William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Dunrossil
14th Governor-General of Australia
In office
2 February 1960 – 3 February 1961
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Robert Menzies
Preceded by Sir William Slim
Succeeded by The Viscount De L'Isle
Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
31 October 1951 – 19 September 1959
Monarch George VI
Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir Douglas Clifton Brown
Succeeded by Sir Harry Hylton-Foster
Postmaster General
In office
15 May 1940 – 1942
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by George Tryon
Succeeded by Harry Crookshank
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
29 January 1939 – 3 April 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by The Earl Winterton
Succeeded by George Tryon
Minister of Food
In office
4 September 1939 – 3 April 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Office Established
Charles McCurdy as Minister of Food Control, 1921
Succeeded by The Lord Woolton
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
29 October 1936 – 29 January 1939
Monarch Edward VIII
George VI
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by Walter Elliot
Succeeded by Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith
Personal details
Born William Shepherd Morrison
(1893-08-10)10 August 1893
Torinturk, Argyll,
United Kingdom
Died 3 February 1961(1961-02-03) (aged 67)
Canberra, ACT,
Resting place St John the Baptist Church, Reid
Nationality British
Political party Conservative

William Shepherd Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil GCMG MC KStJ PC QC (10 August 1893 – 3 February 1961) was a British Conservative politician who served as Speaker of the House of Commons and the 14th Governor-General of Australia.

Early life

Morrison was born in Scotland and educated at George Watson's College and the University of Edinburgh. He joined the British Army as an officer in the First World War and served with an artillery regiment in France, where he won the Military Cross.[1] In 1919 he left the Army with the rank of Captain. He was elected to the House of Commons as Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Cirencester and Tewkesbury in 1929. In Parliament he acquired the nickname "Shakes", from his habit of quoting from the works of William Shakespeare.

Ministerial career

Morrison had a long ministerial career under four Prime Ministers (Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill). He was:

Political life

Campaigning during the general election of 1945, Morrison attacked Socialism and contended that Hitler and Mussolini began as Socialists. He further claimed that although Labour objected to the Conservatives calling themselves 'National', the Conservatives had no objection in their opponents labelling themselves National-Socialists.[2] In 1947 he attacked identity cards which had been introduced during the war because he believed they were a nuisance to law-abiding people and also because the cards were ineffective.[3]

In 1951, when the Conservatives returned to power, Morrison was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. He was opposed by Labour MP Major James Milner, who said it was his party's turn to have a Speaker of the House. It was the first contested election for the post in the twentieth century. Morrison was elected in a vote on party lines.

Governor-General of Australia

Morrison held the post of Speaker until 1959, when he announced that he would not be contesting the forthcoming general election but retiring for reasons of health. As was customary for former Speakers, he was made a Viscount, taking the title Viscount Dunrossil, of Vallaquie in the Isle of North Uist and County of Inverness.[4] Given his health, it surprised many when it was announced shortly thereafter that he had been chosen to succeed Sir William Slim as Governor-General of Australia. He was also appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) that year.[5] By this time support for the idea of British governors-general was declining in Australia, but the Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, was determined to maintain the British link (and, in particular, the Scottish link).

Honours and decorations


Military cross BAR.svg Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png 100px British War Medal BAR.svg

Victory Medal ribbon bar.svg GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png ElizabethIICoronationRibbon.png

Ord.St.Michele-Giorgio.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) 1959[5]
Military cross BAR.svg Military Cross (MC) 1915[1]
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Knight of the Order of St John (KStJ) 1960[6]
50px 1914-15 Star
British War Medal BAR.svg British War Medal
Victory Medal ribbon bar.svg Victory Medal
GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935
GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
ElizabethIICoronationRibbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1952

End of life

Dunrossil took office on 2 February 1960. However he died suddenly in Canberra only a year later (almost to the very day), on 3 February 1961. He was buried in Canberra at historic St John the Baptist Church, Reid and remains the only Australian governor-general to die in office. His Official Secretary throughout his term was Murray Tyrrell.

The 1st Viscount was succeeded by his son, John Morrison, 2nd Viscount Dunrossil, who was a career officer in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, holding several senior diplomatic appointments, including serving as Governor of Bermuda. He was proud to wear his father's vice-regal hat on formal occasions on the island colony.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29131. p. 3694. 15 April 1915. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  2. R. B. McCallum and A. Readman, The British General Election of 1945 (Oxford, 1947), p. 144.
  3. "Identity cards in the UK - a lesson from history". Statewatch News online. Retrieved 4 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. The London Gazette: no. 41867. p. 7155. 13 November 1959. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The London Gazette: no. 41917. p. 79. 1 January 1960. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 42108. p. 5326. 2 August 1960. Retrieved 4 October 2015.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Davies
Member of Parliament for Cirencester and Tewkesbury
Succeeded by
Nicholas Ridley
Preceded by
Douglas Clifton Brown
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Hylton-Foster
Political offices
Preceded by
Alfred Duff Cooper
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
John Colville
Preceded by
Walter Elliot
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith
New title Minister of Food
Succeeded by
The Lord Woolton
Preceded by
The Earl Winterton
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
George Tryon
Preceded by
George Tryon
Postmaster General
Succeeded by
Harry Crookshank
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir William Slim
Governor-General of Australia
Succeeded by
The Viscount De L'Isle
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Dunrossil
Succeeded by
John Morrison