The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Gordon, Hon. Sir Arthur Hamilton

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Gordon, Hon. Sir Arthur Hamilton, G.C.M.G., D.C.L., formerly Governor of New Zealand, the fourth son of George, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, by Harriet, daughter of Hon. John Douglas, and relict of James, Viscount Hamilton, was born on Nov. 26th, 1829. He acted as private secretary to his father when First Lord of the Treasury, 1852-5. In July 1854 he was elected as a Liberal for Beverley, but lost his seat at the general election of 1857. In Nov. 1858 he accompanied Mr. Gladstone on his special mission as Lord High Commissioner Extraordinary to the Ionian Islands, and on Feb. 25th, 1860, became captain-commandant of the 1st Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteers. In Oct. 1861 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick; in Nov. 1866 Governor of Trinidad; and in Sept. 1871 assumed the Governorship of Mauritius. In 1874 he retired from the latter post, but in Sept. 1875 became Governor of Fiji, to which office was added two years later that of Consul-General and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. At the end of 1880 he succeeded Sir Hercules Robinson as Governor of New Zealand. The new governor found the Government busy with the troubles in connection with the native land question, and the "prophet" Te Whiti; and in 1881, while Sir Arthur was absent in Fiji upon his duties as High Commissioner, and during the acting governorship of Sir James Prendergast, the Ministry carried out the well-known raid on Parihaka, which culminated in the arrest of Te Whiti. Sir Arthur Gordon, while publicly notifying his opinion that a governor was bound to act upon the advice of his ministers, whether he regarded them as right or wrong, was understood to reserve to himself the right of moral disapproval; and it is believed that his dislike to native policy of the Government led to his resignation of the Governorship in 1882. In the following year he was transferred to Ceylon, and in 1890 returned to England upon the expiration of his term of office. He was created C.M.G. in 1859, K.C.M.G. in 1871, and G.C.M.G. in 1878. Sir Arthur married, on Sept. 20th, 1865, Rachel Emily, eldest daughter of the late Sir John G. Shaw-Lefevre, K.C.B., who died in 1890. In June 1892 he took part in the Queensland Kanaka labour controversy in a sense adverse to the Government policy.