Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Wodehouse, Philip Edmond

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WODEHOUSE, Sir PHILIP EDMOND (1811–1887), colonial governor, born on 26 Feb. 1811, was the eldest child of Edmond Wodehouse (1784-1855) of Sennow Lodge, Norfolk, by his wife and first cousin, Lucy (d. 21 June 1829), daughter of Philip Wodehouse (1745-1811), prebendary of Norwich. The Earl of Kimberley is his second cousin Wodehouse obtained a writership in the Ceylon civil service in May 1828, and became assistant colonial secretary and clerk of the executive and legislative councils in October 1833. In 1840 he was appointed assistant judge at Kandi, and in 1843 government agent for the western province. In 1851 he was nominated superintendent of British Honduras, where he directed his attention to financial and fiscal reform, and on 23 March 1854 he arrived at Georgetown as governor of British Guiana. His administration was signalised by two serious negro riots, the second occasioned by the imposition of a head tax. On 25 July 1857 the governor and his suite were pelted by a large mob of negroes, and several persons injured. In 1858 he was employed on a special mission to Venezuela. On 28 Oct. 1861 he succeeded Sir George Grey [q.v. Suppl.] as governor of the Cape of Good Hope and high commissioner in South Africa, offices which he held until 1870. He arrived at Cape Town on 15 Jan. 1862, and was almost immediately occupied in arbitrating between the Orange Free State and the Basuto chief, Moshesh. Wodehouse did not regard the government of the Orange Free State with much favour. In October 1864, however, on the request of the president, Sir Johannes Henricus Brand [q. v. Suppl.], he determined the boundary line between the Basutos and Free State in favour of the latter. Moshesh acquiesced in the decision, but in the following year took advantage of another pretext to declare war on the Free State. Wodehouse, on 27 June 1865, issued a proclamation of neutrality, and on 12 March 1868, after the natives had been worsted, he declared the Basutos British subjects, at the request of Moshesh, and ordered the cessation of hostilities. After long negotiations he succeeded on 12 Feb. 1869 in coming to an agreement with the Free State, by which they received some cessions of territory while the rest of the Lesuto became a native reserve under British protection. He was involved during the whole of his administration in a conflict with colonial opinion on the question of responsible government. Cape Colony had received representative institutions, but the limits of the governor's authority were as yet unsettled, and the principle that the administration should direct the internal policy of the colony was not yet established. Unlike his predecessor, Sir George Grey, Wodehouse disapproved of responsible government, desiring a more autocratic system, and even proposing that the Cape should return to the position of a crown colony. He successively proposed four constitutions, each more despotic than the last; but finding no adequate support at home, and encountering bitter opposition in the Cape, he failed to find a solution of the problem, which was left to his successor, Sir Henry Barkley [q. v. Suppl.]

On 2 March 1872 Wodehouse was appointed governor of Bombay, retaining office until 1877, when he was succeeded by Sir Richard Temple. He cultivated the friendship of native states, and successfully dealt with riots in Bombay, consequent on the famine of 1874. On relinquishing his command on 30 April 1877, he retired from active service. He was nominated C.B. in 1860, K.C.B. in 1862, and G.C.S.I. in 1877. He died in London on 25 Oct. 1887 at Queen Anne's Mansions, Westminster. On 19 Dec. 1833 he married Katherine Mary (d. 6 Oct. 1866), eldest daughter of F. J. Templer. By her he had an only child, Edmond Robert Wodehouse, M.P. for Bath since 1880. The division of Wodehouse in Cape Colony, created in 1872, was called after the governor.

[Colonial Office Lists; Gibbs's British Honduras, 1883, p. 129; Rodway's Hist. of British Guiana, Georgetown, 1894, pp. 114–36; Theal's Hist. of South Africa, 1854–72, passim; P. A. Molteno's Life and Times of Sir J. C. Molteno, 1900, passim; Temple's Men and Events of my Time in India, 1882, pp. 461–2, 475, 480; Temple's Story of my Life, 1892, ii. 2–3.]

E. I. C.