Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Phipps, George Augustus Constantine

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PHIPPS, GEORGE AUGUSTUS CONSTANTINE, second Marquis of Normanby (1819–1890), born on 23 July 1819, was the son of Constantine Henry Phipps, first marquis of Normanby [q. v.], by Maria Liddell, eldest daughter of Thomas Henry, lord Ravensworth. From 1831 to 1838 he was known as Viscount Normanby, and from that time till his father's death as Earl of Mulgrave. On 9 Nov. 1838 he entered the Scots fusilier guards, and was gazetted major in the North Yorkshire militia on 18 Aug. 1846. He resigned his commission in the army in 1847, but remained an officer in the militia till 1853. On 28 July 1847 he was elected M.P. for Scarborough in the liberal interest, and was re-elected in 1852 and 1857. He also acted as one of the liberal whips during the ministries of Lords John Russell, Aberdeen, and Palmerston. He was named comptroller of the household on 23 July 1851, and sworn of the privy council on 7 Aug. of the same year. From 4 Jan. 1853 to February 1858 he was treasurer of the household. In January 1858 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, and held that office till July 1863, when he returned to England on succeeding to his father's title.

Normanby was appointed a lord-in-waiting by Earl Russell on 8 May 1866, but went out of office with him two months later. On 17 Dec. 1868 he was appointed to the same post by Mr. Gladstone. Exactly a year later he was named captain of the corps of gentlemen-at-arms, and held the office till the spring of 1871. On 8 April 1871 he became governor of Queensland. He seems to have had doubts as to the profitableness of goldmining in that colony, but on 29 April 1873, when he received an enthusiastic reception on his visit to the Gympsie goldfields, declared that the mining industry would be the backbone of Queensland's future (Visit of Governor Normanby to the Gympsie Goldfields, 1873). His three years' term of government in Queensland was a period of marked progress, and his administration gave general satisfaction.

On 5 Sept. 1874 Normanby was appointed successor to Sir George Bowen as governor of New Zealand. He arrived at Auckland on 3 Dec., and made the usual progress through the provinces. He was generally well received, both by Europeans and Maories (see esp. Visit of his Exc. the Governor to the North, 1876). In 1875–6 the colony was divided into counties, in which councils, elected triennially, were established. During the last two years of his government in New Zealand Normanby and Sir George Grey, the premier, were in constant collision. The governor declined to make an appointment to the legislative council which Grey recommended. The assembly censured his action. He refused to dissolve the assembly by Grey's advice, and Grey charged him with making his ministers ‘not advisers, but servants’ (cf. Rees, Sir George Grey, pp. 453–454).

In February 1879 Normanby left New Zealand, and became governor of Victoria, where he remained till 1884. During his government the Melbourne international exhibition was held, and the long-disputed question of the reform of the legislative council was settled. In 1881 he was involved in a dispute with the Victorian premier, Mr. Berry, similar to that in which he had been engaged with Sir George Grey. He declined to dissolve parliament on Mr. Berry's demand. In August 1884 Normanby left Victoria for England, and retired from public life on a pension. He had been created K.C.M.G. in 1874, and G.C.M.G. in 1877. On 9 Jan. 1885 he was created G.C.B.

A consistent liberal through life, he broke with Mr. Gladstone on the home rule question, and resigned the chairmanship of the Whitby Liberal Association. He died, after a long illness, at 6 Brunswick Terrace, Brighton, on 3 April 1890. He was buried in St. Oswald's Church, Whitby. Normanby was a good administrator and a terse speaker. His genial manner made him popular, both in the colonies and with his own tenants. A man of simple tastes, he took much interest in agriculture. He was a prominent member of the Four-in-hand Club.

Normanby married, on 17 Aug. 1844, Laura, daughter of Captain Robert Russell, R.N. She died on 26 Jan. 1885, leaving a large family. Constantine Charles Henry (b. 1846), the eldest son, now canon of Windsor succeeded to the marquisate; the second son, William Brook (b. 1847), died in 1880.

[Doyle's Baronage; Burke's Peerage, 1895; Yorkshire Post, 5 April 1890; Times, 4 April; Illustr. Lond. News, 19 April (with portrait); Whitby Gazette, 11 April; Rusden's Hist. of New Zealand, chap. xviii. and xix., and of Australia, chap. xix.; Colonial Year Book, 1892, pp. 140–1, 251; Ret. Memb. Parl.; Men of the Time, 1887; Haydn's Book of Dignities.]

G. Le G. N.