RANFURLY, Sir Uchter John Mark Knox, Fifth Earl of, P.C., G.C.M.G., Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John, Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace, County Tyron
Fifteenth Governor of New Zealand (1897–1904).
The Fifth Earl Ranfurly, Viscount Northland, and Baron Welles of Dungannon, Tyrone, Ireland, Baron Ranfurly of Ramphorlie, County Renfrew, in the United Kingdom, was born on 11 August 1856, the second son of the Third Earl. He was educated at Harrow, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated but did not graduate. He succeeded to the titles on 10 May 1875, following the death of his brother who was on a shooting expedition in Abyssinia. On 10 February 1880 he married the Hon. Constance Elizabeth Caulfield, only child of James Alfred, Seventh Viscount Charlemonte, C.B., and by her had one son and three daughters.
Lord Ranfurly acted as Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria (1895–97) and was created K.C.M.G. (1897) for his public services. He was appointed to succeed the Earl of Glasgow as Governor of New Zealand on 6 April 1897, assuming office on 10 August. Once in New Zealand he undertook a leading part in the country's social life. He arrived at a time when the reductions made in the Governor's salary by Sir Harry Atkinson were still in force, and in his first three years he was compelled to subsidise heavily his official emoluments from his private sources. It was his threat to resign on this issue which forced the New Zealand Government to introduce the Governor's Salary and Allowance Act of 1900. Lord Ranfurly became Honorary Colonel of the 1st Wellington Battalion (1898) and of the 1st South Canterbury Mounted Rifles (1902). He was created G.C.M.G. in the Coronation Honours, 1901. His term ended on 19 June 1904, when he personally handed over office to Lord Plunket.
On his return to England he was made a Privy Councillor (1905); then for a time he returned to farm in Mildura, Victoria, Australia. But he soon devoted more and more time to his other great interest, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1914 he was a Knight of Justice, and Registrar of the Order in London, becoming (1915–19) Director of its Ambulance Department. In 1919 the French Government made him an Officer of the Legion of Honour for his services in this connection during the war.
After the partition of Ireland, Lord Ranfurly was made a Privy Councillor for Northern Ireland (1923), also serving as Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for his native County Tyrone. He continued his association with the Order of St. John, becoming Bailiff Grand Cross in 1926. He died on 1 October 1933.
Lord Ranfurly played rather more than a passive role as Governor of New Zealand. He had a strong sense of the dignity of his position as the Queen's representative, and did not hesitate, if occasion warranted, privately to call Ministers to order. Nevertheless he was greatly respected by his Ministers, and universally admired by the people, and his departure in 1904 was an occasion for impressive public demonstrations of affection. His great memorial in New Zealand is the Ranfurly Shield – the premier rugby trophy.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Seddon Papers (MSS), National Archives.