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Sir Herbert James Stanley, GCMG, (25 July 1872 – 5 June 1955) was a leading British administrator, who served at different times as Governor of Northern Rhodesia, Ceylon and Southern Rhodesia.

Born in England, Stanley was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford,[1] and worked in the foreign service in Dresden and Coburg before serving as the Resident Commissioner for Southern and Northern Rhodesia from 1911 to 1914. Stanley proved controversial in this role when he refused to allow settlers to take land from Africans, instead assigning 21,500,000 acres (87,000 km2) in perpetuity exclusively for the use of Africans.[2]

Based in South Africa during World War I, Stanley married Reniera Cleote, from a leading Cape Town family, in Cape Town in 1918. She was described as "one of the most beautiful women of the century in any country of the world".[3]

In 1918, Stanley was appointed Imperial Secretary in South Africa, a position he held until 1924, when he was appointed the inaugural Governor of Northern Rhodesia. As Governor, Stanley sought an amalgamation of the central African colonies and an extension of the Northern Rhodesian railway into Southern Rhodesia.[4]

In 1927, Stanley was transferred to Ceylon as its Governor, which drew criticism due to his lack of background knowledge of Asian affairs, although he is reported to have acquitted himself well[1]. He returned to Africa in 1931 to serve as High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in South Africa before his appointment as Governor of Southern Rhodesia in 1935, initially for a two year term, but he was persuaded to remain in Salisbury until 1942, when he retired from active service. [5]

Upon his retirement, Stanley settled in Cape Town and was appointed Chief Commissioner of the South African Boy Scouts. He died a widower in a Cape Town nursing home, aged 82, survived by two sons and two daughters.[1]

Dame Reniera Stanley

Reniera Cleote Stanley was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1941, and was styled thereafter as Dame Reniera Stanley. She predeceased her husband and was survived by their four children.


  1. ^ a b c The Times, 6 June 1955 "Sir Herbert Stanley", p. 8.
  2. ^ Wood, J. (2005) So Far and No Further!' Rhodesia's Bid for Independence During the Retreat From Empire, Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1412049520.
  3. ^ Hulugalle, H.A.J., British Governors of Ceylon, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (1963)
  4. ^ Mansergh, N. (1980) The First British Commonwealth, Routledge. ISBN 0714631531
  5. ^ Kent Rasmussen, R. & Rubert, S. (1990) Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe, Second Edition, The Scarecrow Press Inc., New Jersey. ISBN 0-8108-3471-5.
Government offices
Preceded by
Governor of Northern Rhodesia
Succeeded by
Sir James Maxwell
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Clifford
Governor of Ceylon
Succeeded by
Bernard Henry Bourdillon
Preceded by
Fraser Russell
Governor of Southern Rhodesia
Succeeded by
Fraser Russell


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