The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Fergusson, Right Hon. Sir James
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Fergusson, Right Hon. Sir James
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Fergusson, Right Hon. Sir James, Bart., G.C.S.I., K.C.M.G., C.I.E., M.P., is the eldest son of the late Sir Charles Dalrymple Fergusson, of Kilkerran, Ayrshire, on whose death, in 1849, he succeeded as 6th baronet. His mother was Helen, second daughter of the Right Hon. David Boyle, Lord Justice-General of Scotland. He was born on March 14th, 1832, and was educated at Rugby and University College, Oxford. Having entered the army in 1850, he became successively lieutenant and captain in the Grenadier Guards. Serving in the Crimea in 1854-5, he was wounded at Inkerman, and received a medal with three clasps and a Turkish medal. He was M.P. for Ayrshire from 1854 to 1857, when he was defeated, but was again returned in 1859, and sat till 1868. He was Under- Secretary for India from 1866 to 1867 in the third Derby Government, and Under-Secretary for the Home Department in the first Disraeli Ministry from the latter year till 1868, when, having been sworn of the Privy Council, he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of South Australia, and held office from Feb. 1869 to Feb. 1873. Responsible government leaves but little to the initiative of the governors of the self-governing colonies; but Sir James Fergusson is entitled to considerable credit in connection with the establishment of cable communication between Australia and England, the construction of the overland telegraph line from Port Darwin to Adelaide resulting from the encouragement which he gave to Mr. Strangways when the latter was Premier of South Australia. Sir James married, in 1859, Lady Edith Christian Ramsay, daughter of the Marquis of Dalhousie; and this lady died in 1871, during his tenure of the government of South Australia. Two years later he married a second time, the object of his choice being a South Australian lady—Olive, daughter of the late John Henry Richman, of Wambanga, in that colony, and previously of Adelaide, solicitor. From June 1873 to Dec. 1874 Sir James was Governor of New Zealand, when he resigned and returned to England, being created K.C.M.G. in the same year. In 1875 he unsuccessfully contested Frome, and in 1878 Greenock with a like fate. He was Governor of Bombay from March 1880 to March 1885. In Jan. 1882 his second wife, who in the previous December had received from the Queen the decoration of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, died suddenly in Bombay, of English cholera, during her husband's absence at Baroda. Sir James, who was created G.C.S.I. in 1885, was elected for one of the divisions of Manchester at the general election in that year, and again in 1886. In August of the latter year he was appointed Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and in Sept. 1891 Postmaster-General, in succession to the late Mr. Raikes. He has been for some years past a director of the Bank of New Zealand.