The Viscount Novar
|6th Governor-General of Australia|
18 May 1914 –6 October 1920
|Prime Minister|| Joseph Cook (1914)|
Andrew Fisher (1914–15)
Billy Hughes (1915–20)
|Preceded by||Lord Denman|
|Succeeded by||Lord Forster|
|Secretary for Scotland|
24 October 1922 –22 January 1924
|Prime Minister|| Bonar Law (1922–23)|
Stanley Baldwin (1923–24)
|Preceded by||Robert Munro|
|Succeeded by||William Adamson|
|Member of Parliament|
for Leith Burghs
21 August 1886 –1 February 1914
|Preceded by|| William Ewart Gladstone |
Never took seat
|Succeeded by||George Welsh Currie|
|Member of Parliament|
for Ross and Cromarty
11 August 1884 –19 December 1885
|Preceded by||Sir Alexander Matheson, Bt|
|Succeeded by||Roderick Macdonald|
|Born||6 March 1860|
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
|Died||30 March 1934 74) (aged|
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
Helen Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood(m. 1889)
Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar, KT , GCMG , PC (6 March 1860 – 30 March 1934) was a British politician who served as the sixth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1914 to 1920.
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
Munro Ferguson was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and initially pursued a military career. Munro Ferguson was elected to the House of Commons in 1884, defeated a year later, and re-elected in 1886. A Liberal Imperialist, he was an ally of Lord Rosebery and served as a Junior Lord of the Treasury in his government. Munro Ferguson was overlooked for ministerial office by Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith, but in 1914 was appointed Governor-General of Australia. He was politically influential, forming a close bond with Prime Minister Billy Hughes, and was committed to his role as nominal commander-in-chief during World War I. His six years in office was a record until being surpassed by another wartime governor-general, Lord Gowrie. Munro Ferguson was raised to the viscountcy once his term ended, and from 1922 to 1924 returned to politics as Secretary of State for Scotland under Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin. In retirement he held various company directorships.
Kirkcaldy is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It is about 11.6 miles (19 km) north of Edinburgh and 27.6 miles (44 km) south-southwest of Dundee. The town had a recorded population of 49,460 in 2011, making it Fife's second-largest settlement and the 12th most populous settlement in Scotland.
Fife is a council area and historic county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire. By custom it is widely held to have been one of the major Pictish kingdoms, known as Fib, and is still commonly known as the Kingdom of Fife within Scotland. Fife is one of the six local authorities part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region.
The Royal Military College (RMC), founded in 1801 and established in 1802 at Great Marlow and High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, but moved in October 1812 to Sandhurst, Berkshire, was a British Army military academy for training infantry and cavalry officers of the British and Indian Armies.
Munro Ferguson was born Ronald Craufurd Ferguson at his family home in the Raith area near Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, the son and eldest child of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Ferguson, a wealthy member of the Commons of old Scottish descent. His mother was Emma Eliza, daughter of James Henry Mandeville of Merton, Surrey. He was a grandson of General Richard C. Ferguson. In 1864 his father inherited the estates of Novar in Ross-shire and Muirton, Morayshire, and took the additional surname Munro.
Raith as an area once stretched from the lands of Little Raith, south of Loch Gelly, as far as Kirkcaldy and the Battle of Raith is said to have been fought here in 596 AD. Raith Hill, west of Auchtertool and immediately to the east of the Mossmorran fractionation plant, may also be in reference to this wider area or may refer to an actual fort on this hill, distinct to the one naming the area.
The House of Commons, officially the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.
Educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he pursued a military career until 1884.Ferguson joined the 1st Fife Light Horse in 1875: a militia regiment of gentlemen. Three years later, he entered RMA Sandhurst. On the officer's course for a year, he was gazetted to the Grenadier Guards with a commission. He served in the army for a short service limited commission, leaving in 1884 on returning from India. Ferguson joined the Oswald of Dunnikier Lodge 468 on 24 December 1888.
In 1884, Munro Ferguson was elected to the House of Commons but was defeated at the general election of November 1885 by a Crofter candidate in Ross and Cromarty. One historian had accused him of scheming with the Duke of Argyll to corrupt the electoral process.He was defeated again the following year in Dunbartonshire. But at a by-election in July 1886 he secured the nomination at Leith Burghs, principally on the advice of Lord Rosebery. Gladstone had won two unopposed seats but, on refusing Leith to prevent a suspected Unionist Michael Jacks, it became vacant. In August a by-election was held and Home Rule candidate Munro Ferguson was elected.
Ross and Cromarty was a county constituency of the House of Commons of the UK Parliament from 1832 to 1983. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) using the first-past-the-post voting system.
Dunbartonshire was a county constituency of the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1950.
Leith Burghs was a district of burghs constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832 to 1918. The constituency represented the parliamentary burghs of Leith, Musselburgh and Portobello.
Gladston appointed him private secretary to Lord Rosebery, a leading Liberal. Like Rosebery, Munro Ferguson would become a Liberal Imperialist, and a personal friend of the colourful earl.He accompanied Rosebery and his wife, Hannah, on a tour of India in 1886-7 and again in 1892-4. When Rosebery became Prime Minister, Ferguson was promoted in the Treasury department as a junior whip with responsibilities for Scotland. Ferguson continued to urge radicalism to bring Home Rule for Scotland on his friend, whom he supported in 1887 for the Liberal Party leadership.
Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, was a British Liberal politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. Between the death of his father, in 1851, and the death of his grandfather, the 4th Earl of Rosebery, in 1868 he was known by the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny.
The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.
He supported the imperial policies of the Conservative government during the Second Boer War, which made him highly unpopular with the radical, anti-war wing of the Liberal Party. Matters came to a head when he was threatened by Grey in a letter on 18 October 1900. The Liberals had lost another general election to the 'Khaki' Conservatives and so Ferguson disgusted by the derision and division "chucked it" in resigning as Scottish whip. A member of the Liberal Imperialist Council, he was disaffected by the bad treatment of his mentor Rosebery. Nonetheless, he was compelled to work with 'Limps', derisively dubbed by republicans, on "lines of speeches" for "the Asquith Committee" which now controlled the party's Imperialist wing now renamed The Liberal League. Grey, Haldane and the rest seized control of the organization and its administration: the preface to which was Rosebery's remarkable volte face over the South African War, leaving his friend forced to admit to Munro Ferguson "should an Asquith Government be formed he might go abroad."
He, therefore, had little hope of Cabinet office in the governments of Campbell-Bannerman or Asquith, despite his obvious talents. In December 1905, he requested the new Liberal cabinet make him Governor of Bombay but was refused. Instead, he had to be content with provost of Kirkcaldy. He nursed a burning resentment against "over genial" plebeian Asquith.Increasingly, his job in government and liaison of his group had been taken over by R B Haldane when he made it clear in 1907 his decided opposition "to keep Asquith out of the leadership....He has come to be quite unreliable...." But "the political disaster" that he called Asquith's succession made his political career untenable. He was a property owner in Asquith's constituency, a neighbour of Haldane, and just like him had gained the patronage of Lord Morley; they were idealists for social reform.
In February 1914, therefore, Munro Ferguson was happy to accept the post of Governor-General of Australia (he had refused the governorship of South Australia in 1895 and that of Victoria in 1910). He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) prior to his appointment on 18 May 1914.His political background, his connections with the Liberal government in London and his imperialist views made him both better equipped and more inclined to play an activist role in Australian politics than any of his predecessors. At the same time, he had enough sense to confine his activism to behind the scenes influence. He was described as an active Imperial supervisor by the journalist, Keith Murdoch, using his own cipher to signal London.
During the First World War, which broke out in August 1914, the reciprocal power of the Australian High Commission was severely restricted and Government House had a furious falling out with Governor of New South Wales, Sir Gerald Strickland. They grew to hate one another and the latter was jealous of Melbourne's superior power and location of governance. The British Government underfunded the federal government and ignored the huge debts spent by State Governors on public worksbut it was the most active government since federation; and Munro-Ferguson its most active ambassador.
He developed close friendships with two judges of the High Court of Australia: Sir Samuel Griffith (the Chief Justice, and former Premier of Queensland) and Sir Edmund Barton (former Prime Minister of Australia). He consulted Griffith and Barton on many occasions, including on the exercise of the reserve powers of the Crown.
Of the old school[ clarification needed ] Sir Gerald Strickland was deeply reactionary. The new Liberal Governor-General found himself in a struggle over precedence. The post of New South Wales Governor was the oldest in Australia and had long been considered the most powerful. But, by law, the royal appointment to Government House[ clarification needed ] held sway. During the First World War, the strain[ clarification needed ] began to show in the London Liberal government. Ferguson was desperate to keep secrecy, and maintain control over policy access to London. On 3 June 1916, the Colonial Secretary informed Ferguson that a coalition[ clarification needed ] was pending. Strickland, having snubbed the Government[ clarification needed ] in Melbourne, went over the Governor-General's head directly to London. Strickland worked up[ clarification needed ] an ANZAC day annual memorial, which proved very popular – but[ clarification needed ] which Strickland claimed was a national celebration. On 1 May 1917, Munro Ferguson confessed to Lord Stamfordham that he had under-estimated the deep emotional loyalty[ clarification needed ] of ordinary Australians. Press belief[ clarification needed ] that Anzacs were the spearhead elite and shocktroops among dominions gave a status[ clarification needed ] in the British Empire's armies they sustained throughout the war.
It was advantageous that Munro Ferguson was politically experienced because he arrived in Melbourne, then the site of the Parliament of Australia, to find himself in the midst of a political crisis. The Liberal government of Joseph Cook had a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, but the Labor Party had a majority in the Senate and had used it systematically to frustrate the government. Cook was now determined to force a double dissolution election under Section 57 of the Constitution.
On 2 June 1914, barely three weeks after Munro Ferguson had taken office, Cook formally requested a double dissolution. Munro Ferguson had several things to consider. The Parliament elected in 1913 still had two years to run. Cook had not been defeated in the House of Representatives. His sole reason for wanting a dissolution was that he did not control the Senate. This was a situation without precedent in the United Kingdom, where the upper house, the House of Lords, is unelected.
When Munro Ferguson granted Cook a double dissolution, he was furiously denounced by the Labor Party: who maintained that Cook was manipulating the Constitution to gain control of the Senate. Munro Ferguson, influenced by the British House of Lords crisis of 1910, took the view that the lower house should prevail. Paradoxically, it was Cook's Liberal Party who argued that the Governor-General should always take the advice of his Prime Minister, while Labor argued that he should exercise his discretion.
In the middle of the campaign for the 1914 election, news arrived of the outbreak of the First World War. This caused an acute crisis in Australian government. Parliament had been dissolved and the government was in caretaker mode. Furthermore, Australia in 1914 did not have the right to independent participation in international affairs, and so its politicians were completely inexperienced in such.
In these circumstances, Munro Ferguson was the only man with both the constitutional authority and the confidence to act. It was he who convened the Cabinet, implemented the mobilisation plan and communicated with the Cabinet in London. Cook's manoeuvring backfired when Labor won the September election and Andrew Fisher was returned to office.
The Inspector-General William Bridges was given the task of creating an expeditionary force of 20,000 men. Bridges and General White admired the fact that George Pearce, the Minister for Defence in 1914, had been already converted by the 1911 Imperial Defence Conference to a British world view. There was to be one Corps, this led to a second Australian Corps, and even the possibility of a full army recruited solely from Australia. In 1914, Bridges was replaced by the British Indian Army General William Birdwood.
Munro-Ferguson was an enthusiastic supporter of Australian soldiers. He indicated to Colonial Secretary Bonar Law, that General Hamilton had made tactless remarks about officer's class breeding during the Dardanelles campaign. Yet Bonar Law had earlier mentioned Hamilton's praise for the Australians by letter on 24 Aug 1915.Winston Churchill did not help when hinting 'wastage' could be made up from former wounded Australians, and communicating the idea to Munro-Ferguson. A journalist Keith Murdoch tried to take documents from the imperial base at Egypt to London, to meet PM Asquith and Lord Northcliffe of The Times. He was intercepted en route by British intelligence, under orders from General Hamilton. Bonar Law remained critical of the policy and joined David Lloyd George to bring about a Coalition.
Billy Hughes was the driving force behind the war effort and the policy of conscription.The incoming Labor Premier formed a close relationship with Munro Ferguson, who recognised his ability. Munro Ferguson saw his role in wartime as an agent of the British war effort, not just a representative of the Crown. He openly supported those who were committed to the war, and opposed those who were not. Munro-Ferguson sent secret memos to London.
Against the advice, he warned New Zealand against German cruiser Emden.In the Pacific, Japan were allies; but their naval expansionary plans worried. The Colonial Secretary adopted a policy similar to Conservative Sir Stafford Northcote, Governor-General (1904–8). Munro Ferguson was actively travelling the country reviewing troops, meeting dignitaries, and seeing munitions factories. Through an active correspondence with General Birdwood, his influence was felt over senior military appointments. His authority firmly stamped on the Dominion, he favoured Gen Brudenell White over Gen Monash, the eventual commander of AIF.
In October 1915, Fisher resigned and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Hughes. Munro Ferguson recognised Hughes's qualities as a war leader and supported him privately and publicly, in a way that stretched constitutional propriety. Hughes was convinced that only the introduction of conscription would allow Australia to maintain its commitment to the war effort and Munro Ferguson gave him every encouragement. Hughes' answer was to call-up 50,000 more men – but without planning ahead. Hughes refused to call a debate in the Federal parliament.
Munro Ferguson regarded the defeat of the conscription plebiscites in October 1916 and December 1917 as disasters for Australia and the war effort. He also believed that the empire needed an integrationist bluewater policy that mixed Canadian and British troops with Australians in the regimental system. The Governor made it clear that the war was simply and justly a big fight: The absence of carping here over the premature bombardment, and the postponed list casualties is beyond all praise, he wrote of the ANZAC at Gallipoli. In Munro-Ferguson's opinion the press was a victim of hyperbole on Australian soldiers: big-noting ...tale of heroism that thrilled the world.
When Hughes was expelled from the Labor Party after the first plebiscite, Munro Ferguson allowed him to stay in office as a minority Prime Minister, supported by Cook's Liberals. He encouraged Hughes and Cook to form a new party on a "win the war" platform. This party, the Nationalist Party, was formed later in 1916 with Hughes as leader and Cook as deputy leader. During the second plebiscite campaign, Hughes pledged to resign if it were not carried. The plebiscite lost, and Hughes followed through on his promise to resign. However, there were no alternative candidates, and Munro Ferguson used his reserve power to promptly recommission Hughes—thus allowing Hughes to stay in office while fulfilling his promise to stand down.
When David Lloyd George became Prime Minister in Britain, Hughes communicated directly with him (sometimes in Welsh), causing Munro Ferguson to complain that he was being denied his proper role as the medium of communication between London and Melbourne. Despite Munro Ferguson's vigorous assertion of his rights as Governor-General, he could not in the long run halt the decline in the influence of the office.
Once Australia gained the right to independent participation in international affairs, which it did in 1918, Munro Ferguson's days of influence were over.
Alone among the Dominion forces, the Defence Force Act 1903 (Cth) reserved the power to confirm a death sentence passed by Australian courts-martial not to the commander-in-chief of the theatre, but to the Governor-General of Australia. Munro Ferguson refused to confirm the sentence on any of the 113 Australian soldiers condemned by courts-martial.
After the war, trade was restored with Britain, but protectionist and isolationists Conservative policies threatened the Liberal Imperialist vision of unity.In May 1919, Munro Ferguson advised London of his desire to resign. He was pressed to stay on to oversee the Australian tour of the Prince of Wales in 1920. Ferguson left Australia as her most successful Governor-General to date. Australia had played an integral and significant military role in supporting the imperial war effort, but Hughes continued to disrupt imperial unity: the people were now calling for more democracy. He finally departed in October 1920, after more than six years in post.
On his return home, he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Novar, of Raith in the County of Fife and of Novar in the County of Rosson 6 December, named for Novar House, Raith which was the ancestral seat of the Ferguson family. The Liberal PM Lloyd George appointed Novar to be vice-President of the Committee of Council of Education. He was a close political friend of Sir Edward Grey, and took an active part in the business of the Lords. As Vice-President of the Council on Education he was responsible for oversight in 1922.
On the collapse of the Coalition he was adopted by another Scot, Bonar Law, who made Novar Secretary of State for Scotland. Following an official ceremony, he received the Freedom of Edinburgh in 1923; he took an interest in the history and traditions of his homeland. After the brief interlude of the Labour government he left the Scottish office, and was appointed as Chairman of the Political Honours Committee. Whereas in Scotland he became a Member of the Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments and Construction. He remained a Liberal under the new leadership, and was invited to the Board of Trust of National Liberals of Scotland. Taking on directorships he was Chairman of the North British and Mercantile Insurance Company. He was a Director of the Rail Passengers Insurance Company, and of the Union Bank of Scotland: executive posts he held until his death.Novar was granted further honours when he was appointed a Knight of the Thistle (KT) in 1926.
Lord Novar married Lady Helen Hermione (1863 – 9 April 1941), daughter of Lord Dufferin, in 1889. The union was childless.They lived at 18 Portman Square, when in London. He was a member of the Athenaeum and Reform Clubs.
Lady Novar's work for the British Red Cross Society, which included converting the ballroom of Melbourne's Government House for this purpose, earned her appointment as a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1918.
Lord Novar died at his home in 1934, aged 74, his title dying with him as he left no issue. His papers are an extremely important source for historians of Australian politics and Australia's role in the First World War.Lady Novar, GBE, JP (Fife) died in 1941. He was a close friend of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, with whom he corresponded for many years.
Novar Gardens, South Australia was named in 1921 in honour of Viscount Novar.
The Nationalist Party was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Minister Billy Hughes and his supporters after the 1916 Labor Party split over World War I conscription. The Nationalist Party was in government until electoral defeat in 1929. From that time it was the main opposition to the Labor Party until it merged with pro-Joseph Lyons Labor defectors to form the United Australia Party (UAP) in 1931. The UAP was the immediate predecessor to the current Liberal Party of Australia, the main centre-right party in Australia.
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith,, generally known as H. H. Asquith, was a British statesman and Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he played a central role in the design and passage of major liberal legislation and a reduction of the power of the House of Lords. In August 1914, Asquith took Great Britain and the British Empire into the First World War. In 1915, his government was vigorously attacked for a shortage of munitions and the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign. He formed a coalition government with other parties, but failed to satisfy critics. As a result, he was forced to resign in December 1916, and he never regained power.
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General Sir Hector Munro, 8th laird of Novar KB was a British soldier who became the ninth Commander-in-Chief of India (1764–1765).
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General Sir Ronald Craufurd Ferguson, was a Scottish officer in the British Army and a Member of Parliament for the constituencies of Dysart Burghs and for Nottingham.
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Robert Munro Ferguson was a Scottish Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1841 to 1862.
eldest son of Colonel Robert Munro-Ferguson, M.P., for Kirkcaldy, Scotland, and his wife, Emma, daughter of J. H. Mandeville, was born on 6 March 1860. He was educated principally at home, and at the age of 15 joined the Fife light horse. He subsequently studied at Sandhurst, and in 1880 became a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards...
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|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Alexander Matheson, Bt
| Member of Parliament for Ross and Cromarty |
William Ewart Gladstone
| Member of Parliament for Leith Burghs |
George Welsh Currie
The Lord Denman
| Governor-General of Australia |
The Lord Forster
| Secretary for Scotland |
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation|| Viscount Novar |