Guide to the Memoirs of Sir Dudley De Chair (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

De Chair, Dudley Rawson Stratford, Sir
Memoirs of Sir Dudley De Chair (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1923 - 1930
Collection Number
2 item
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) Online Portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

The autobiography of Sir Dudley de Chair, covering his naval career from 1878 to 1917, was edited by his son Seymour de Chair and published under the title The Sea is Strong in 1961. The publishers and Seymour de Chair considered that de Chair's memoirs of his later life, including his time as Governor of New South Wales, belonged to a separate book. Up to 2017, the two Australian volumes have not been published.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1969. (AJCP reel M716). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Originally filmed at the private residence of Commander G.H.D. de Chair, Boxmoor, Hertfordshire. The papers of Sir Dudley de Chair, including the drafts of his autobiography, are now held in the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ (Documents 7865).

For further information see Sir Dudley De Chair at the Imperial War Museum (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP). The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Aboriginal Australians; China; Consitutions: Australian colonies; De Chair, Sir Dudley R.S.; Governors and Governors General; Japan; Lang, John T.; London, England; New South Wales; New South Wales: politics and government; Singapore: visits; Sydney, New South Wales


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998.Entry 127, p. 46.

Biographical / Historical

Sir Dudley Rawson Stratford de Chair (1864-1958) was born in Lennoxville, Canada. His uncle, Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, was Governor of New South Wales in 1902-1909. De Chair's family returned to England in 1870 and in 1878 he joined the Royal Navy, becoming a midshipman in 1880. He was promoted to commander in 1897, captain in 1902 and rear admiral in 1912. De Chair married Enid Struben in 1903. In 1915-1916 he was commander of the tenth cruiser squadron, which was responsible for the North Sea blockade of Germany. He was knighted in 1916 and promoted to vice admiral in 1917. In 1918 he took command of the coastguard and reserves. He became an admiral in 1920.

De Chair was appointed Governor of New South Wales in October 1923 and he and Lady de Chair arrived in Sydney in February 1924. He faced considerable political difficulties following the election in May 1825 of a Labor Government led by J.T. Lang. Lang's attempts to appoint 25 new members to the Legislative Council, with the ultimate aim of abolishing the Council, were foiled by de Chair, leading to calls from Government supporters for his recall. The tensions between Premier and Governor ended when the Lang Government was defeated at the election in October 1927. The rest of the governorship was mostly uneventful.

De Chair retired in April 1930 and spent most of his later life in London. His autobiography The Sea is Strong was published posthumously in 1961.

Graham de Chair

Graham De Chair (1905-1995), the son of Sir Dudley de Chair, joined the Royal Navy in 1923 and served on the New Zealand Squadron in 1927-1929. He was ADC to his father in 1927-29 and accompanied his parents on their long journey back to England in 1930. His journals covering these four years were also microfilmed by the Australian Joint Copying Project (M717).

Item Descriptions

Draft of autobiography: Volume 6. Australia (102pp.), 1923 - 1926 (File)

Topics include the Cocos Islands, Government House, Sydney, domestic staff, life in the outback, sheep stations, a visit to Yass (1924), the Ancient Society of Mariners, speech-making, the Southern Highlands, Dame Nellie Melba, visits of Anna Pavlova, Feodor Chaliapin, Jan Paderewski and Fritz Kreisler, speeches by de Chair and Lady de Chair, surfing and yachting, travels in western New South Wales including Tibooburra and White Cliffs, stories of bushrangers, Australian artists, a visit to Hobart, Australian Aboriginals, a visit to an Aboriginal mission at Taree (1926), the attempt by Jack Lang, the Premier, to abolish the Legislative Council (1925-1926), moves by Lang to have de Chair recalled, the resignation of the Government, the 1927 election, the question of a possible dismissal of the Premier, and the views of Professor Arthur Berriedale Keith on the New South Wales constitutional crisis. There are a few photographs.

Typescript volume, with manuscript amendments, comprising the following chapters:
  1. Governor of New South Wales [1923]
  2. Arrival in Australia [1924]
  3. Visit to south-west of the State [1924]
  4. Visit to Special Service Squadron – emigration problems
  5. Describing some artistic, social and official activities
  6. Mission from the Hopi tribe of Red Indians – another tour of Never Never Land [1926]
  7. Lord and Lady Allenby's visit [1925]
  8. Politics
  9. More politics

Draft of autobiography: Volume 7. Australia (120pp.), 1926 - 1930 (File)

Subjects include a journey by plane to Wentworth in south-western New South Wales, a visit to Government House in Canberra, the trans-Pacific flight of Charles Kingsford-Smith, a visit to Twofold Bay, visits to Pitcairn Island and New Zealand (1929) and visits to Brisbane and Darwin (1930). There are references to Leo Amery, the Secretary of State for the Dominions, Lord Stonehaven, the Governor-General, James O'Grady, the Governor of Tasmania, and Thomas Bavin, the Premier. The draft includes texts of letters that de Chair received from the Duke and Duchess of York, Lord Cavan, Lord Stamfordham and Leo Amery. There are a few photographs.

Typescript volume, with manuscript amendments, comprising the following chapters:
  1. Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York [1927]
  2. Visitors to Government House and visit of the Dominions Secretary
  3. Randwick races
  4. Amery arrives; my term of office extended [1927]
  5. Visit to Lord Howe Island [1927]
  6. A trip to England [1928]
  7. Return to New South Wales; visit to Broken Hill [1929]
  8. Pack and leave [1930]
  9. Bali – some weird native customs
  10. Sourabaya – Singapore
  11. Saigon – Angkor – Pekin; reminiscences of Christopher Rawson
  12. Japan – USA
  13. At home – Empire Day speech – I see the King