Patrick Duncan (Governor-General)
|The Right Honourable
Sir Patrick Duncan
|6th Governor-General of the Union of South Africa|
5 April 1937 – 17 July 1943
|Preceded by||The Earl of Clarendon|
|Succeeded by||Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet as Officer Administering the Government|
|Minister for the Interior|
1921 – 30 June 1924
|Prime Minister||Jan Smuts|
|Preceded by||Thomas Watt|
|Succeeded by||Daniel François Malan|
|Died||17 July 1943
|Political party||United Party|
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh
Balliol College, Oxford
In 1901, during the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), he was recruited by Viscount Milner, to join a team of young administrators - known as "Milner's Kindergarten" - to govern and anglicise the British-occupied Transvaal. He was Colonial Secretary of the Transvaal from 1903 until the colony was granted self-government in 1907, playing an important part in the repatriation of ex-prisoners of war, and in the social and financial reconstruction of the former Boer state.
Duncan practised as an attorney from 1907 to 1910, and was a legal adviser to the Transvaal delegation to the 1908-1909 National Convention that drew up the constitution for the Union of South Africa.
He was a member of the Union Parliament from 1910 to 1936, first as a member of the Unionist Party, then of the South African Party and its successor the United Party. He was Minister of Education, the Interior, and Public Health in the SAP administration from 1921 to 1924, and Minister of Mines in the UP administration from 1933 to 1936.
Duncan was appointed Governor-General in 1937, the first South African appointee to hold the post. King George VI, whom he represented as head of state, knighted him and appointed him to the Privy Council.
Although widely respected and above party politics, he made himself controversial in 1939 by refusing to call a general election on the question of whether or not the Union should enter World War II. The prime minister, General Hertzog, wanted to stay neutral, but Parliament supported his deputy, General Smuts, who proposed to declare war. Hertzog resigned, Smuts became prime minister and led the country into war, and political re-alignments followed.
Sir Patrick died in office, in 1943. His ashes were interred in a monument at the new Duncan Dock in Cape Town harbour, which was named after him. The informal township of Duncan Village in East London, and the suburb of Duncanville near Vereeniging, were also named after him.
Sir Patrick married Alice Dold in 1916. They had three sons and a daughter. One son, Andrew (1920–1942), was killed on active service in Libya. Another son, Patrick (1918–1967), was a well-known anti-apartheid activist.
- Dictionary of South African Biography Volume I
- Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa Volume 4
- Friendship and union. The South African letters of Patrick Duncan and Maud Selborne, 1907-1943. Ed. and introd. by Deborah Lavin. Cape Town, Van Riebeeck Society, 2010. ISBN 9780981426419
The Earl of Clarendon
|Governor-General of South Africa
Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet