House in 1891.