Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has a blue registration label of G.P.O. Sydney, a purple handstamp ‘Air Mail’ and the blue 5½d Emu stamp of Australia was postmarked G.P.O. SYDNEY/ date illegible/ E/ N.S.W/ AUST as well as a purple triple circle NEW ZEALAND/ [CROWN]/ (GOVERNMENT HOUSE)/ PAID handstamp, and it was addressed to His Excellency, Sir Ernest Clark, GCMG KCMG, Government House, Hobart, Tasmania (Figures 1 & 1A).

The reverse has a manuscript ‘From Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Keyes’ and there were 3 handstamps, a largely illegible Sydney GPO, a G.P.O SYDNEY/ R.S./ 2 JA 45 from / E/ N.S.W AUST, and the third being the arrival handstamp at REGISTERED/ -3 JA 45/ HOBART.  There was a blue printred crown on the flap, denoting use from Government House in NZ (Figure 2).

Ernest Clark was born on 13 April 1864 at Plumstead, Kent, England, third son of Samuel Henry Clark, schoolmaster, and his wife Ann. Educated privately and at King’s College, London, he entered the civil service in 1881 and was appointed assistant-surveyor of taxes in 1883. Called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1894, he joined the Treasury legal staff. In 1904-05 he was seconded to the government of Cape Colony to assist in planning new taxation procedures and similarly served the Union of South Africa government in 1910-11.

A Treasury liaison officer with the War Office and Ministry of Munitions during World War I, Clark was appointed C.B.E. in 1918 and assistant secretary of the Board of Inland Revenue and deputy chief inspector of taxes next year. Knighted in 1920, he served as assistant under-secretary of Ireland in 1920-21 and secretary of the Northern Ireland ministry of finance and head of the civil service in 1921-25. It was largely due to his skill that the severance of financial relations between Dublin and Belfast was so amicably achieved. He was appointed K.C.B. in 1924. His expertise was again called on in 1930 when he became a member of the Joint Exchequer Board of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Clark visited Australia in 1928-29 as a member of the British economic mission invited by the Australian government to examine the economy. As an author of the subsequent report he deeply impressed the premier of Tasmania, Joseph Aloysius Lyons . It may well have been due to the prompting of Lyons, as prime minister, in 1933, that Clark was offered the governorship of Tasmania. Clark, was already favourably known in Australia, and was prominent in London business circles as a director of Martin’s Bank, the London General Omnibus Co., the Pacific Steam Navigation Co., and the shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff. In accepting the position Clark agreed to the unusual condition of spending within the State a considerable sum from his private resources as well as part of his salary.

He proved an efficient and hard-working governor whose term was extended three times, although his first few years were marred by a lack of rapport with the premier A.G. Ogilvie. During his period in office Clark acted on occasion as unofficial adviser in regard to financial adjustments between the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments. He developed an interest in Tasmanian history and visited every accessible district. A Freemason, he was installed Grand Master in 1935. While he cared little for ‘social time-wasters’ his door was always open to philanthropic groups. He married Mary Winkfield on 13 April 1899 at St Margaret’s Church, and she predeceased him in 1944. After his retirement in 1945 Clark returned to England to settle at Tasmania, Seaton, Devon. On 8 January 1947 at the parish church, Seaton, he married Harriet Jessie Constance McLennan.. Appointed K.C.M.G. in 1938 and G.C.M.G. in 1943 he died on 26 August 1951 at his home. He had no children. His ashes were sent to Hobart for interment in Cornelian Bay cemetery. A picture of Sir Ernest Clark is shown in Figure 3.

Admiral Roger John Brownlow Keyes was born on 4 October 1872 in the North West Frontier of India, the son of General Sir Charles Keyes and his wife Katherine. On his return to England he was educated at a prepatory school at Margate. He married Eva Bowlby on 10 April 1906, and they had 3 daughters and 2 sons. Keyes was commissioned in 1885 in the Royal Navy and fought in the East Africa campaign in 1890. He gained the rank of Commander in 1900 and fought in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. He was Naval Attaché in Rome, Vienna, Athens and Constantinople between 1905 and 1907. He was Captain and Commodore of the Submarine Service between 1910 and 1915. He held the office of Aide-de-Camp to King George V 1914-17 and was Rear-Admiral of the Grand Fleet 1916-17. He fought in the Zeebrugge Raid, Belgium in 1918. He was Vice Admiral of the Dover Patrol 1918-19 and was invested as first baronet Keyes in October 1919. He gained the rank of Admiral in 1926, then Admiral of the Fleet in 1930, and was known as such thereafter. He was member of parliament for North Portsmouth between 1932-1942. He fought in WWII .

His travels, appointments, and distinguished honours (both from the UK and numerous foreign countries) were legion, and he had a long goodwill visit to Canada, United States, New Zealand and Australia from July 1944 until his return to England in April 1945. He died at his home in Buckingham, England of pneumonia at the age of 73 on 26 December 1945, and was succeeded in his barony by his younger son, for the older son was killed in WWII. Two pictures of Lord Keyes, the second shown with Winston Churchill in 1941, are shown in Figures 4 and 5.

The information on Sir Ernest Clark was extracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Categories: Armed Forces, Governors