Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Denman
GCMG, KCVO, PC
Ac.denman.jpg
5th Governor-General of Australia
In office
31 July 1911 – 18 May 1914
Monarch George V
Prime Minister Andrew Fisher
Joseph Cook
Preceded by The Earl of Dudley
Succeeded by Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson
Personal details
Born (1874-11-16)16 November 1874
London, United Kingdom
Died 24 June 1954(1954-06-24) (aged 79)
Hove, Sussex
United Kingdom

Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman GCMG, KCVO, PC (16 November 1874 – 24 June 1954) was a British Liberal politician and the fifth Governor-General of Australia.

Early years[edit]

Born in London, Denman was the son of Richard Denman, a court clerk and Helen Mary McMicking.[1] Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, was his great-grandfather.

He was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, intending a military career, but in 1894 unexpectedly inherited a peerage from his great-uncle and was able to take his seat in the House of Lords on his 21st birthday the following year. He had little money until 1903, when he married Gertrude Pearson, daughter of the wealthy industrialist Weetman Pearson (later first Viscount Cowdray). Denman was then able to devote his time to public life and served in the Liberal administrations of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith as a Lord-in-Waiting (government whip in the House of Lords) from 1905 to 1907 and as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (government chief whip in the House of Lords) between 1907 and 1911. He was admitted to the Privy Council in 1907. The Colonial Secretary offered Denman the post of Governor-General of Australia to get him out of domestic politics.[2]

Governor-General[edit]

Denman, to the left of Labor Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, at the naming of Canberra in 1913.
Lord and Lady Denman, King O'Malley and Andrew Fisher at the official ceremony on Capitol Hill to mark the commencement of work on the city of Canberra, 12 March, 1913

The Denmans arrived in Sydney in July 1911. They found Andrew Fisher's Labor government firmly in control. As the most politically liberal Governor-General yet appointed, he got on well with the Labor ministers, and his modesty and generosity with his father-in-law's money made him popular with the public. In October 1912, the New South Wales Premier, James McGowen "evicted" him from Government House, Sydney. On 12 March 1913, he inaugurated the site of the future national capital and Lady Denman formally announced its name, Canberra.[2] On 12 March 2013, his great-nephew, the 6th Baron Denman and his wife attended celebrations in Canberra commemorating the centenary of the naming of the city.[3]

But Denman found that he had less real political influence than any previous Governor-General. As Australia, along with the other dominions, achieved political maturity, its Prime Minister communicated directly with his British counterpart, cutting the Colonial Secretary and the Governor-General out of the loop. The appointment of an Australian High Commissioner in London further reduced the Governor-General's diplomatic role.

In June 1913 the Labour government was unexpectedly defeated at the general elections by Joseph Cook's Liberals. But Labour retained control of the Senate and was determined to frustrate Cook's government at every turn. By early 1914 it was clear that a constitutional crisis was developing. He was in poor health—that he was allergic to Australia's national flower, the wattle, did not help—and his marriage was suffering from his wife's unhappiness at being so far from home. He felt he lacked the strength to deal with the political situation, and in May 1914 he resigned.[2]

Later years[edit]

With the outbreak of the Great War, Denman commanded a Yeomanry regiment from 1914 until 1915. He remained loyal to Asquith and the Liberals and so did not hold office again, leading a quiet life until his death in Hove, Sussex, 22 days after that of his wife.[2] He was succeeded in the barony by his son Thomas.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman of Dovedale". thepeerage.com. 6 March 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Cunneen, Chris (1981). "Denman, Thomas [Baron Denman] (1874–1954)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 30 April 2008. 
  3. ^ Canberra Times, 11 March 2013
Political offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Churchill
Lord-in-Waiting
1905–1907
Succeeded by
The Lord Herschell
Preceded by
The Earl Beauchamp
Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms
1907–1911
Succeeded by
The Lord Colebrooke
Preceded by
The Lord Ribblesdale
Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords
1907–1911
Government offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Dudley
Governor-General of Australia
1911–1914
Succeeded by
Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Aitchison-Denman
Baron Denman
1894–1954
Succeeded by
Thomas Denman