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Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson

Personal data
Date of birth11 August 1852
Place of birthTwickenham, Surrey
United Kingdom
Date of death2 December 1928(age 76)
Place of deathFreshwater, Isle of Wight
United Kingdom
2nd Governor-General of Australia
In office9 January 1903 - 21 January 1904
MonarchEdward VII
Succeeded byThe Lord Northcote
Preceded byThe Marquess of Linlithgow
14th Governor of South Australia
In office10 April 1899 - 17 July 1902
Edward VII
Succeeded bySir George Le Hunte
Preceded bySir Thomas Buxton

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Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, GCMG, PC (11 August 1852 2 December 1928), the second Governor-General of Australia, was born at Chapel House, Twickenham, in Surrey, England. Named after his father's late friend Arthur Hallam, he was the elder son of Alfred Tennyson, the most popular and prominent poet of late Victorian England. Hallam was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge, but his career aspirations ended when his parents' age and ill-health obliged him to leave Cambridge to become their personal secretary. The idea of going into politics was also abandoned.

It was partly for Hallam's benefit that Alfred Tennyson accepted a peerage in 1884, the year Hallam married Audrey Boyle (after being disappointed in his love for Mary Gladstone, daughter of William Ewart Gladstone). On his father's death in 1892, he inherited the title Baron Tennyson, and also the role of official biographer. His Tennyson: a Memoir was published in 1897.

Like his famous father, Tennyson was an ardent imperialist, and in 1883 he had become a council member of the Imperial Federation League, a lobby group set up to support the imperialist ideas of the Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain. It was this connection, as well as the Tennyson name, that led Chamberlain to offer Tennyson the position of Governor of South Australia in 1899. He was still in this position when the Governor-General, the Earl of Hopetoun, resigned suddenly in May 1902.

Tennyson was the senior state Governor and thus became acting Governor-General upon Hopetoun's departure on 17 July. There were some doubts about his ability to fill the job on a permanent basis since he had little experience of politics. But he had made a good impression in Australia through his modesty and frugality, unlike the ostentatiously imperious Hopetoun. In January 1903 he accepted the post for, at his own suggestion, a one-year appointment only.

The new Governor-General was popular and got on with Australians far better than his predecessor had done. But problems arose through the ambiguity of his position. The Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, insisted that the Governor-General's official secretary must be appointed and paid by the Australian government. The British government objected (privately) because this would mean that the Governor-General could not carry out what was seen in London as his broader role in supervising the Australian government. Tennyson shared this view.

As a result, relations between Deakin and Tennyson grew tense. Deakin (rightly) suspected that Tennyson was reporting on him to London and trying to interfere on matters of policy, such as the naval agreement between Britain and Australia. For this reason Deakin did not encourage Tennyson to seek an extension of his one-year term. None of this was known to the public and Tennyson left Australia in January 1904 to universal expressions of approval.

He spent the rest of his life in the Isle of Wight, serving as deputy governor from 1913. His wife died in 1916, and in 1918 he married again. Tennyson's second wife was the daughter of an English family long prominent in India. Mary Emily (May) Prinsep (1853 1931) was the daughter of Charles Robert Prinsep, born in India and later the owner of a large nutmeg plantation in Singapore. (Prinsep Street and Prinsep Place in Singapore are named for him.) May Prinsep's first husband was Andrew Hichens; her second husband was Baron Tennyson. The National Portrait Gallery has eight photographs of May Prinsep, taken by her relation Julia Margaret Cameron on the Isle of Wight.

He died at his house, Farringford in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight in December 1928.

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