Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie
Brigadier General Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie VC, GCMG, CB, DSO & Bar, PC (/ /; 6 July 1872 – 2 May 1955) was a British soldier and colonial governor and the tenth Governor-General of Australia. Serving for 9 years and 7 days, he is the longest serving Governor-General in Australia's history. Prior to his appointment in Australia he was a British Army officer who was the recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Early life and background
Alexander Hore-Ruthven was born on 6 July 1872 in Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom, as the second son of Walter Hore-Ruthven (1838–1921), the 9th Lord Ruthven of Freeland, and Lady Caroline Annesley Gore (1848–1914), the daughter of Philip Gore, 4th Earl of Arran. After attending Winton House School in Winchester (not Winchester College as is stated in some sources) as a boarder from 1884 to 1885, Hore-Ruthven spent most of his early education at Eton College and then Haileybury and Imperial Service College, where he stayed until 1888, when he was withdrawn owing to eyesight problems and sent into business by his parents.
He first worked in a tea merchant's office in Glasgow and then travelled to India to work on a Tea Plantation in Assam. Hore-Ruthven, however, soon succumbed to malaria and he returned to England in 1892. He then joined the army and later the Militia in 1892. After training at the United Services College he was posted as an officer into the 3rd Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry.
In 1898, Hore-Ruthven joined the British Army. During the Sudan Campaign he was a captain in the 3rd Battalion of The Highland Light Infantry. He fought in the Sudan Campaign in 1898, where he was mentioned in despatches.
During the action at Gedarif, Hore-Ruthven saw an Egyptian officer lying wounded within 50 yards of the advancing Dervishes, who were firing and charging. He picked up the wounded officer and carried him towards the 16th Egyptian Battalion; he had to drop his burden several times in order to fire upon the Dervishes and check their advance, but his action undoubtedly saved the officer's life; for his bravery, he was awarded the Victoria Cross on 28 February 1899.
He fought in the Somaliland Campaign between 1903 and 1904.
In 1905, Hore-Ruthven became an aide-de-camp to Lord Dudley, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1908, Dudley was appointed Governor-General of Australia, and Hore-Ruthven went with him as military secretary. In the same year he married Zara Pollok, with whom he had two sons, one of whom died in infancy. He left Australia in 1910 and returned to military service in India. During World War I, he served in France and at Gallipoli, where he was severely wounded, awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1916) and Bar (1919), and Mentioned in Despatches five times. He was also appointed a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) on 8 March 1918. He finished the war as a brigadier-general, was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1919 and commanded British forces in Germany between 1919 and 1920. After this he held various Army staff positions until 1928, when he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG, 24 January 1928) and appointed Governor of South Australia (being sworn in on 14 May 1928).
Governor of South Australia
Hore-Ruthven arrived in Adelaide in May 1928. He took to his duties with enthusiasm, visiting many areas of the State in a de Havilland DH.60 Moth owned by his ADC, Captain Hugh Grosvenor. Together with Lady Hore-Ruthven, he was a keen supporter of the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements. She was also president of the South Australian Red Cross.
In a 1930 Anzac Day speech, Hore-Ruthven criticised the union movement for exacerbating, through strike action, the hardship suffered by returned servicemen. He was censured by the United Trades and Labour Council in response.
He was on leave in London when the third Bodyline Test cricket match in Adelaide caused Anglo-Australian political tension in 1933, and played a significant part in smoothing relations through his meetings with the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs J.H. Thomas.
During Hore-Ruthven's second term as governor, the Great Depression was causing severe hardship in South Australia. The Lionel Hill government, elected on a promise of bringing a "golden future", was heavily criticised when economic realities forced it to adopt austerity measures. Hore-Ruthven supported Premier Hill in the face of criticism from within the Labor party. His speeches frequently expressed the belief that a premier should "rise above party". Hill's firm resolve during the crisis was seen as largely the result of Hore-Ruthven's influence. His performance during the crisis was reportedly a critical factor in his subsequent selection as Governor of New South Wales.
Governor of New South Wales
His term as Governor of South Australia ended in April 1934, and he returned to England. He was almost immediately appointed Governor of New South Wales, and at the suggestion of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons was also raised to the peerage as Baron Gowrie of Canberra in the Commonwealth of Australia and of Dirleton in the County of East Lothian. He arrived in Sydney on 21 February 1935. However he had already been approached by King George V regarding appointment as Governor General while in England. He was raised to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) on 20 December 1935.
Governor-General of Australia
With his military record and experience, Gowrie was seen as an obvious choice to succeed Sir Isaac Isaacs when he retired as Governor-General in 1936. In accordance with established practice Prime Minister Joseph Lyons was offered several alternatives, but Lyons had no intention of recommending another Australian to the post. At the time, non-Labor Prime Ministers always appointed British Governors-General. In accordance with Australian constitutional practice, he was formally appointed by King George V, who died on 20 January 1936, three days before Gowrie was due to be sworn in as Governor-General. Thus he came to office during the reign of King Edward VIII.
In office, Gowrie was a popular if unobtrusive figure in Australia. The days when Governors-General exercised significant power, or even participated in negotiations between the Australian and British governments, had now passed, but Gowrie set a precedent in 1938 when he toured the Netherlands East Indies at the invitation of the colonial administration. This was the first time that a Governor-General had represented Australia abroad.
In April 1939 Lyons died suddenly and Gowrie commissioned Sir Earle Page, the leader of the Country Party, as Prime Minister until the United Australia Party could choose a new leader: this was the only circumstance in which the Governor-General still had some personal discretion.
Gowrie's political skills were tested again after the 1940 election, which left the UAP Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, dependent on the votes of two independent members to stay in power. When the UAP forced Menzies out as leader, it was so bereft of leadership that Country Party leader Arthur Fadden was named Prime Minister, even though the UAP was the senior coalition partner. However, the independents were so outraged at how Menzies had been treated that they joined Labor in voting against Fadden's budget and brought the government down. Gowrie was reluctant to call an election for a Parliament just over a year old, especially given the international situation. However, he didn't see another alternative if Labor leader John Curtin didn't have enough support to govern. He therefore summoned the two independents to Yarralumla and made them promise that if he commissioned Curtin as Prime Minister, they would support him and end the instability in government. The independents agreed, and Gowrie duly appointed Curtin.
During World War II Gowrie saw it as his duty to support the government and the British Empire, and also the troops. In 1943 he undertook a four-week tour of inspection of Allied Defence Forces in northern Australia and New Guinea. Shortly before undertaking this tour, Gowrie and his wife had learned that their son, Patrick, had been killed in Libya the previous year.
He officially opened the Australian War Memorial on 11 November 1941.
Gowrie's term ended in September 1944 after which he returned to Britain, where he was created Viscount Ruthven of Canberra, of Dirleton in the County of East Lothian, and Earl of Gowrie and appointed Deputy Constable and Lieutenant-Governor of Windsor Castle. In 1948 he was elected president of the Marylebone Cricket Club. He died in May 1955 at his home in Gloucestershire.
He was the only Governor-General of Australia to be advised by five different Prime Ministers (Lyons, Page, Menzies, Fadden and Curtin), although two (Page and Fadden) were short-term appointments.
He was a freemason. He was initiated to the craft on 15 March 1893 in the St Andrew's Military Lodge No. 668 at the age of 21. While in Sudan he became a member of the Sir Reginald Wingate Lodge No. 2954 and was appointed its Secretary. When he was appointed Governor of South Australia, Mellis Napier proposed him to become Grand Master of the state's Grand Lodge. Because he was not eligible to become Grand Master if he wasn't first a Worshipful Master, he became a member of the United Service Lodge No. 27. On 25 April 1929 he was appointed Senior Warden and on 25 April 1930, Worshipful Master. On 15 April 1930, ten days before being installed Worshipful Master, he was installed Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Australia. He was appointed Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New South Wales almost immediately after he was appointed the state's Governor and continued to serve as Grand Master when he was appointed Governor-General of Australia. Gowrie Lodge No. 651 was named in his honour and was consecrated by himself. When this Lodge was merged with the Lodge Leinster Marine No. 2, the Lodge Gowrie of Canberra No. 715 was founded and still exists.
Honours, styles and titles
|Viceregal styles of
The Lord Gowrie
|Reference style||His Excellency|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
- 1872–1898: The Honourable Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven
- 1898–1899: Second Lieutenant (Temp. Captain) The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven
- 1899–1901: Second Lieutenant The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven, VC
- 1901–1908: Lieutenant The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven, VC
- 1908–1910: Captain The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven, VC
- 1910–1916: Major The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright-Hore-Ruthven, VC
- 1916–1918: Colonel The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright-Hore-Ruthven, VC, DSO
- 1918–1919: Colonel The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright-Hore-Ruthven, VC, CMG, DSO
- 1919–1928: Brigadier General The Hon Alexander Gore Arkwright-Hore-Ruthven, VC, CB, CMG, DSO & Bar
- 1928–1935: Brigadier General The Hon Sir Alexander Gore Arkwright-Hore-Ruthven, VC, KCMG, CB, DSO & Bar
- 1935–1937: Brigadier General The Rt Hon The Lord Gowrie, VC, GCMG, CB, DSO & Bar
- 1937–1945: His Excellency Brigadier General The Rt Hon The Lord Gowrie, VC, GCMG, CB, DSO & Bar, PC
- 1945–1955: Brigadier General The Rt Hon The Earl of Gowrie, VC, GCMG, CB, DSO & Bar, PC
|Victoria Cross (VC)||1899|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)||1935|
|Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)||1928|
|Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)||1918|
|Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)||1919|
|Companion & Bar of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO & Bar)||1916, 1919|
|Knight of Grace of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem|
|Queen's Sudan Medal|
|Africa General Service Medal with two Clasps|
|1914 Star with Clasp|
|British War Medal|
|Victory Medal with MID Palm|
|War Medal 1939–1945|
|Australia Service Medal 1939–45|
|King George V Coronation Medal|
|King George V Silver Jubilee Medal|
|King George VI Coronation Medal|
|Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal|
|Order of Osmanieh, 4th Class|
|Belgian Croix de guerre|
|French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with Bronze star|
|Khedive's Sudan Medal with three Clasps|
|Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog|
- Lundy, Darryl. "Person Page 6166". thePeerage.com. Retrieved 23 July 2011.[unreliable source]
- "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". Itsanhonour.gov.au. 8 March 1918. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
- Neil Follett (7 July 2011). "Gertrude 'Mac' McKenzie: Forgotten aviation pioneer honoured". Australian Flying. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Chris Cunneen and Deirdre Morris. "Gowrie, first Earl of (1872–1955)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie.|
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie
- A guide to Lord Gowrie's Papers
Sir George Bridges
|Governor of South Australia
Sir Winston Joseph Dugan
Sir Philip Game
|Governor of New South Wales
Sir David Anderson
Sir Isaac Isaacs
|Governor-General of Australia
HRH The Duke of Gloucester
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New title||Baron Gowrie
Alexander Patrick Greysteil Ruthven
|Earl of Gowrie
Charles James Briggs
|Colonel of 1st King's Dragoon Guards