Bannerman, Sir Alexander (1788-1864)
Bannerman was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on October 7, 1788. He received a grammar school
education and attended Marischal College in Aberdeen. Bannerman made his reputation and
money running the family wine business after his father's death in 1820. In 1832, he became MP
for Aberdeen. In 1850 after marrying Margaret Gordon, of Prince Edward Island, who is best
known as the writer Thomas Carlyle's "first love" -- he was appointed lieutenant-governor of
Prince Edward Island where he instituted responsible government. In 1854 he was appointed
governor of the Bahamas, and in 1857 became governor of Newfoundland.
Bannerman's term began in the midst of heated negotiations between the colony, France, and
Britain regarding French fishing rights along the French Shore. Bannerman found the
Newfoundland government, under John Kent, unreasonable in its dealings, and corrupt. He
argued that undeserving people received relief aid, and that funds were misappropriated.
Characteristically, Bannerman tried to fix the problems. During the 1859 elections, he called for
an enquiry into election procedures at Harbour Grace and Burin after reports of disorderly
conduct took 10 days to reach him. He also held an independent inquiry into reports of undue
influence within the Assembly. The most sensational political drama ensued when Bannerman
dissolved the government during a dispute over a currency bill when premier John Kent
questioned the governor's authority. The dissolution resulted in a tense election of the opposition
party to power, and crowd violence in St. John's. Troops quieted the riots, however, and the
government resumed its work. Bannerman ended his term in 1864.
Upon returning to London, Bannerman, who was planning to return in Aberdeen, contracted a
bad cold, and, weakened, fell down a flight of stairs. He died on December 30, 1864 (Moulton
and Robertson 30).
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