Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson

Birth Date 1860-03-06
Birth Place United Kingdom: Scotland, Fife
Death Date 1934-03-30
Death Place United Kingdom: Scotland
Also known as Ronald Craufurd Ferguson, Viscount Novar

Ronald Munro Ferguson was Australia’s sixth Governor-General, serving from 1914 to 1920.

Born Ronald Craufurd Ferguson on 6 March 1860 in Scotland, he was the eldest child of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Ferguson, a wealthy member of the British House of Commons who, in 1864, inherited the estates of Novar in Ross-shire and Muirton, Morayshire, and took the additional surname Munro.
After graduating from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Munro Ferguson served in the Grenadier Guards from 1879 to 1984, before entering parliament in 1884 as a Liberal. In 1889, he married Lady Helen Hermione Blackwood.

Although he had previously declined offers of state governorships, in February 1914 Munro Ferguson accepted the post of Governor-General of Australia, along with a knighthood. When war broke out later that year, promotion of the British and Australian war effort became his main preoccupation. He travelled extensively inspecting camps, corresponded with British and Australian generals, and met frequently with the Minister for Defence. Nine days after the start of the war, Lady Munro Ferguson established a branch of the British Red Cross – what would become the Australian Red Cross – run out of the ballroom at Government House.

In October 1915, Billy Hughes succeeded Andrew Fisher as Prime Minister, and Hughes and Munro Ferguson formed a close but complex relationship. Hughes was a driving force behind the war effort and the policy of conscription. Munro Ferguson strongly supported those who were committed to the war and so supported the Prime Minister both publicly and privately, to an extent that sometimes seemed to compromise the impartiality required of him as Governor-General. Hughes was convinced that conscription was the only way Australia would be able to continue to meet its commitment to the war effort, a view encouraged by Munro Ferguson. When the conscription referendums were defeated in October 1916 and December 1917, Munro Ferguson considered it a disaster for the war effort.

By the end of the war, the influence of the office of Governor-General had begun to decline in Australian politics, but one important power still held by this office was that of confirming death sentences passed by Australian courts-martial. Munro Ferguson refused to confirm the sentence on any of the 113 Australian soldiers on whom it had been passed.
In 1920, Munro Ferguson resigned as Governor-General and returned to Britain, where he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Novar, named for Novar House in Raith, which was the ancestral seat of the Ferguson family. He remained active in politics and business until his death in 1934, aged 74.


Date of birth 06 March 1860
Governor-General of Australia 1914-1920
Date of death 30 March 1934