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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


JERVOIS, Lieutenant-General Sir William Francis Drummond, G.C.M.G., C.B., F.R.S.


Military engineer, Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Engineers, Twelfth Governor of New Zealand.

A new biography of Jervois, William Francis Drummond appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Jervois was born at Bowes, Isle of Wight, on 10 September 1821, the son of General William Jervois, K.H., Colonel of the 76th Foot, and of Elizabeth, daughter of William Maitland. Jervois was educated at Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (1837–41), and served (1842–49) in Cape Colony, where he undertook several original surveys. The quality of his work brought him to the notice of Lord Raglan, and led to his appointment (1849–62) to increasingly important military posts at home. As Assistant Inspector-General of Fortifications at the War Office, he became responsible for the greater part of Britain's coastal defence. As his fame spread, Jervois was consulted on colonial defences. Between 1862 and 1874 he reported on defence schemes for Canada, Bermuda, Malta, Gibraltar, Aden, India, and Burma. He became Governor of the Straits Settlements (1875), and while there undertook the Perak expedition in which he avenged the British military reverse at Passir-sala. In April 1877 he was appointed defence adviser to the Australasian colonies and, in July, Governor of South Australia. He held the two positions concurrently, visiting all the colonies except Western Australia, and reporting on defence schemes. In November 1882 he was appointed Governor of New Zealand, where he remained until March 1889. Jervois urged the preparation of coastal defence works for New Zealand, writing and lecturing extensively on the subject, and before he left had the satisfaction of witnessing the completion of the defence system he had planned. On his departure colonists farewelled “the best and most popular Governor that New Zealand had ever had”.

Jervois married, on 19 March 1850, Lucy, daughter of William Norsworthy, and by her had two sons and three daughters. He died on 16 August 1897 at Bitterne, Hampshire, from the effects of a carriage accident.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers, Vol. CXXX (Obit)
  • The Times (London), 18 Aug 1897 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.