Eyre, Edward John

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Eyre, Edward John

Eyre, Edward John (âr), 1815–1901, British colonial administrator. In Australia (1833–45) he was a magistrate, explorer, and writer on Australian geography, and had a reputation for sympathy for the aborigines. After terms as lieutenant governor of New Zealand (1846–53) and governor of St. Vincent (1854–60), he became (1864) governor of Jamaica. He was recalled in 1866 after suppressing a black uprising the year before in which more than four hundred Jamaicans were executed. Eyre was accused of brutality and illegal acts, especially in the execution of George Gordon, a black member of the Jamaican legislature who had contravened the martial law imposed during the emergency. He was recalled in 1866. Several attempts, promoted by John Stuart Mill, Goldwin Smith, and Herbert Spencer, to try him for murder were forestalled by a committee of admirers, which included John Ruskin, Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Carlyle, and Charles Kingsley. An English grand jury declined to indict him, and a royal commission exonerated him, while criticizing his “unnecessary rigour.” The episode contributed to the fall of the government of Lord John Russell in 1866.


See W. L. Mathieson, Sugar Colonies and Governor Eyre (1936).

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Eyre, Edward John


Born Aug. 5, 1815, in Hornsea, Yorkshire; died Nov. 30, 1901, near the city of Tavistock. British explorer of Australia.

In 1839, Eyre explored the Flinders Ranges and the valley of the Murray River, discovered Lake Torrens and Lake Eyre, and explored the Eyre Peninsula. In 1840 and 1841, he made a journey along the southern coast of Australia. The lake and peninsula named after Eyre are located in South Australia.


Journals of Expeditions of Discovery Into Central Australia, vols. 1–2. Adelaide, 1964.


Svet, Ia. M. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.