William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Right Honourable
 The Viscount De L'Isle

In office
3 August 1961 – 7 May 1965
Preceded by The Viscount Dunrossil
Succeeded by The Lord Casey

Born 23 May 1909(1909-05-23)
Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
Died 5 April 1991 (aged 81)
Kent, United Kingdom

William Philip Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle VC KG GCMG GCVO KStJ PC (23 May 1909 – 5 April 1991), was the 15th Governor-General of Australia and the last one who was British. He was a descendant of King William IV by his mistress Dorothea Bland.


Early life

He was the younger of two children, and the only son, of William Sidney, 5th Baron De L'Isle and Dudley (19 August 1859-18 June 1945) and his wife, Winifred Agneta Yorke Bevan (d. 11 February 1959). The Sidney family was one of England's oldest and most distinguished families. He was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge and became a chartered accountant. In 1929 he joined the Grenadier Guards Reserve of Officers.

War service

Victoria Cross Medal Ribbon & Bar.jpg

During World War II Sidney served in France and Italy. He led a handful of men in the defence of the Anzio beachhead, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Sidney led a successful attack which drove German troops out of a gully. Later he led another counter-attack and dashed forward, engaging the Germans with his tommy gun at point-blank range, forcing a withdrawal. When the attack was renewed, Sidney and one guardsman were wounded and another killed, but he would not consent to have his wounds dressed until the Germans had been beaten off and the battalion's position had been consolidated. During this time, although extremely weak from loss of blood, he continued to encourage and inspire his men.

In later life, when asked where he had been shot, he would jocularly respond that he was shot in Italy. This was to conceal the fact that he had, in fact, been shot in the buttocks.

The ribbon for the medal was made from one of his father-in-law Lord Gort's uniforms and was awarded by General Alexander on 3 March 1944 in Italy.

Political Life

At a by-election in 1944 he was elected unopposed to the House of Commons as Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chelsea. His father died in 1945 and he succeeded as 6th Baron De L'Isle and Dudley. In 1951 he was appointed Secretary of State for Air under Winston Churchill and held that office until 1955. During this time he visited Australia, travelling to Woomera to examine weapons research and meeting the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies. In 1956 he was created Viscount De L'Isle.


In 1961, following the sudden death of Lord Dunrossil, Menzies recommended De L'Isle's appointment as Governor-General of Australia. He performed his ceremonial duties with dignity and travelled widely around Australia. There were no political or constitutional controversies during his term, since the Menzies Liberal government was firmly in power. De L'Isle's Official Secretary throughout his term was Murray Tyrrell.

Marriage and Issue

Sidney married Jacqueline Corrine Yvonne Vereker (20 October 1914 - 15 November 1962), daughter of Field Marshal Lord Gort, on 8 June 1940. The couple had 5 children;

After his wife's death, he married Margaret Shoubridge on 24 March 1966 in Paris. They had no issue.


By the time of De L'Isle's retirement in 1965, public opinion was strongly in favour of an Australian Governor-General, although this was not a reflection on his performance in the role. His continuing interest in Australia was shown by several visits after his retirement, the last for Australia's bicentenary in 1988, when he presented a bronze statue which now stands in the grounds of Government House in Canberra.

De L'Isle held firmly conservative views and was involved in the foundation of what is now the Freedom Association. He died in Kent on 5 April 1991.

Styles and Honours

  • The Hon. William Sidney (1909–30 March 1944)
  • The Hon. William Sidney VC (30 March 1944–1945)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord De L'Isle and Dudley VC (1945–1951)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord De L'Isle and Dudley VC PC (1951–13 January 1956)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Viscount De L'Isle VC PC (13 January 1956–11 May 1961)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Viscount De L'Isle VC GCMG PC (11 May 1961–14 March 1963)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Viscount De L'Isle VC GCMG GCVO PC (14 March 1963–23 April 1968)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Viscount De L'Isle VC KG GCMG GCVO PC (23 April 1968–1991)

He was appointed Knight of the Garter (KG) on 23 April 1968[1], becoming one of only two men ever to have held both of the highest orders of gallantry and chivalry - Victoria Cross and Knight of the Garter (the other being Field Marshal the Lord Roberts).[2]

See also


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Samuel Hoare
Member of Parliament for Chelsea
Succeeded by
Allan Noble
Political offices
Preceded by
Arthur Henderson
Secretary of State for Air
1951 – 1955
Succeeded by
Nigel Birch
Government offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Dunrossil
Governor-General of Australia
1961 – 1965
Succeeded by
The Lord Casey
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount De L'Isle
1956 – 1991
Succeeded by
Philip Sidney
Preceded by
William Sidney
Baron De L'Isle and Dudley
1945 – 1991
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sidney Patrick Shelley
(of Castle Goring)
1965 – 1991
Succeeded by
Philip Sidney


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address