7th Earl of (John Adrian Louis Hope) Hopetoun

The Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908), a Scottish aristocrat and politician, was governor of Victoria in 1889-95 and a fervent supporter of Federation. Appointed the first governor-general of Australia, he invited [Sir William Lyne])/people/42-lyne-sir-william-john/list) to be prime minister in 1901, pending a general election. Lyne lacked the political support necessary to form a federal government, and Hopetoun commissioned Sir Edmund Barton instead. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography


21 September 1900

First Governor-General and Prime Minister

On 21 September, Queen Victoria appoints Lord Hopetoun as the Commonwealth of Australia’s first Governor-General. He arrives from England ill with typhoid fever, so the Queen invites the NSW Premier, William Lyne, to form a government. Most politicians refuse to work with Lyne who had opposed Federation, and Hopetoun is forced to appoint Edmund Barton as Australia’s first Prime Minister.


Swearing in Lord Hopetoun as Governor-General of the Australian Commonwealth.
1 January 1901

Commonwealth of Australia proclaimed

On 1 January the Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed in Centennial Park, Sydney. The Proclamation and Letters Patent of the Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, are read out and the nine members of the interim federal Ministry are sworn in. The Ministry includes Edmund Barton (Prime Minister, Department of External Affairs), Alfred Deakin (Attorney-General’s Department), Sir William Lyne (Department of Home Affairs), Charles Cameron Kingston (Department of Trade and Customs), Sir James Robert Dickson (Department of Defence), Sir John Forrest (Postmaster-General’s Department), Sir George Turner (Department of the Treasury), Sir Neil Elliot Lewis and Richard O’Connor. Edmund Barton is Prime Minister from 1901 to 1903. Sir Robert Randolph Garran is appointed as the first, and briefly, the only Commonwealth public servant on 1 January 1901 as Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department and parliamentary draftsman. Their roles in the first Commonwealth government are commemorated in the names of Canberra’s early suburbs.


Opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 1901.