Skip to main content

"Round the World" Thomas Brassey (Image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1877

by Carlo Pellegrini

chromolithograph (sheet: 38.5 cm x 25.5 cm)

Thomas Brassey, 1st Earl Brassey (1836–1918), politician and governor, studied law and modern history at Oxford before entering the House of Commons in 1868. As the member for Hastings, he dedicated himself to matters such as wages and working conditions, and contributed greatly to reforms in naval administration and maritime policy. He was a civil lord of the Admiralty under William Gladstone; parliamentary secretary to the Admiralty in 1884–1885; and a lord-in-waiting to Queen Victoria. In his spare time, Brassey undertook voyages on his steam yacht, Sunbeam, which he sailed to Melbourne in 1895 after being appointed governor of Victoria. Brassey and his second wife, Sybil, were noted for their support of children’s causes and school education, Lady Brassey, for example, founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to and Neglect of Children. A supporter of Federation, Brassey left office shortly before Queen Victoria gave her assent to the Commonwealth Act in 1900. Elevated to the peerage in 1886, he was created Earl Brassey on the coronation of George V in 1911.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
Accession number: 2015.15