Aussie Queer History in 30 secs: Earl Beauchamp, William Lygon

earl beachamp william lygon

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.”

There’s so much more to this story:

William Lygon, Earl Beauchamp: Gay Governor of NSW.

The handsomeness of the Earl’s male staff often excited comment.

The scandal of 36: The Sydney divorce of William Lygon’s former private secretary Gorgeous George.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at

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