Humphrey Gibbs

Last updated


Sir Humphrey Gibbs

HGibbs.jpg
Governor of Southern Rhodesia
In office
28 December 1959 24 June 1969
De facto: 28 December 1959 – 17 November 1965
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir Peveril William-Powlett
Succeeded by Clifford Dupont (Officer Administering the Government)
Lord Soames
Personal details
Born(1902-11-22)22 November 1902
London, England
Died5 November 1990(1990-11-05) (aged 87)
Harare, Zimbabwe
Spouse(s) Dame Molly Gibbs, DBE
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Sir Humphrey Vicary Gibbs, GCVO KCMG OBE PC (22 November 1902 5 November 1990), was the penultimate Governor of the colony of Southern Rhodesia (1959–1969) who served through, and opposed, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965.

Contents

Early history

Gibbs was born on 22 November 1902 in England, the third son of The Hon. Herbert Gibbs, later created, in 1923, The 1st Baron Hunsdon of Hunsdon. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He moved to Southern Rhodesia in 1928, buying a farm at Nyamandhlovu, near Bulawayo. [1]

He became active in farming administration and helped found the National Farmers Union. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly at the general election of 1948 as a United Party member, representing the constituency of Wankie, serving one term before standing down in 1954. [2]

As Governor of Southern Rhodesia

In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Gibbs as Governor of Southern Rhodesia and appointed him a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1960.

The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by the Rhodesian Front government (under Prime Minister Ian Smith) in November 1965 placed Gibbs in a very difficult position. He was intensely loyal to Rhodesia, and was a close friend of Ian Smith, but he was also equally loyal to his office as the Queen's viceroy. While understanding what had made Smith's government declare the UDI, Gibbs decided that final legality rested with the Crown, not Smith and his government.

By the time Smith and Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont called on Governor Gibbs after the UDI was signed, Whitehall had directed Gibbs to use his reserve power to dismiss Smith and his entire cabinet from office. Gibbs complied with the order without hesitation. He declared that by issuing the UDI, Smith and his government had committed an act of treason.

However, Smith and his ministers simply ignored the dismissal, advising Gibbs that "in view of the new [Rhodesian] constitution…, he no longer has any executive powers in Rhodesia"—and therefore, his power to sack them no longer existed. [3] [4]

Under siege

Official Flag of Rhodesia during Gibbs's term as Governor Flag of Rhodesia (1964-1968).svg
Official Flag of Rhodesia during Gibbs's term as Governor

Several high-ranking officers of the Rhodesian military went to Governor Gibbs earlier in the day, made a statement of loyalty to him, and asked Gibbs to issue a warrant so that they could arrest Smith and Dupont. However, Gibbs knew that the bulk of the officer corps, as well as the rank and file of the Rhodesian military, were solidly behind Smith's government and that such a move would lead to a coup d'état .

Gibbs announced that despite the UDI, he had no intention of resigning his office or leaving Rhodesia, and that therefore, he would remain in Government House in Salisbury as the sole legal representative of Queen Elizabeth II. [5] With few exceptions, the international community continued to recognise him as the Queen's sole legitimate representative in the area—and thus, the only lawful authority in what London maintained was still the colony of Southern Rhodesia. [6]

In response, Smith declared that Government House was only "temporarily occupied" by Gibbs "in a personal capacity", and would be occupied by Dupont once it became available. [3] This action led to four years of harassment and petty afflictions by the Rhodesian government, resulting in making Gibbs and his wife virtually prisoners in Government House, by cutting off his telephone, electricity and water. [7]

It also took away his ceremonial guard and official cars, and sent him bills for the rent of Government House, which he refused to pay. [8] However, his supporters set up a Governor's Fund to pay for the upkeep of the building, and with the assistance of a small staff, led by Sir John Pestell, he managed to remain defiant. [9]

While Gibbs continued to occupy Government House, Dupont and his wife held official receptions at Governor's Lodge in the Salisbury suburb of Highlands. [10] This had previously been used by Gibbs when Southern Rhodesia was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. [11] During this time, Government House had been the residence of the Governor-General of the Federation. [12]

In 1967, on the second anniversary of UDI, Gibbs declared that his visitors' book would be open to all those who wished to show their loyalty to The Queen, while Dupont, in response, announced that the visitors' book at his office, on the same street, would be open to all those who wished to show their support for UDI. [13]

In June 1969, Gibbs resigned after Smith's government held and won a referendum that year making Rhodesia a republic. [8] He remained in Rhodesia and lived the rest of his life on his farm between 1970 and 1983, and latterly in Harare (as Salisbury was renamed in 1982) from 1983 until his death in 1990. He was appointed to Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) by Queen Elizabeth II.

He died in Harare on 5 November 1990. [14] [15]

Lady Gibbs

Gibbs's wife, Molly, Lady Gibbs (née Peel Nelson), was appointed as a DBE in 1969.[ citation needed ] She thus became Dame Molly Gibbs.

Related Research Articles

Rhodesia former country in Africa

Rhodesia was an unrecognised state in southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the de facto successor state to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which had been self-governing since achieving responsible government in 1923. A landlocked nation, Rhodesia was bordered by South Africa to the south, Bechuanaland to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east.

Administrator of the government Government officer

An administrator in the constitutional practice of some countries in the Commonwealth is a person who fulfils a role similar to that of a governor or a governor-general.

Rhodesias Unilateral Declaration of Independence statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia

The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) was a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia on 11 November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia, a British territory in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. The culmination of a protracted dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments regarding the terms under which the latter could become fully independent, it was the first unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776. The UK, the Commonwealth and the United Nations all deemed Rhodesia's UDI illegal, and economic sanctions, the first in the UN's history, were imposed on the breakaway colony. Amid near-complete international isolation, Rhodesia continued as an unrecognised state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal.

Roy Welensky Northern Rhodesian politician

Sir Roland "Roy" Welensky, was a Northern Rhodesian politician and the second and last Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Clifford Dupont President of Rhodesia (1905-1978)

Clifford Walter Dupont, GCLM, ID was a Rhodesian politician who served in the internationally unrecognised positions of Officer Administrating the Government and President. Born in London and qualifying as a solicitor, Dupont served during the Second World War as an officer of the British Royal Artillery in North Africa before first visiting Southern Rhodesia in 1947. He returned a year later, started a ranch and emigrated full-time during the early 1950s, by which time the country had become a territory of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

John Wrathall President of Rhodesia (1913-1978)

John James Wrathall, GCLM, ID, was a Rhodesian politician. He was the last white President of Rhodesia. He formerly worked as a chartered accountant.

Flag of Rhodesia

The flag of Rhodesia changed with political changes in the country. At independence in 1965 the recently adopted flag of Southern Rhodesia was used, until a new flag was adopted in 1968. The 1968 flag remained the flag when the republic was declared in 1970.

Edgar Whitehead Prime Minister of Rhodesia (1905-1971)

Sir Edgar Cuthbert Fremantle Whitehead,, OBE, was a Rhodesian politician. He was a longstanding member of the Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly, although his career was interrupted by other posts and by illness. In particular he had poor eyesight, and wore very thick glasses, and later suffered deafness whilst in office. As an ally of Sir Roy Welensky, he was Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia from 1958 to 1962. His government was defeated in the 1962 general election by the Rhodesian Front.

Sir John Richard Pestell KCVO was Private Secretary and Comptroller to the Governor of Rhodesia from 1965 to 1969.

Governor of Southern Rhodesia

The Governor of Southern Rhodesia was the representative of the British Monarch in the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia from 1923 to 1980. The Governor was appointed by The Crown and acted as the local head of state, receiving instructions from the British Government.

Sir John Baines Johnston was a British diplomat. He is best known for being Britain's High Commissioner to Rhodesia when that colony made its Unilateral Declaration of Independence in November 1965.

The history of Rhodesia from 1965 to 1979 covers Rhodesia's time as a state unrecognised by the international community following the predominantly white minority government's Unilateral Declaration of Independence on 11 November 1965. Headed by Prime Minister Ian Smith, the Rhodesian Front remained in government until 1 June 1979, when the country was reconstituted as Zimbabwe Rhodesia.

1969 Rhodesian constitutional referendum referendum over a new constitution for Rhodesia

A double referendum was held in Rhodesia on 20 June 1969, in which voters were asked whether they were in favour of or against a) the adoption of a republican form of government and b) the proposals for a new Constitution, as set out in a White paper and published in a Gazette Extraordinary on 21 May 1969. Both proposals were approved. The country was subsequently declared a republic on 2 March 1970.

Iain Peter Butchart, a cricketer, was born in Bulawayo on 9 May 1960. Broadcasting of television started in November. The Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) was formed in 1961 with Joshua Nkomo as leader. The Rhodesian Front won the general elections of 1962 on 14 December. Winston Field then became the Prime Minister of Rhodesia. The Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) was formed in 1963 with Robert Mugabe as Secretary. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved on 31 December 1963 as Zambia and Malawi moved towards independence. The government placed Joshua Nkomo, leader and founder of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, under restriction on 16 April 1964. Northern Rhodesia gained its independence and Southern Rhodesia became the colony of Rhodesia on 24 October.

President of Rhodesia position

The President of Rhodesia was the head of state of Rhodesia from 1970 to 1979. As Rhodesia reckoned itself as a parliamentary republic rather than a presidential republic at the time, the president's post was almost entirely ceremonial, and the real power continued to be vested in Rhodesia's Prime Minister, Ian Smith. Two individuals held the office of president, while two others served as acting Presidents. All were white people of British descent.

Political history of Zimbabwe

The political history of Zimbabwe starts with the arrival of white people to what was dubbed Southern Rhodesia in the 1890s. The country was initially run by an administrator appointed by the British South Africa Company. The prime ministerial role was first created in October 1923, when the country achieved responsible government, with Sir Charles Coghlan as its first Premier. The third Premier, George Mitchell, renamed the post Prime Minister in 1933.

Rhodesian mission in Lisbon Diplomatic mission (1965–1975)

The Rhodesian mission in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, operated from September 1965 to May 1975. It was a diplomatic mission representing Rhodesia, initially as a self-governing colony of Britain and, after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in November 1965, as an unrecognised state. Rhodesia informed Britain of its intent to open a Lisbon mission headed by an accredited representative, independent from the British Embassy in the city, in June 1965. Whitehall refused to endorse the idea but Rhodesia continued nonetheless, and later that month appointed Harry Reedman to head the mission. The British government attempted unsuccessfully to block this unilateral act—Rhodesia's first—for some months afterwards.

Flag of Southern Rhodesia

The flag of Southern Rhodesia was a blue ensign, later changed to a sky-blue ensign, with the coat of arms of Southern Rhodesia on it. The flag was in use in Southern Rhodesia from 1923 to 1953 and from 1964 to 1965. It was also used by the unrecognised Rhodesia from 1965 to 1968. The flag was initially used unofficially internally before being approved for use outside of the colony by the Colonial Office in 1937. The colour was changed to sky blue in 1964 to protest the treatment of Southern Rhodesia after its inclusion in the failed Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Hugh Beadle Rhodesian lawyer and politician

Sir Thomas Hugh William Beadle was a Rhodesian lawyer, politician and judge who served as Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia from March 1961 to November 1965, and as Chief Justice of Rhodesia from November 1965 until April 1977. He came to international prominence against the backdrop of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain in November 1965, upon which he initially stood by the British Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs as an adviser; he then provoked acrimony in British government circles by declaring Ian Smith's post-UDI administration legal in 1968.

References