Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe

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The Viscount Bledisloe

Viscount Bledisloe.jpg
4th Governor-General of New Zealand
In office
19 March 1930 – 15 March 1935
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded bySir Charles Fergusson, Bt
Succeeded byThe Viscount Galway
Member of Parliament
for Wilton
In office
15 January 1910 – 15 October 1918
Preceded byLevi Lapper Morse
Succeeded byHugh Morrison
Personal details
Born(1867-09-21)21 September 1867
London, England
Died3 July 1958(1958-07-03) (aged 90)
Lydney, Gloucestershire, England
Political partyConservative

Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe, GCMG, KBE, PC (21 September 1867 – 3 July 1958) was a British Conservative politician and colonial governor. He was Governor-General of New Zealand from 1930 to 1935.

Early life[edit]

Bathurst was born in London, the second son of Charles Bathurst, of Lydney Park and Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Thomas Hay by Georgette Arnaud. He was educated at Sherborne School, Eton College and then University College, University of Oxford, where he graduated with a law degree in 1890. He then studied law and was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1892, when he gained a Master of Arts from Oxford. He was also called to the bar.[1] He inherited Lydney Park on the death of his elder brother.

Member of Parliament and the First World War[edit]

Bathurst worked as a barrister and conveyancer. In 1910 he entered parliament representing the Conservative Party as MP for the South or Wilton division of Wiltshire. He served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food.

During the First World War of 1914–1918 Bathurst joined the Royal Engineers Special Reserves, and then served in Southern Command as Assistant Military Secretary at the War Office.[citation needed] He carried out the task of ensuring the country had a supply of sugar when asked to chair the Royal Commission on Sugar Supply until 1919. Bathurst was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1917, and raised to the peerage as Baron Bledisloe of Lydney in the County of Gloucester on 15 October 1918. He remained in parliament until 1928, serving as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from 1924 onwards. The following year Bristol University granted him an honorary Doctorate of Science. He served as a member of the Privy Council from 1926. Stanley Baldwin appointed Lord Bledisloe to chair the Royal Commission on Land Drainage – probably owing to his own experiences on the banks of the Severn in Gloucestershire. This was his last such honour before being posted overseas.

Governor-General of New Zealand[edit]

After leaving parliament, Lord Bledisloe was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George and invested a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem on appointment as the fourth Governor-General of New Zealand, an office he held from 1930 until 1935, proving to be extremely well liked and respected. His social conscience was much appreciated during the Depression era, as was his insistence that his salary should be cut as were the salaries of public servants at the time. Bledisloe also contributed to improved PākehāMāori relations, purchasing the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and presenting it to the nation as a memorial. In 1934, the site was dedicated as a national reserve. The dedication ceremony attracted thousands of people, both Māori and Pākehā. Bledisloe continued to take an interest in the site even after his term expired and he returned to England. Bledisloe also contributed to the recognition of the Māori King Movement by developing a friendship with King Koroki and Te Puea Herangi, and his willingness to use the title "king" without reticence.[1]

Bledisloe also promoted various causes and events by the presentation of trophies. The most famous of these being the Bledisloe Cup, the trophy for an ongoing rugby union competition between New Zealand and Australia, first awarded in 1932, and currently contested annually.[1] He also initiated New Zealand Chess Federation interclub championship trophy, also called the Bledisloe Cup.

Bledisloe was a freemason. During his term as governor-general, he was also Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand.[2]

Later life[edit]

In 1935, Bledisloe was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal,[3] and honorary doctorate of civil laws (DCL) from Oxford, and honorary doctorate of Law (LLD) from Edinburgh. Upon returning to England he was also elevated on 24 June 1935 to Viscount Bledisloe, of Lydney in the County of Gloucester.[1] He continued to serve on a number of committees and councils, and was made a fellow of University College, Oxford and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Bristol. He received the King's Coronation Medal from George VI in 1937; being admitted at the same time as Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Bledisloe was a director of Lloyds Bank and the Australian Mutual Provident Society; and latterly also of the P & O Steamship Company.

Lord Bledisloe chaired the Bledisloe Commission, also known as the Rhodesia-Nyasaland Royal Commission, a Royal Commission appointed in 1937–39 to examine the possible closer union of the three British territories in Central Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. These territories were to some degree economically inter-dependent, and it was suggested that an association would promote their rapid development. (The three territories would ultimately unite as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953.)

In 1943, he created the Empire Knowledge Trophies, which was a school competition to promote the British Empire to grammar and secondary technical schools.[4] The competition was organized by the Gloucestershire Education Committee. Lord Blesdisloe himself often attended to present the prizes to the pupils.

On his 90th birthday he endowed the Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners of the Royal Agricultural Society of England to be awarded annually for the application of science or technology to some branch of British husbandry.[5]

Bledisloe died, aged 90, at Lydney on 3 July 1958, and was succeeded as Viscount Bledisloe by his eldest son, Benjamin Ludlow Bathurst.


Charles Bathurst married Hon Bertha Susan, daughter of Henry Charles Lopes, 1st Baron Ludlow by Cordelia Clark. They had issue: two boys and a girl.

  • Benjamin Ludlow, 2nd Viscount Bledisloe (1899–1979)
  • Hon Henry Charles Hiley (1904–1969)
  • Ursula Mary, married John F Parshall


Upon its formation in 1888, Bathurst was invited to become President of Lydney Rugby Football Club. He held this position for 70 years until his death and was succeeded as by his eldest son, Benjamin Ludlow Bathurst. The Bledisloe Cup and Bledisloe Park sports ground are both named for Bledisloe.


  • 1867–1910: Charles Bathurst
  • 1910–1914: Charles Bathurst, MP
  • 1914–1917: Captain Charles Bathurst, MP
  • 1917–24 October 1918: Captain Sir Charles Bathurst, KBE, MP
  • 24 October 1918 – 1926: The Right Honourable The Lord Bledisloe, KBE
  • 1926–1930: The Right Honourable The Lord Bledisloe, KBE, PC
  • 1930-1 January 1935: His Excellency The Right Honourable The Lord Bledisloe, GCMG, KBE, PC
  • 1 January – 28 June 1935: The Right Honourable The Lord Bledisloe, GCMG, KBE, PC, KStJ
  • 28 June 1935 – 1958: The Right Honourable The Viscount Bledisloe, GCMG, KBE, PC, KStJ


Coat of arms of Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe
Charles Bathurst Arms.svg
The arms of Charles Bathurst consist of:
A dexter arm in mail enbowed, holding in the hand all Proper, a club with spike Or.
Sable two bars ermine, in chief three crosses pateé Or.
On either side a bull guardant Gules, ringed, and a line therefrom reflexed over the back Or.
Tien ta foy


  1. ^ a b c d Marshall, Russell (22 June 2007). "Bledisloe, Charles Bathurst 1867 – 1958". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  2. ^ "VICE REGAL GRAND MASTERS – WHO AND WHY?". Kent Henderson Freemansonry. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post. 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  4. ^ Bledisloe trophy competition for more schools? Gloucester Journal July 31, 1956
  5. ^ "Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners". RASE. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Levi Lapper Morse
Member of Parliament for Wilton
Succeeded by
Hugh Morrison
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Fergusson
Governor-General of New Zealand
Succeeded by
The Viscount Galway
Sporting positions
New office President of Lydney Rugby Football Club
Succeeded by
Benjamin Bathurst
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Bledisloe
Succeeded by
Benjamin Bathurst
Baron Bledisloe