RT. HON. SIR ROBERT DUFF PC, GCMG
29 May, 1893 to 15 Mar, 1895

Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Duff PC

Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Duff PC, GCMG

[Courtesy of Government House,
Historic Houses Trust]

  • Eighteenth Governor of New South Wales.

  • Born in Scotland in 1835.

  • Appointed Governor in March 1893 and arrived with his family in May.

  • His first year was troubled. The Premier, Sir George Dibbs asked him, to send his assent to a proclamation abolishing the old electoral rolls and constituencies. He did this. In December of the same year, he found himself in a dilemma when a motion of no-confidence was carried against Edmund Barton Attorney-General and R. E. O’Connor, Minister for Justice for holding briefs against the Crown. If he had forced Dibbs to resign by refusing his advice, the dismantled electoral machinery would have not allowed the new ministers to stand for ministerial re-election. Therefore, Duff was accused of partisanship by Sir Henry Parkes and other free traders, and criticized in the press, but he believed his decision had been justified.

  • After losing the July 1894 elections, Dibbs asked the Governor to nominate ten new members to the Legislative Council. Duff offered to make three new appointments, but Dibbs resigned.

  • On the imperial level, Duff was involved in negotiations for compensation for the seizure of the Costa Rica Packet in the Dutch East Indies. When the Sino-Japanese War broke out he warned the New South Wales government of the dangers to neutral ships trading in coal with those at war.

  • He died at Government House in 1895 and was the first New South Wales Governor to die in office. He was buried in Waverley Cemetery and his funeral hatchment is in the Church of St. James, Sydney.

    A. W. Martin, 'CARRINGTON, CHARLES ROBERT', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 5 ed. Douglas Pike pp90-100 ( Melbourne University Press)