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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 7: Resignation from the Governorship

Extract

← 136 | 137 →

CHAPTER 7

Resignation from the Governorship

On 17 September 1899 Queen Victoria announced that the people of Australia would be united in what was to be known as the Commonwealth of Australia. This new nation was to consist of six states: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and ten Australian territories outside the borders of the states. The Commonwealth would have a federal parliament, consisting of two houses, a senate and a house of representatives. The senate would be composed of equal numbers of senators from each of the states, and the house of representatives would be elected by popular vote in equal electorates.1 There would be a federal Prime Minister, and a Governor-General, appointed by the Crown. Each state would have its own parliament, a Premier and a Governor appointed by the Crown. The Governor-General and the state Governors were required by conventions to act on the advice of the federal Prime Minister and the state Premier respectively. The Commonwealth of Australia was formally proclaimed on 1 January 1901. A new nation was thus born, with its own constitution. 2 ← 137 | 138 →

William Lyne favoured the idea that Beauchamp should continue as state Governor of New South Wales under the new constitution of 1901, and put an enquiry out to Henry Copeland,3 the Australian Agent-General.

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