Born of a Scottish aristocratic family, Alexander Hore-Ruthven first came to Australia as military secretary to Governor-General Lord Dudley. Returning to England in 1909, Hore-Ruthven joined Kitchener’s staff and accompanied him on his tour of Australia. Hore-Ruthven retired from the army in 1928, became governor of South Australia and was appointed KCMG. His term of office coincided with the Great Depression and the premiership of Lionel Hill. Apparently because of Hore-Ruthven’s influence, Hill supported the Premiers’ Plan of June 1931, which involved reductions in government spending, public works and wages, despite opposition from his own Labor party. Hore‑Ruthven was censured by the United Trades and Labor Council for his 1930 Anzac Day speech, expressing criticism of trade union leadership. The British government considered his service outstanding; he was appointed governor of New South Wales in 1935 and, having been made Baron Gowrie of Canberra and Dirleton and GCMG in 1935, Australia’s governor-general.

By Dirk van Dissel

This entry was first published in The Wakefield companion to South Australian history edited by Wilfrid Prest, Kerrie Round and Carol Fort (Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2001). Edited lightly. Uploaded 24 August 2015.

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Image: Governor General Gowrie inspecting the second Australian Imperial Force, 1939
Image: Informal portrait of South Australia's new Governor, taken on the day of his swearing in. He stands, facing the camera, in full dress uniform including sword, plumed helmet and spurs. On his chest he wears an array of medals and orders.
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