Governor of NSW between 1899 and 1901 as a young man, Earl Beauchamp, William Lygon, returned in later life as an exile.
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Appointed Governor of NSW aged 27, the wealthy Earl was not greatly impressed with the colony. He returned to England early and entered politics. Despite his privileged background, his main concern was improving the lives of the working classes.
Although happily married, the Earl also enjoyed a promiscuous gay sex life. After his brother-in-law gathered evidence of his homosexuality, he went into exile to avoid scandal. He traveled from one global gay hotspot to the next, including frequent stopovers in Sydney.
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William Lygon barely heard of NSW before his appointment and didn’t think a great deal of the place once he saw it.
The main memory of him in Sydney was of the splendid parties he threw at Government House. The writer Victor J. Daley wrote an account of one shindig that would be quoted for decades to come.
“Rosy-cheeked footmen, clad in liveries of fawn, heavily ornamented with silver and red brocade, with many lanyards of the same hanging in festoons from their broad shoulders, stood in the doorway and bowed as we passed in… Lord Beauchamp deserves great credit for his taste in footmen…
“I was piloted to a seat by a pretty, young, peach-cheeked gentleman. In a court suit of black velvet, adorned with buttons of cut steel, and with a cunning little court sword hanging at his side. I may say here that the most striking feature of the vice-regal menage is the youthfulness of all its members.”
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