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third Earl of Stradbroke (1862–1947)

by L. R. Gardiner

This article was published:

third Earl of Stradbroke, by Johnstone, O'Shannessy &​ Falk, n.d.

third Earl of Stradbroke, by Johnstone, O'Shannessy &​ Falk, n.d.

State Library of Victoria, 58836306

third Earl of Stradbroke (1862-1947), governor, was born on 19 November 1862 in London, only son of John Edward Cornwallis Rous, second earl, and his wife Augusta, née Musgrave. Educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1884; M.A., 1890), he succeeded his father in 1886. On 23 July 1898 at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, he married Helena Violet Alice Keith Fraser. Stradbroke was aide-de-camp to successive sovereigns in 1902-29 and Queen Alexandra stood sponsor to his first son. Vice-admiral of the Suffolk coast and chairman of the East Suffolk County Council, he was an honorary colonel in the Territorial Army. In World War I he commanded a number of Royal Field Artillery brigades in France, Egypt and Palestine, and was awarded the Territorial Decoration in 1918. He was appointed C.B. (1904), C.V.O. (1906), C.B.E. (Military) 1919, Knight of grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (1920) and K.C.M.G. (1920).

As governor of Victoria from 24 February 1921 to 7 April 1926, he spanned five changes of ministry. Arriving after a period of staid local deputizing, the dutiful and outgoing Stradbroke and his volatile wife met their moment brilliantly. The States-wide clamour in 1925 for Australian-born governors failed in Victoria which wore its 'Lang Syne' with a difference. Yet only reluctantly (mainly over money differences with the Colonial Office) did Stradbroke extend his term to three, then to five years. Knowledgeable about farming, ex-servicemen, education, youth (scouting and guiding), immigration, economic development, horse-racing and yachting, Stradbroke effectively managed the appropriate word. A Freemason, he was grand master of the United Orange Lodge of Victoria (1922-26).

His Victorian visits read like map references to the entire State. In 1921 he travelled in New South Wales and Queensland, and next year in Western Australia, 'Gaining Fresh Ideas'. While in Central Australia in 1924 he was anxiously reported overdue, and 'Lord Stradbroke's Plight' was headlined. In 1925 he visited New Zealand via Tasmania, '3000 miles in Three Weeks'. 'Do something for somebody', he advised at St Mark's, Camberwell, that September. He exemplified the family motto, 'I live in hope'.

Lady Stradbroke, D.B.E., mother of five sons and three daughters, was regal in appearance and, where possible, informal in manner. Despite her brush with Lady Forster (two vice-regal ladies cramped in one city), she was a good mixer at all levels. Her philanthropy was evinced in her dedication to her 'newsboys', and in the farewell to her at St Kilda in 1926 enthusiastically attended by a wide representation of women.

A cheery-faced man of medium height and build, in 1928-29 Stradbroke was parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which befitted his amphibious interests, landholdings and practical knowledge of stock-breeding. From 1935 he was lord-lieutenant of Suffolk, the county in which he farmed 10,000 acres (4047 ha). He died on 20 December 1947 at Henham Hall, Suffolk, where he was buried.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Lindsay, Time Without Clocks (Melb, 1962)
  • Woman's World, 1 Apr 1926
  • Punch (Melbourne), 28 May 1925
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23 Aug 1922, 1, 2 Aug 1924, 24 Aug, 21 Sept 1925, 23 Feb, 1 Apr 1926, 23 Dec 1947
  • Australasian, 3 Apr 1926
  • Times (London), 22, 23 Dec 1947
  • Lady Stradbroke papers (State Library of Victoria)
  • AJCP microfilms: Governor's Dispatches and CO notes, 1922, CO 418/220, 1923, CO 532/234, 1924, CO 532/273, 1925, CO 532/307-8
  • and Stradbroke diary of journey to Central Australia, 1924, A 15/13 and Rous family papers and Presentation address from Lord Mayor, 25 Mar 1926, A 15/9.

Citation details

L. R. Gardiner, 'Stradbroke, third Earl of (1862–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

third Earl of Stradbroke, by Johnstone, O'Shannessy &​ Falk, n.d.

third Earl of Stradbroke, by Johnstone, O'Shannessy &​ Falk, n.d.

State Library of Victoria, 58836306

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Rous, George Edward John Mowbray

19 November, 1862
London, Middlesex, England


20 December, 1947 (aged 85)
Henham Hall, Suffolk, England

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