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Sir Robert William Duff

1835 – 1895

Sir Robert William Duff (1835–1895) was governor of New South Wales from May 1893 until March 1895. The only son of a Scottish landowner, he joined the Royal Navy at age thirteen and served for over twenty years, ultimately attaining the rank of commander. In the midst of this, he was elected to the House of Commons as the Member for Banffshire, fulfilling this role until being appointed Governor of New South Wales in March 1893. He was knighted prior to his departure for Australia and with his wife, Louisa, arrived in Sydney in May 1893. Before the end of that year, Duff became embroiled in a political dilemma when, having agreed to an act to redraw existing electoral rolls and boundaries, he assented to a request from the NSW Premier, Sir George Dibbs, to prorogue Parliament (thereby sparing Dibbs from being forced to resign). Duff was accused of partisanship by Sir Henry Parkes and was strongly chastised by the Colonial Office. During a visit to Tasmania in early 1895, Duff was taken ill; he returned to Sydney, where he died from a liver disorder and septicaemia in March. He was the first New South Wales Governor to die in office. His wife and seven children survived him.

Updated 2018