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The Seventh Earl Beauchamp

A Victim of His Times

Peter Raina

The 7 th Earl Beauchamp was a prominent figure in English public life in the years 1900–30, but his career ended in scandal. He was barred from English soil, his reputation was destroyed and his papers were withheld from public view. In this book, Peter Raina uses previously unreleased documents to reassess Beauchamp’s life and legacy.
Born into the aristocracy, Beauchamp was driven by a sense of noblesse oblige and devoted his life to public service. Though some of this was ceremonial, Beauchamp was keen to involve himself in practical politics, where he showed his independence of mind. He joined the Liberals as they pushed through change against obstruction from his own landowning class. He championed Irish Home Rule. In 1914 he opposed entry into the war and lost any chance of promotion. However, he remained deeply loyal to his party even after its split and decline, and worked tirelessly in its cause.
His life touched on great events such as the formation of Australia and, in Britain, the great reforms of 1906–9, the 1911 Parliament Act, the crisis of 1914, the creation of the Irish Free State, the Liberal collapse, the first Labour government and the economic slump. Through all these, he busied himself in party affairs, but one aspect of his private life worked against him and, in a Sophoclean twist, he fell from grace.
This book documents the Earl’s involvement in politics, explores his personality and looks carefully at the issues that brought him down. In the light of this analysis, it is hoped that historians will recognize his significant contribution to the events of his day.
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Chapter 6: The Governor’s Profile: The Year 1900

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CHAPTER 6

The Governor’s Profile: The Year 1900

The backdrop to Earl Beauchamp’s governorship was the final hammering out of the Constitution Bill and Commonwealth Act which brought the Australian colonies together in a Federation; and the ‘South African’ (Second Boer) War, which preyed on a lot of people’s minds. But, in the day-to-day matters of the Governor of New South Wales, the year 1900 was not marked by any particularly significant events. Earl Beauchamp followed a routine of normal administrative and other obligatory social functions. He found a good Prime Minister in Lyne and the two worked well together. They cultivated a mutual respect and even developed a liking for one another. In the course of the year Beauchamp became increasingly popular with the local public, and he fostered friendships with a large circle of people. The voluminous correspondence from this period is an obvious testimony to this. Some of the letters are very curious: one such letter is by Henry Lawson, the Australian author of The Union Buries its Dead, but he was not yet famous and was asking for financial help. Further, we have access to an extensive exchange of letters between Lyne and Beauchamp. The letters rouse our interest: they are at places amusing, but equally informative with regard to official business. A selection of this correspondence is reproduced in the following pages. 1 ← 109 | 110 →

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