The Honourable Sir Alexander Bannerman
Governor from 10 March 1851 to 11 July 1854
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Sir Alexander Bannerman was the eleventh Governor of Prince Edward Island since the creation of the Colony in 1763. Bannerman was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on 7th October 1788, the eldest son of Thomas Bannerman. 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. Bannerman was also involved in banking, whaling, an iron foundry and a cotton mill. In 1832, he became MP for Aberdeen and continued to sit as a Whig until he retired in early 1847, never having faced a serious challenger.
On 14th January 1825, in London, Bannerman married Margaret Gordon who was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Ms. Gordon was the granddaughter of Margaret Hyde and Walter Patterson, the Island's first Governor. Bannerman was knighted in February 1851 prior to his departure to Prince Edward Island where he was appointed Governor on 10th March 1851 and during his term of office 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 to Aberdeen, contracted a bad cold and, weakened, fell down a flight of stairs. He died on 30th December 1864.
Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
Photograph courtesy of PEI Public Archives and Records Office, Reference Number 2320/60-12