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Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro-Ferguson


(Viscount Novar of Raith)

1860 - 1934

Governor-General of Australia. Born at Raith House (by Kirkcaldy, Fife), grand-nephew of the infamous Robert Ferguson of Raith (1767 - 1840) and eldest child of another Robert Ferguson, who had added the name Munro on inheriting the estates of Novar (Easter Ross) and Muirton (Moray). Munro-Ferguson was educated at home and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He served in the Grenadier Guards (1879-84) and then stood successfully for Parliament representing Ross & Cromarty (1884-5) and the Leith Burghs (1886 - 1914). He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to his friend the Earl of Rosebery (1889-94) and as Junior Lord of the Treasury (1894-5).

His political career faltered under Asquith, who he disliked. He was made a privy councillor in 1910, but turned down a peerage. He had turned down the Governorships of Victoria and South Australia, but became Australia's sixth Governor-General in 1914. His nature suggested he would be proactive, but on the eve of the First World War, this turned out to be a particularly challenging role. As Commander-in-Chief of Australian forces, he was heavily involved in promoting the war effort and involved himself in matters which ranged from arguing for conscription to counter-intelligence and protection of shipping. He also had to deal with the volatile Prime Minister W.M. Hughes who, in 1918, was able to strengthen his own position such that Munro-Ferguson's role was greatly reduced.

In 1920, he returned to Scotland and was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Novar of Raith. Two years later he was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland by Andrew Bonar-Law (1858 - 1923), serving until 1924. He was awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of St. Andrews (1911) and Edinburgh (1923), and was appointed a Knight of the Thistle (1926).

Munro-Ferguson died childless at Raith and his title ceased. He is remembered as one of Australia's ablest Governors-General and the Adelaide suburb of Novar Gardens was named in his honour.


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