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LORD BEAUCHAMP, (WILLIAM LYGON), 7TH EARL, GOVERNOR & POLITICIAN

The cover is addressed to His Excellency Lord Beauchamp, Madresfield Court, Malvern Link, England with a manuscript ‘Please forward’ and the blue 2½d N.S.W. stamp is postmarked with the duplex OXFORD STREET/ AP 6/ 11.30 A.M/ 10 cancel which was an error for 1901, as shown by the cancels on the reverse (Figure 1).

The reverse has a SYDNEY/ AP 6/ NOON/ 01/ 43 duplex and an arrival postmark MALVERN/ 5 AM/ MY 23/ 01 in England, as well as the black crest of the PREMIER’S OFFICE/ SYDNEY N.S.W. (Figure 2).

The second cover has a faint address Earl Beauchamp K.C.M.G., Madresfield, nr Worcester, England and has a total postage of 2½d made up of two red 1d NSW ‘Shield’ stamps plus the green ½d Q.V. stamp. They are postmarked with the duplex SYDNEY/ JY 7/ 5 30 PM/ 03/ 40 (Figure 3).

The reverse has the blue crest of the GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF AUSTRALIA as well as the MALVERN/ 5 AM/ AU 12/ O3 reception postmark (Figure 4).

William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp, was born in London on 20 February 1872, the elder son of Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl and his first wife, Lady Mary, daughter of the 5th Earl Stanhope. William was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. He succeeded his father in 1891, inheriting 5,000 acres in Worcestershire. He had been the mayor of Worcester at 23 when Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain surprisingly offered him the Governship of N.S,W. in May 1899 at the age of 27. He "scarcely knew where the Colony was and certainly knew nothing about it."

Although disappointed with colonial politicians and bureaucracy, Beauchamp admired the absence of bribery in NSW government. Though good at the job, he was unpopular in the Colony, and Beauchamp returned to Britain in 1900, where he joined the Liberal Party. In July 1902 he married Lady Lettice Grosvenor, daughter of Earl Grosvenor. In England he became Lord president of the council and first commissioner of works in the Asquith government in 1910 to 1915, and he was leader in the House of Lords from 1924-1931.

In 1931 he was "outed" as a homosexual to King George V by his brother-in-law, the Duke of Westminster, who hoped to ruin the Liberal Party through Beauchamp. Homosexuality was a criminal offence at that time, and the King was horrified, saying "I thought that men like that shot themselves". Beauchamp resigned all his appointments except the Lord wardenship of the Cinque Ports, went into exile in 1931 in Germany, Italy and France (but he visited Australia three times in the 1930's). He died of cancer in New York on 14 November 1938, leaving an estate of £140,993, and his title passed on to his eldest son.

The first letter was sent from the Premier’s Office, Sydney but was not sent as official mail, for there was no O.H.M.S. designation, and the necessary postage was applied. The Premier at that time was John See from 28 March 1901 to 14 June 1904. Of interest See was knighted (KCMG) in 1902, so is listed usually as Sir John. The letter was addressed to Beauchamp at his home. The second letter had the crest of the Australian Governor-General and it would have been a private letter without O.H.M.S. and the correct postage was added. It was also sent to Beauchamp’s home at Madresfield. The Governor-General at the time was Hallam, 2nd Lord Tennyson from 9 January 1903 to 21 January 1904.

A picture of Lord Beauchamp as Governor of New South Wales in 1899 is shown in Figure 5.

In addition to other sources, this paper was based on the on-line edition of The Australian Dictionary of Biography.


 
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