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'A Postmaster General' (Sir James Fergusson) (Image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1892

by Sir Leslie Ward

chromolithograph (sheet: 38.0 cm x 24.5 cm)

Sir James Fergusson (1832–1907) was governor of South Australia from 1869 to 1873. Rugby and Oxford educated, he had served with the Grenadier Guards before entering the House of Commons in 1854, and was appointed to the South Australian post in 1868 having served as Under Secretary for India and the Home Office. Arriving in Adelaide in February 1869, he encountered a colony in the midst of a recession, with unemployment high, commodity prices low, and people leaving for the eastern states. Despite this, Fergusson was active in encouraging trade, agriculture and industry, one of his most notable achievements being to secure for South Australia the contract for the 3,200 kilometre overland telegraph line between Darwin and Port Augusta, completed in 1872. In June 1873 he took up office as governor of New Zealand; and in 1880 he accepted the post of governor of Bombay. In later years, he served again in the Commons (from 1885 to 1906); was the British Postmaster General (1891–1892); and held roles with enterprises such as the National Telephone Co and the Royal Steam Packet Co. He died in an earthquake in Jamaica in 1907.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2014
Accession number: 2014.42