Latrobe, Charles Joseph (DNB00)

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LATROBE, CHARLES JOSEPH (1801–1875), Australian governor and traveller, born in London on 20 March 1801, was son of Christian Ignatius Latrobe [q. v.]. He received the usual Moravian education, with a view to entering the Moravian ministry, to which his father belonged, but abandoned this design in order to travel. He began by wandering in Switzerland, 1824–6, where he proved himself a worthy pioneer of the Alpine Club, and, unaccompanied by guide or porters, ascended mountains and passes hitherto unexplored by Englishmen. In 1830 he made a long walking tour in the Tyrol, and in 1832 went to America with his friend Count Albert Pourtales, and, after visiting the chief cities in the States, sailed down the Mississippi to New Orleans, whence in 1834 he struck across the prairies, in company with Washington Irving, into Mexico. In 1837 he was commissioned by government to report on the working of the funds voted for the education of the West Indian negroes, and made a tour of the islands; and in 1839 he was appointed (30 Sept.) superintendent of the Port Phillip district of New South Wales, a post which was converted (27 Jan. 1851) into the lieutenant-governorship of Victoria, on the separation of that district from the parent colony. This was the time of the gold fever, when the population of Victoria rose in six months from fifteen thousand to eighty thousand, and the governor's position was no sinecure. Latrobe's upright and honest character, however, made him generally popular. He retired on 5 May 1854, was made C.B. 30 Nov. 1858, and died in London on 2 Dec. 1875. He was buried at the Sussex village of Littlington, near Eastbourne, where he spent the last years of his life. He was twice married, and left a son and four daughters.

Latrobe published many pleasantly written descriptions of his travels. His books are entitled: 1. 'The Alpenstock, or Sketches of Swiss Scenery and Manners,' 1825–6, London, 1829. 2. 'The Pedestrian: a Summer's Ramble in the Tyrol,' London, 1832. 3. 'The Rambler in North America,' 1832–3, 2 vols., London, 1835; reprinted at New York. 4. 'The Rambler in Mexico in 1834,' London, 1836. These last two are in the form of letters. 5. 'The Solace of Song,' poems suggested by travels in Italy, London, 1837. He also translated Hallbeck's 'Narrative of a Visit ... to the New Missionary Settlement of the United Brethren.'

[Heaton's Australian Dictionary of Dates; Athenæum, No. 2512, 18 Dec. 1875; Gent. Mag. 1859, i. 86; private information.]

S. L. P.