Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bowman Flag

Did you know that the first recorded use of the kangaroo, emu and shield on an Australian flag was first flown in the Hawkesbury? 

The flag was made by members of the Bowman family and flown at their farm, Archerfield, in Richmond to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar

John Bowman was a free settler from Scotland who arrived on the “Barwell” in 1798 with his wife Honor and two children. He was granted 100 acres at the Hawkesbury and encouraged his brother William to also migrate. William arrived on the “Nile” in 1801 and also settled in the Hawkesbury. 

Although the victory of Trafalgar took place in October 1805, news only reached the colony six months later and a postscript appeared in The Sydney Gazette 13 April 1806 To mark this significant milestone, Governor King recommended “a day of thanksgiving” for the inhabitants of the colony.

Bowman flag, 1806 / said to be by Mary Bowman
Courtesy of the State Library of NSW

Apparently the flag was created with silk from Honor Bowman’s wedding dress, although it is not confirmed whether Honor or her nine year old daughter Mary, did the actual sewing, although it is said to be by Mary. The design includes the rose, shamrock and thistle (floral symbols of England, Ireland and Scotland) with “unity” and Nelson’s famous motto “England expects every man will do his duty” which was used to bring together the troops at the commencement of the Battle of Trafalgar.  The actual painting of the flag is believed to have been done by a professional.  The flag was kept by descendants of the Bowman flag for almost 100 years when it was presented to the Richmond Public School by Bowman great grandchildren in 1905. In 1917 it was decided that the noteworthy artefact should in fact be held by the State Library of NSW therefore the flag was transferred. The local newspaper reported the details. The State Library has held the flag ever since. 

Close-up of the Bowman flag, 1806
Courtesy of the State Library of NSW

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! Love how she used her wedding dress. The flag is so old but still looks beautiful.