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Hopetoun loved hunting, and broke many bones doing it.

Image title:
The Earl of Hopetoun, Marquis
of Linlithgow

National Library of Australia

Image ID:

T Humphrey & Co

John Hopetoun (1860–1908)

English lord and first governor-general of Australia

In 1889 Hopetoun came to Australia as a young man not yet 30 to be governor of Victoria. He was rich, gave lots of dinners at Government House and was easy-going with everyone – so he was very popular. He returned to England in 1895 and was appointed first governor-general in 1900.

He had a difficult job in choosing the prime minister to start the new government on 1 January 1901. Elections had not yet been held so he did not know which was the stronger party. Barton had led the federal movement, but he was also the leader of the protectionists. If Hopetoun chose him, the free-traders would be upset. He chose the premier of New South Wales, William Lyne, even though he had been an opponent of federation. Lyne could not get enough leading politicians to join him so he recommended to Hopetoun that he make Barton prime minister.

The choosing of Lyne has been called a 'blunder', but it could be said that Hopetoun had done well. Barton became prime minister but not as the personal choice of the governor-general.