Royal Reels: Gambling


If ever a cover speaks to you, then this one surely should. The highly experienced UK seller gave a simple description: Australia, 1913 Roo on Cover to UK. This turned out to be a considerable understatement. The mourning cover was addressed to Lord Tennyson, Farringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England and the red 1d kangaroo on a map of Australia stamp was postmarked MT BARKER/ 4 30P 17 DE 13/STH AUSTRALIA. In script an underlined ‘P & O mail’ was added by the sender. There was no sender’s name nor receiving postmark (Figure 1).

I was surprised to learn that Tennyson, the great Victorian poet, had been knighted, but I was reasonably certain that his life had not extended into the 20th century. This problem was quickly solved for Alfred’s oldest son Hallam had become the second Lord Tennyson on his father’s death in 1892, and Hallam held the title until his death in 1928.

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) became the owner of the family home Farringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight in 1853 and was made a baron in 1883. The year 1850 was a momentous one in his life for he published ‘In Memoriam’ (to the memory of his great friend Arthur Hallam), he married Emily Sellwood, and Queen Victoria appointed him Poet Laureate of England. His son Hallam was born in 1852, and was named after Alfred’s deceased friend.

Hallam Tennyson (1852-1928) was born in Twickenham, educated at Marlborough College, Trinity College, Cambridge and the ‘Inner Temple’. For many years he acted as his father’s secretary. Hallam had a strong connection to the Isle of Wight and Farringford, but also to Australia. He lived in Farringford whilst Alfred was alive as well as after his death, and as the second Lord Tennyson he was elected chairman of the Isle of Wight Rural District Council in 1894. Even subsequently, whilst in South Australia in 1901, he was deputy Governor of the island.

Hallam was first married to Audrey Boyle in 1894 and they had 3 sons, and the first son, Lionel Hallam who was born in 1889 succeeded to the title on Hallam’s death. Lionel’s main claim to fame was that he became an English Test cricketer before becoming the third Lord Tennyson.

Hallam was prepared to accept a colonial governorship and in 1899 he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of South Australia. He remained in this position from 1899 until July 1902. But, Hallam Lord Tennyson was meant for higher things, for on the resignation of Lord Hopetoun, as the first Governor General of Australia, Hallam was appointed acting Governor- General, and then was confirmed as Governor-General until January 1904. Hallam was created K.C.M.G. in 1899, and G.C.M.G. in 1903, and was made a Privy Councillor in 1905, after he returned to England in 1904.

Hallam did not undertake any subsequent governorships, although in March 1903 he had indicated his readiness to serve as the Governor General of Canada, and in November of 1905 he was offered the governorship of Madras, India, but he declined.

Whilst Governor General of Australia, his relations with the first Australian Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, were sometimes rocky. A picture of Hallam (seated, with cane) with the Prime Minister (seated second from left) and his Cabinet Ministers is shown in Figure 2.

This photo shows that Hallam had come a long way from his childhood photo taken when he was 6 years of age. The photo was taken by the Rev. Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll).  Hallam is shown in Figure 3.

His wife Audrey died in 1916 and Hallam remarried in 1918, and his second wife outlived him by 2½ years. This wonderful cover is about a very interesting family, but the reason for the mourning cover being sent from South Australia to the Isle of Wight in 1913, could not be found in an extensive search of the family history.

This is an abridged form of a paper published in the New South Wales Philatelist, November 2003, Volume 25, Number 4, pages 1-3.

Categories: Governors, Mourning Covers