Playing their Part: Vice Regal Consorts of New South Wales 1788-2019­ examines the lives of the women (and one man) who were the wives, daughters, sisters (and husband) of the governors of New South Wales over the past two-hundred and thirty years. In 2020 the RAHS published the stories of the thirty-eight consorts. Their lives were researched and written by twenty-two dedicated volunteer authors whose commitment, and that of the three volunteer editors (Joy Hughes, Carol Liston AO and Christine Wright), has resulted in a publication that adds to the understanding of the consorts’ service and survival. Thank you to all our contributors who willingly gave their time to research and write the biographical entries. View the contents page and read the President’s message.


‘A portable canvas house, brought over for the governor, was erected on the East side of the cove …’ – David Collins, February 1788

The vice-regal consorts have lived in five state significant heritage sites – First Government House Site, Sydney (now an archaeological site at the Museum of Sydney), Old Government House Parramatta (National Trust property) and the present Government House, Sydney. Government House has served a dual function: it was the seat of executive government in NSW and the private residence of the vice-regal family. The First Government House in Sydney, built in 1789, was the official residence of the early colonial governors. A second inland retreat was established at Parramatta in 1790. When these sites fell into disrepair or could no longer accommodate the vice-regal families, work began on the present Government House in 1837. For some years after Federation, Cranbrook at Double Bay became the NSW Government House when the Governor-General of Australia resided in Government House, Sydney. The consorts and their families for many years had the pleasure of an official holiday estate at Hillview, in the Southern Highlands.


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