Herbert Chermside

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Sir Herbert Chermside

Sir Herbert Chermside.jpg
9th Governor of Queensland
In office
24 March 1902 – 10 October 1904
MonarchEdward VII
Preceded byThe Lord Lamington
Succeeded byThe Lord Chelmsford
Personal details
Born(1850-07-31)31 July 1850
Wilton, Wiltshire, England
Died24 September 1929(1929-09-24) (aged 79)
London, England
Spouse(s)Geraldine Katharine Webb (1899–1910)
Clementine Maria Reuter (from 1920)
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service1870–1907
RankLieutenant General
Commands3rd Division
14th Brigade
Curragh Camp
Battles/warsMahdist War

Cretan Revolt (1897–1898)

Second Boer War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Companion of the Order of the Bath

Lieutenant General Sir Herbert Charles Chermside, GCMG, CB (31 July 1850 – 24 September 1929) was a British Army officer who served as Governor of Queensland from 1902 to 1904.

Early life and education[edit]

Chermside was born in the town of Wilton in Wiltshire on 31 July 1850. His parents were Rev. Richard Seymour Conway Chermside, rector of Wilton and son of Sir Robert Alexander Chermside, and Emily Dawson.[1] He was a scholar at Eton College and then attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where he graduated at the top of his year and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in 1870.[2]

Military career[edit]

In 1871, Chermside and several other officers visited Paris during the Paris Commune, and were accused of supporting the Communards, narrowly escaping execution. After a posting in Ireland, he joined Benjamin Leigh Smith's expedition to the Arctic in 1873.[3]

In 1876, Chermside was sent to Ottoman Turkey to work with the Turkish forces after Serbia and Montenegro declared war on the country in July. He was working as a military attaché to Turkey in 1877, when Russia also declared war. After six months with the Turkish boundary commission, he was appointed Military Vice Consul to Anatolia in July 1879.[3]

In 1882, Chermside was promoted to captain, and appointed to the British Army's intelligence staff in Egypt. He was given command of the Egyptian Army's 1st Battalion by the army's Sirdar, Evelyn Wood, and spent four years in Egypt where he took part in the Suakin Expedition of 1884, against Muhammad Ahmad's Mahdist forces and served as governor-general of the Red Sea littoral. He was transferred to Wadi Halfa in October 1886, and spent the next two years repelling Mahdist incursions at Sarras.[3]

Although still a captain in the Royal Engineers, Chermside was brevetted major in 1883, lieutenant colonel in 1884 and colonel in 1887. In 1888 he returned to consular duties, spending a year in Kurdistan and seven years as military attaché to Constantinople. He then was assigned to reorganise the gendarmerie of the newly-autonomous Cretan State, later taking command of the British troops there and serving as military commissioner from 1896.[3]

In 1899 Chermside returned to Britain, but was soon sent to South Africa to command the 14th Brigade and the 3rd Division during the Second Boer War. He was back in the United Kingdom to take up command of the Curragh Camp in Ireland from January 1901.[4] In January the following year he was, however, appointed the first post-Federation Governor of Queensland.[5][3]

Governor of Queensland[edit]

Chermside arrived in Australia in early March 1902, landing in Fremantle. On arrival he stated to local reporters that one of the first matters to which the Australian Commonwealth should attend, was the formation of a military college.[6] He arrived in Brisbane on 24 March 1902 to find Queensland in the grip of a drought and economic recession. He immediately volunteered to forgo 15 per cent of his vice-regal salary, and his sacrifice and approachable nature made him a popular figure amongst the Queensland public. However, concerned by the parliamentary attitude to the role of governor, Chermside decided to resign in 1904, although he delayed the announcement until a political crisis had been dealt with by granting a dissolution of parliament to Premier Sir Arthur Morgan after several failed attempts to establish a stable government. Once he had opened the new parliament, Chermside announced his retirement and left Queensland on 8 October on pre-retirement leave.[2]

Family and later life[edit]

Chermside was the second son of the rector of Wilton, Reverend Richard Seymour Conway Chermside, and his wife, Emily Dawson. His paternal grandfather was the military surgeon Sir Robert Chermside.[3]

Chermside was married twice. His first marriage was in 1899 to Geraldine Katherine Webb, daughter of W. F. Webb, of Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire. They had a stillborn son on 9 October 1902 in Brisbane,[7][8] and she childless died in 1910. He remarried in 1920 to Clementine Maria Reuter (daughter of Paul Reuter), and there were no children of the marriage.[2]

Chermside retired from the British Army in 1907 at the rank of lieutenant general. He died in London, aged 79, on 24 September 1929.

Honours and legacy[edit]

Chermside was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1886. He was also made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1880, upgraded to Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1897, and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1899.[2]

The Brisbane suburb of Chermside is named after in Chermside's honour.[9]


  1. ^ Jones, M. G. M. "Chermside, Sir Herbert Charles". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32390. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d Paul D. Wilson, Chermside, Sir Herbert Charles (1850–1929) Archived 2 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp 631–632.
  3. ^ a b c d e f C. V. Owen, Chermside, Sir Herbert Charles (1850–1929), rev. M. G. M. Jones, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008.
  4. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36345). London. 7 January 1901. p. 8.
  5. ^ "No. 27393". The London Gazette. 3 January 1902. p. 1.
  6. ^ "Latest intelligence – Australia". The Times (36710). London. 8 March 1902. p. 7.
  7. ^ "Lady Chermside". The Telegraph (9, 326). Queensland, Australia. 10 October 1902. p. 5 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved 27 October 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "Births". The Times (36896). London. 11 October 1902. p. 1.
  9. ^ History of Chermside Archived 28 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Our Brisbane (Brisbane City Council).
Government offices
Preceded by
Lord Lamington
Governor of Queensland
Succeeded by
Lord Chelmsford