Herbert Chermside

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Lieutenant General
Sir Herbert Chermside
Sir Herbert Chermside.jpg
9th Governor of Queensland
In office
24 March 1902 – 10 October 1904
Monarch King Edward VII
Preceded by The Lord Lamington
Succeeded by The Lord Chelmsford
Personal details
Born (1850-07-31)31 July 1850
Wilton, Wiltshire, England
Died 24 September 1929(1929-09-24) (aged 79)
London, England
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Geraldine Katharine Webb (1899–1910)
Clementine Maria Reuter (from 1920)
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1870–1907
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands 3rd Division
14th Brigade
Curragh Camp
Battles/wars Mahdist War Second Boer War

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

Early life and education

Chermside was born in the town of Wilton in Wiltshire in 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

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 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 (1883), lieutenant colonel (1884) and colonel (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, and was appointed in command of the Curragh Camp in Ireland from January 1900.[4] He was sent to South Africa, however, to command the 14th brigade and the 3rd division in during the Second Boer War. In late 1901, he resumed command at the Curragh, but in January the following year was appointed the first post-Federation Governor of Queensland.[5][3]

Governor of Queensland

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

Herbert 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: in 1899 to Geraldine Katherine Webb, daughter of W. F. Webb, of Newstead Abbey Notts (she died in 1910); and in 1920 to Clementine Maria Reuter (daughter of Paul Reuter). Both marriages were childless.[2]

Sir Herbert 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

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 (CMG) in 1880, upgraded to Knight Commander (KCMG) in 1897 and Knight Grand Cross (GCMG) in 1899.[2]

The Brisbane suburb of Chermside is named after him.[7]


  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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Paul D. Wilson, Chermside, Sir Herbert Charles (1850–1929), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp 631–632.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 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 (London). Monday, 7 January 1900. (36345), p. 8.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 27393. p. 1. 3 January 1902.
  6. "Latest intelligence – Australia" The Times (London). Saturday, 8 March 1902. (36710), p. 7.
  7. History of Chermside, Our Brisbane (Brisbane City Council).
Government offices
Preceded by
Lord Lamington
Governor of Queensland
Succeeded by
Lord Chelmsford