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Governor Sir Robert Duff with Lady Duff, Lord Hopetoun and Vice-Regal Party, 1893

Kerry & Co

gelatin silver photograph (backing sheet: 26.6 cm x 35.3 cm, image: 20 cm x 14.6 cm)

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. Meanwhile, he was elected to the House of Commons as the member for Banffshire, fulfilling this role until he was appointed governor in March 1893. Knighted before he left England, he arrived in Sydney in May 1893 with his wife Louisa. (At that time, Lord Hopetoun was governor of Victoria; he became the first governor general in 1901.) Before the end of 1893, Duff became embroiled in a political dilemma when, having agreed to an act to re-draw existing electoral rolls and boundaries, he assented to a request from 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 became 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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2014

Accession number: 2014.34

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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