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William Humble Ward GCB GCMG GCVO TD PC

John Campbell Longstaff (1816-1914), William Humble Ward (detail), Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection. View full image

2nd Earl of Dudley
Governor-General, 9 September 1908 to 31 July 1911

On disembarking in Sydney, Australia’s fourth Governor-General, the Earl of Dudley (1867-1932), stumbled, quipping ‘a bad beginning if I fell on landing’.1 His words were prophetic. From that moment, Dudley was out of step with popular sentiment, and his relations with his governments strained.2 Alfred Deakin’s judgement was trenchant: ‘[h]e remained to the last a very ineffective and not very popular figurehead’.3

London-born and Eton-educated, Dudley married Rachel Gurney in 1891.4 Entering public life, he became parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade in the Salisbury Government (1896-1902).5 The transition to the Balfour Government saw him appointed a Privy Counsellor and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, where he remained until 1905.6 His administration there was controversial due to his support for devolving limited responsibility for domestic affairs to an Irish Council.7 From 1906 to 1908 he chaired the Royal Commission on Congestion in Ireland.

Dudley, who had previously visited Australia as part of a world tour, was sworn in as Governor-General in September 1908. At first, press and public alike were charmed by his ‘youth, capacity, character and ambitions’.8 However, his term was beset with political and private difficulties. The endemic political instability following Federation saw the fall of both the Deakin (November 1908) and Fisher (June 1909) governments. Dudley’s own role in the latter’s political demise was significant, as he refused Fisher’s request to dissolve the House and call a general election, on the advice of Chief Justice Griffith. When Fisher was returned in the 1910 election, relations were strained, and made worse by the Governor-General’s extravagance. Compounding this, the breakdown of the vice-regal couple’s relationship became public. In March 1911, it was announced that Dudley would return to England for personal reasons.

His departure in July that year was unmarked by any official ceremony.9 Dudley never again held public office. During World War I he commanded the Worcestershire Hussars – with which he had served during the Boer War – in Egypt and Gallipoli. Dudley separated from his wife in 1912 and after her death in 1920 married the actress Gertrude Millar.10 He died in June 1932.

Sir John Campbell Longstaff 
Born in Clunes, Victoria, John Longstaff (1861-1941) was an Australian portraitist, war artist and five-time winner of the Archibald Prize (1925-35). Longstaff studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School alongside Emanuel Phillips Fox, Tudor St George Tucker, Tom Humphrey, John Mather and Frederick McCubbin. Awarded the School’s first travelling scholarship in 1887, he travelled to Europe, settling in Paris and later in Spain. Throughout the early 1890s Longstaff exhibited successfully and in 1893 moved to London where he worked as a fashionable portrait painter, regularly exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. During 1918-20 Longstaff was an official war artist with the AIF. Returning to Australia in 1920, he later held several official positions including president of the Victorian Artists’ Society, the Australian Art Association, the Australian Academy of Art, and a trustee of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery in Victoria. In 1928 Longstaff became the first Australian artist to be knighted. His work is represented in major state and regional galleries across Australia.11

William Humble Ward
by John Campbell Longstaff
Oil on canvas
228.2 x 135.7 cm
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

1. ‘New Governor-General’, The Evening Mail, 8 September 1908, p. 1, accessed 12 October 2021.
2. Information in this biography has been taken from: C Cunneen, ‘Dudley, second Earl of (1867–1932)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1981; C Cunneen, ‘Ward, William Humble, second earl of Dudley (1867–1932)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; A Pole, ‘Ward, William Humble’,Dictionary of Irish Biography, 2009; C Cunneen, King’s Men: Australia’s Governors-General from Hopetoun to Isaacs, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1983; B Carroll, Australia’s Governors-General: From Hopetoun to Jeffery, Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd, Kenthurst, NSW, 2004. Websites accessed 10 May 2021.
3. Alfred Deakin papers, MS 1540/19/275, National Library of Australia, in Cunneen, King’s Men, p. 88.
4. M Groppo, ‘Ward [née Gurney], Rachel Anne, Countess of Dudley’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
5. ‘History of the UK Government: Past Prime Ministers: Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury’, Gov.uk, accessed 10 May 2021.
6. ‘History of the UK Government: Past Prime Ministers: Arthur Balfour’, Gov.uk, accessed 10 May 2021.
7. FSL Lyons, ‘The Irish unionist party and the devolution crisis of 1904–05’, Irish Historical Studies, vol. 6, no. 21, March 1948, pp. 1–22; ‘Lord Dudley Among Home Rulers’, The Catholic Press, 10 September 1908, p. 20, accessed 11 May 2021.
8. Ibid.
9. ‘Vice-Regal news’, Evening News, 12 August 1911, p. 14, accessed 12 October 2021.
10. K Gänzl, ‘Millar, Gertrude [Gertie] [married names Gertrude Monckton; Gertrude Ward, Countess of Dudley]’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 2 November 2021.
11. Information in this biography has been taken from: L Astbury, ‘Longstaff, Sir John Campbell (1861–1941)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1986; K Robertson, ‘Sir John Longstaff’, Design & Art Australia Online, 2011; ‘Longstaff, (Sir) John Campbell’, A McCulloch, S McCulloch and E McCulloch Childs, eds, The New McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Aus Art Editions in association with The Miegunyah Press, 2006, p. 625. Websites accessed 25 March 2021.

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