Spouse of the Governor-General of Australia

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The spouse of the Governor-General of Australia generally assists the office-holder in welcoming ambassadors and their spouses, and in performing their other official duties. The Governor-General's spouse traditionally participates in celebratory occasions, attends functions and, as a patron of various voluntary associations, works to promote the activities of those associations.[1] None of the activities have any official status. The current spouse (since 28 March 2014) is Lynne Cosgrove, wife of Peter Cosgrove.

Both the Governor-General and their spouse are entitled to the style "His/Her Excellency" during the Governor-General's term of office, but not thereafter. The Governor-General is entitled to the style "The Honourable" for life; this does not extend to the spouse.

Except for Quentin Bryce, all Australian Governors-General have been male, and all spouses but her husband Michael Bryce have been female.

No Governor-General has been single throughout their term, but two spouses died during the Governor-General's term: Jacqueline Sidney, Lady De L'Isle, wife of William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle (1962); and Alison, Lady Kerr, wife of John Kerr (1974). Kerr remarried during his term; De L'Isle remarried after his term had finished.

The longest-serving spouse has been Zara Hore-Ruthven, Countess of Gowrie, wife of the longest-serving Governor-General, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, who served nine years 1936-1945. The shortest-serving spouse was Alison Morrison, Viscountess Dunrossil, wife of William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil, who died in 1961, one year and one day after taking up the office, being the only Governor-General to die in office; Lady Dunrossil died in 1983.

Most of the spouses of Governors-General have been content to be background figures providing the office-holder with support. Some have been all but unknown to the general Australian public. However, some have been notable in their own right, and details are shown in the following table.

List of spouses of the Governor-General of Australia[edit]

Governor-General Term start Term end Spouse Born Died Notes
John Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun (later 1st Marquess of Linlithgow)[2] 1 January 1901 9 January 1903 Hersey Hope, Countess of Hopetoun 31 March 1867 3 April 1937 Hope was the daughter of Dayrolles Eveleigh-de-Moleyns, 4th Baron Ventry. She became the Marchioness of Linlithgow on 27 October 1902,[3] after the Hopetouns had left Australia (17 July) but while her husband was still formally the Governor-General.[4]
Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson 9 January 1903 21 January 1904 Audrey, Lady Tennyson 19 August 1854 [5] 7 December 1916 After Lady Tennyson's death in 1916, Lord Tennyson married again in 1918. Her diaries "Audrey Tennyson's Vice-Regal Days" were edited by Alexandra Hasluck, the spouse of a later Governor-General, Paul Hasluck.
Henry Northcote, 1st Baron Northcote 21 January 1904 9 September 1908 Alice, Lady Northcote  ? 1 June 1934 Lady Northcote was the adopted daughter of George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen. She was the first Patron of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.[6] She was created a Companion of the Order of the Crown of India in 1878, and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919.
William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley 9 September 1908 31 July 1911 Rachel Ward, Countess of Dudley CBE 8 August 1868 26 June 1920 Lady Dudley was instrumental in setting up the state-based Bush Nursing Scheme.[7] She drowned while swimming off the coast of Ireland, aged 51, in 1920. In 1924, Lord Dudley remarried, to Gertie Millar, a well-known actress and the widow of Lionel Monckton.
Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman 31 July 1911 18 May 1914 Gertrude, Lady Denman 7 November 1884 2 June 1954 Lady Denman was active in women's rights issues including the promotion of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. She named the city of Canberra and is commemorated in Lady Denman Drive in the national capital. In 1951, she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).
Ronald Munro Ferguson 18 May 1914 6 October 1920 Helen, Lady Munro Ferguson 1865 9 April 1941 Lady Munro Ferguson was the daughter of the Viceroy of India, Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. She later became Viscountess Novar. She was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1918 for her wartime work for the British Red Cross.
Henry Forster, 1st Baron Forster 6 October 1920 8 October 1925 Rachel, Lady Forster 1870 12 April 1962 Lady Forster was the daughter of Henry Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 1st Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. The Rachel Forster Hospital for Women in Sydney was named after her.[8] She was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1926.
John Baird, 1st Baron Stonehaven 8 October 1925 21 January 1931 Sydney Baird, Lady Stonehaven 20 September 1874 21 September 1974 Lady Stonehaven was the daughter of Arthur Keith-Falconer, 10th Earl of Kintore. Following their departure from Australia, she became Viscountess Stonehaven. She acceded to the earldom of Kintore in her own right as the 11th Countess of Kintore in 1966. She died on the day after her 100th birthday, and at her death she was the oldest member of the House of Lords.
Isaac Isaacs 21 January 1931 23 January 1936 Daisy, Lady Isaacs 1870[9] June 1960[10] Lady Isaacs had always been based in Melbourne, but relocated to Bowral, New South Wales after her husband's death.[9]
Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Baron Gowrie 23 January 1936 30 January 1945 Zara Hore-Ruthven, Lady Gowrie 20 January 1879 19 July 1965 Lady Gowrie was involved in the provision of child care, and the Lady Gowrie Child Centres were named in her honour. She later became Countess of Gowrie. From the 1930s she was instrumental in advancing the career of the opera singer Joan Hammond, whose final public performance was at Lady Gowrie's funeral.
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester 30 January 1945 11 March 1947 Alice, Duchess of Gloucester 25 December 1901 29 October 2004 The Duchess of Gloucester was an aunt of Elizabeth II. After her husband's death in 1974, she became known as Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. She lived to age 102 and holds the record, previously held by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, as the longest-lived person in the history of the British Royal Family.
William McKell 11 March 1947 8 May 1953 Mary, Lady McKell 1893[11] July 1985[12] McKell was the eponym of the Lady McKell, a Sydney Harbour ferry which operated 1970-1993,[13] and is now the Victoria Star, a luxury cruise ship operating in Melbourne.[14]
William Slim 8 May 1953 2 February 1960 Aileen, Lady Slim 1901 1993 [15] Lady Slim later became Viscountess Slim.
William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil 2 February 1960 3 February 1961 (died) Allison Morrison, Lady Dunrossil[16]  ? 26 March 1983 Lady Dunrossil was born Catherine Allison Swan.[17] Lord Dunrossil was the only Governor-General to die in office. Lady Dunrossil consequently became the shortest-serving spouse of a Governor-General.
William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle 3 August 1961 7 May 1965 Jacqueline Sidney, Lady De L'Isle 20 October 1914 15 November 1962 Lady De L'Isle was the daughter of John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort. She was a Senior Commander in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in World War II. She died in 1962, during her husband's term as Governor-General. In 1966 he married Margaret Shoubridge.
Richard, Lord Casey 7 May 1965 30 April 1969 Maie, Lady Casey AC 13 March 1892 20 January 1983 Lady Casey was an aviator, writer, artist and opera librettist.
Paul Hasluck 30 April 1969 11 July 1974 Alexandra, Lady Hasluck AD 26 August 1908 18 June 1993 Lady Hasluck was a noted author, and editor of the diaries of one of her predecessors, Lady Tennyson. In 1978 she became the first Dame of the Order of Australia, and was known as Dame Alexandra Hasluck thereafter.
John Kerr 11 July 1974 8 December 1977 1. Alison, Lady Kerr 29 July 1915 [18] 9 September 1974 The first Lady Kerr died less than two months after Kerr's appointment as Governor-General. Four months later he married Anne Robson, who was the first Australian to be appointed a Member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters.
2. Anne, Lady Kerr 1914 16 September 1997
Zelman Cowen 8 December 1977 29 July 1982 Anna, Lady Cowen AM[19] 24 July 1925[10] living Lady Cowen was the cousin of politician Walter Jona
Ninian Stephen 29 July 1982 16 February 1989 Valerie, Lady Stephen  ? living
Bill Hayden 16 February 1989 16 February 1996 Dallas Hayden 1935 [20] living née Broadfoot
William Deane 16 February 1996 29 June 2001 Helen, Lady Deane[21][22] 13 February 1935 [21] living She was educated at Kincoppal Convent in Sydney and Sydney University where she graduated in law. After graduation, she practised as a solicitor with the Sydney firm of Freehill, Hollingdale & Page.
Peter Hollingworth 29 June 2001 28 May 2003 Ann Hollingworth[23] 19 May 1936 [24] living Ann Hollingworth worked as an obstetric physiotherapist, specialising in turn in geriatrics, women's health and orthopaedics, finally working at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital. She retired from practice in 1998.
Michael Jeffery 11 August 2003 5 September 2008 Marlena Jeffery 1944 [25] living During her husband's numerous postings around Australia, to England and Papua New Guinea, Marlena Jeffery successfully lobbied for better housing and conditions for army families and established pre-school centres at Holsworthy and Enoggera Barracks. She was made a 'Citizen of Western Australia' for her work with charities during the years 1993-2000 when her husband was Governor of Western Australia. She was also appointed a Dame of Grace (DStJ) in the Order of St John.
Quentin Bryce 5 September 2008 28 March 2014 Michael Bryce AM AE  ? living Bryce is a renowned graphic designer, whose work includes the stylised "Opera House" logo for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He is an Adjunct Professor of Design at three important tertiary institutions.
Peter Cosgrove 28 March 2014 Lynne, Lady Cosgrove  ? living

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References[edit]