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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Stanley, Sir Arthur Lyulph (1875–1931)

by Elizabeth Cham

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Sir Arthur Lyulph Stanley (1875-1931), governor, was born on 14 September 1875 in London, eldest son of Edward Lyulph Stanley, later 4th baron (d.1925), and his wife Mary Katharine, née Bell, granddaughter of Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, the millionaire ironmaster of Durham. Belonging to one of England's most famous ruling families, Arthur spent his childhood at the Stanley seats in Cheshire and north Wales. He was educated at Eton (1889-1894) and Balliol College, Oxford (B.A., 1898; M.A., 1902), and served with the militia in the South African War. In 1902 he was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple and two years later was elected to the London County Council. On 29 August 1905 he married Margaret Evelyn Evans Gordon in the parish church at Ightham, Kent. Stanley was Liberal member for Eddisbury division of Cheshire in 1906-10 and parliamentary private secretary to the postmaster-general. A free-thinker, he was exceptionally literate, well-informed and held firm, liberal views. Handsome and charming, with the ease and courtesy of his breeding, he had 'a brisk sense of humour' and a schoolboy appreciation of practical jokes, but was outwardly austere.

In November 1913 Stanley was offered the governorship of Victoria. Appointed K.C.M.G. in January 1914, he arrived in Melbourne on 22 February where his youthful appearance, 'homeliness' and undisguised anxiety to please made a favourable impression. World War I largely determined and dominated his duties: he traversed the State encouraging donations to patriotic funds, supported recruiting drives and privately agreed with W. M. Hughes's position on conscription.

Sir Arthur faced a delicate social and political situation. Since Federation no Victorian governor had seen out his full (five-year) term and the governorship had been beset with dissatisfaction, frustration and controversy. There had been agitation to appoint only Australians to the position and some laborites argued for the abolition of the office. Stanley came to agree with these sentiments, albeit for different reasons: he found little work to do; ministers resented any interference in their affairs; and, as both governor and governor-general then resided in the same city, the presence of the State governor was awkward, confusing and superfluous. In August 1917 Stanley offered to resign; when requested by the Colonial Office to remain a further year, he reluctantly agreed. After suffering a duodenal haemorrhage, he left Melbourne on 30 July 1919 on leave of absence and his appointment ended on 30 January 1920.

A director of the National Bank of Australasia and of the Australian Mercantile, Land & Finance Co., Stanley briefly returned to Australia in 1923. That year he failed by 80 votes to win a seat (Knutsford) in the House of Commons. He was chairman (1925-28) of the Royal Colonial Institute and of the East Africa Joint Committee. Stanley died of actinomycosis on 22 August 1931 in London following an operation. His wife, a son and three daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Lubbock, People in Glass Houses (Melb, 1977)
  • Bulletin, 4 Dec 1913
  • Age (Melbourne), 29 Dec 1913, 23 Feb 1914
  • Argus (Melbourne), 29 Dec 1913, 24 Aug 1931
  • Australasian, 3 Jan 1914
  • Punch (Melbourne), 19 Mar 1914
  • Times (London), 24 Aug 1931
  • Official Dispatches between Sir A. Stanley and Colonial Office, vols 9, 10, 11 (1914-17) (Government House Library, Melbourne)
  • Stanley papers (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Elizabeth Cham, 'Stanley, Sir Arthur Lyulph (1875–1931)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 19 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Arthur Stanley,1914

Arthur Stanley,1914

State Library of Victoria, H90.108/115

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Stanley, fifth Baron

14 September 1875
London, Middlesex, England


22 August 1931
London, Middlesex, England

Cultural Heritage