William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Dudley
KP GCB GCMG GCVO KStJ PC TD DL
Ac.dudley.jpg
4th Governor-General of Australia
In office
9 September 1908 – 31 July 1911
Monarch Edward VII
George V
Preceded by The Lord Northcote
Succeeded by The Lord Denman
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
11 August 1902 – 4 December 1905
Monarch Edward VII
Prime Minister Arthur Balfour
Preceded by The Earl Cadogan
Succeeded by The Earl of Aberdeen
Personal details
Born (1867-05-25)25 May 1867
London, United Kingdom
Died 29 June 1932(1932-06-29) (aged 65)
London, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) (1) Rachel Gurney (1868-1920)
(2) Gertie Millar (d. 1952)

William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, KP, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, KStJ, PC, TD, DL (25 May 1867 – 29 June 1932), styled Viscount Ednam before 1885, was a British Conservative politician. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland between 1902 and 1905 and the fourth Governor-General of Australia between 1908 and 1911.

Background and education[edit]

Dudley was born in London, the son of William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley, and Georgina, daughter of Sir Thomas Moncreiff, 7th Baronet. He was educated at Eton. His father died in 1885 and he inherited nearly 30,000 acres (120 km2) of mineral deposits in Staffordshire and Worcestershire, two hundred coal and iron mines, several iron works (including the Round Oak Steelworks) and a substantial fortune, as well as the Earldom. He visited Australia in 1886–87 as part of a yachting cruise. Dudley became part of the social circle of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), who attended his wedding to Rachel Gurney in 1891. From 1895 to 1896 he was Mayor of Dudley.

Military Service[edit]

Dudley became a Major in the Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars in 1885, and later joined the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry. He served in the Second Boer War, from January 1900 as a Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for the Imperial Yeomanry.[1] He was present at operations in the Oranje Free State in February to May 1900. Some of the actions he was involved with were at Poplar Grover, Driefontein, Vet River, and Zand River. From May to June 1900 he was present at operations in the Transvaal. Some of the actions he was involved with were Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Diamond Hill. Finally, in July to November 1900 he was involved with the suppression of the Irish troubles in Belfast.

By 1913, Lord Dudley, who had taken command of the Hussars in November, was convinced that there was going to be another war in Europe and formed a permanent staff of instructors to train the regiment in musketry. When war was declared in 1914, the Worcestershires formed into the 1st South Midland Mounted Brigade, under the commander of Brigadier E. A. Wiggin. The Brigade was ordered to Egypt and was based in Chatby Camp, near Alexandria, by April 1915. The brigade didn't see any action until they were ordered to prepare to fight as infantry in August. It was at this time that the men were sent to Suvla Bay, and took part in the Gallipoli campaign. The regiment were in support of the Anzacs in their attempt to break through the Turkish defenses. This attack obviously failed miserably, and they were evacuated in January 1916. Lord Dudley had already left the area in 1915, and had been posted to East Mudros as Commandant. In 1916, Lord Dudley was then attached to the headquarters staff of the 40th Infantry Division. Leaving the military in 1916, Lord Dudley retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Political career[edit]

Dudley sat on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords and served under Lord Salisbury as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade from 1895 to 1902. In 1902 he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in which post he displayed great extravagance but also some political and administrative ability. During this time he was also the Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick, as was customary for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Governor-General of Australia[edit]

As a Conservative, Dudley could not have expected preferment from the Liberal government which came to office in 1905, but King Edward VII pressed the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman to offer Dudley the post of Governor-General of Australia, and Campbell-Bannerman agreed, since there was apparently no suitable Liberal candidate available. Dudley arrived in Sydney on 9 September 1908, and soon established a reputation for pomp, ceremony and extravagance which was unwelcome to many Australians, particularly the Labor Party and the radical press such as The Bulletin. Not long after his arrival, he found himself swearing in a Labor cabinet under Andrew Fisher, so the Labor Party's disapproval of his vice-regal style became an important issue.

The new Governor-General soon found himself involved in another controversy. It was part of Labor policy to establish an independent Australian navy. The Liberal opposition, on the other hand, supported the campaign for Australia to raise money to build ships for the Royal Navy: the so-called Dreadnought campaign. So when Dudley made a speech in support of the Dreadnought campaign, he was straying into party politics, leading to a tense relationship with Fisher. In 1909 Fisher's minority government resigned, and Dudley refused him an early election. The Liberals returned to office under Alfred Deakin, solving Dudley's immediate problems. But although Fisher was careful not to criticise Dudley in public, the Governor-General had acquired a reputation as "anti-Labor," which made him unpopular with half the Australian electorate.

In April 1910 Labor won a sweeping election victory and Fisher returned to power. Relations between Governor-General and Prime Minister were soon once again frosty. Dudley's insistence on maintaining two very expensive Government Houses, in Sydney and Melbourne, on travelling around the country in vice-regal pomp, and on chartering a steam-yacht to circumnavigate the continent, infuriated Fisher, a frugal Scottish socialist. By October Dudley had recognised the impossibility of his position and asked to be recalled. He left Australia on 31 July 1911, unmarked by any official ceremony. Alfred Deakin wrote of him:

His ambition was high but his interests were short-lived … He did nothing really important, nothing thoroughly, nothing consistently … He remained … a very ineffective and not very popular figurehead.

Dudley Street in Melbourne may be named after him.

Family[edit]

Second Wife: Gertie Millar, widow of Lionel Monckton.

Lord Dudley married firstly in 1891 Rachel Anne Gurney, born in 1868, daughter of Charles Henry Gurney (born 5 November 1833) and Alice Prinsep, sister of Laura Gurney, wife of Sir Thomas Herbert Cochrane Troubridge, 4th Baronet Troubridge, and maternal granddaughters of Henry Thoby Prinsep (1793–1878) and wife (m. 1835) Sara Monckton Pattle (Calcutta, 1816-Brighton, 1887). They had four sons (William Humble Eric, Roderick John, and the twins George Reginald and Edward Frederick) and three daughters. Their youngest son was George Ward, 1st Viscount Ward of Witley. Lady Dudley drowned on 26 June 1920, aged 51. Lord Dudley married secondly the actress Gertie Millar, daughter of John Millar, on 30 April 1924. Dudley died of cancer in London on 29 June 1932 at age 65 and was succeeded by his eldest son, William. Gertie, Countess of Dudley, died in April 1952. The English actress Rachel Ward is his great-granddaughter.

Honours and awards[edit]

References[edit]

  • Chris Cunneen, 'Dudley, second Earl of (1867 - 1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, MUP, 1981, pp 347–348. Additional sources listed by the Australian Dictionary of Biography: Dictionary of National Biography, 1931–40; 'High Court of Justice: Lady Dudley's Separation Allowance', The Times (London), 7 Nov 1918, p 2; 'Death of Lady Dudley', Times (London), 28 June 1920, p 16; 'Obituary: Lord Dudley', Times (London), 30 June 1932, p 16; C. Cunneen, The Role of the Governor-General in Australia 1901-1927 (PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1973); Alfred Deakin papers, MS 1540/19/275 (National Library of Australia).

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Burt
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade
1895–1902
Succeeded by
Andrew Bonar Law
Preceded by
The Earl Cadogan
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1902–1905
Succeeded by
The Earl of Aberdeen
Government offices
Preceded by
The Lord Northcote
Governor-General of Australia
1908–1911
Succeeded by
The Lord Denman
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Ward
Earl of Dudley
1885–1932
Succeeded by
William Humble Eric Ward