Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Harry Holdsworth Rawson appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
4 November 1910

Admiral Sir Harry H. Rawson.

We regret to announce the death, which took place in London yesterday, after an operation for appendicitis, of Admiral Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson, Governor of New South Wales from 1902 to 1909. As recently as Trafalgar day Sir Harry Rawson was present at the banquet of the Royal Naval Club, and the news of his death has been received with some surprise.
Admiral Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson was the second son of the late Mr. Christopher Rawson, of Woolwich, a magistrate in the county of Surrey, and at one time Captain and District Paymaster of Lower Canada. He was born at Walton-on-Hill, Lancashire, on November 5, 1843, and, having been educated at Marlborough College, joined the Royal Navy in April, 1857. The early days of his service were passed among stirring scenes; for he was one of the gun-room officers of the Calcutta, the flagship in China in 1858, and in her launch was present at the capture of the Peiho forts. He then landed as A.D.C. to Captain R. Dew, of the Encounter, and followed the fortunes of that remarkable officer during the operations with the Army, including the battle of Pali Kao and the capture of Peking. For these services he received the China medal, Taku, 1858 and 1860, and Peking clasps. Later on while serving in the Encounter he was twice mentioned in despatches for gallantry — at an action at Fungwha and again at the capture of Ning-po — and took part in many other affairs with the Chinese rebels. On one occasion he was placed for three months in command of a fort with a garrison of 1,000 Chinese troops; on another he received the thanks of his captain for jumping overboard at night and saving the life of a Marine. In April, 1863, he was made a sub-lieutenant, and in the following month promoted to lieutenant. It was about this time that he was chosen as one of the officers to take the gunboat Empress to Japan, a present from Queen Victoria to the Mikado. This fact was referred to by Admiral Kamimura at a banquet given in honour of the visit of a Japanese Squadron to Sydney in 1903, when Sir H. Rawson was Governor of the State of New South Wales. The Admiral said that the Empress was the beginning of the Japanese Fleet, and however great and powerful that fleet might become in the future the Japanese would always remember its British origin with pride and gratitude. After qualifying as gunnery lieutenant he served in several ships in this capacity, and then in the Royal yacht in 1871, and was promoted to commander. It was while he was a lieutenant in August of that year at Antwerp that he again assisted to save life and was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Second-Class Civic Cross of Belgium. After six years' further service in the Channel and Mediterranean Squadrons he was promoted to captain on June 4, 1877.
As a captain, the Admiralty officially acknowledged the value of his report upon the defensive capabilities of the Suez Canal; he hoisted the British flag at Nicosia, in Cyprus, when for a short time he was the Commandant of that place; and he also acted as principal transport officer during the Egyptian war of 1882, receiving the Egyptian Medal, the Khedive’s bronze star, and the Third Class of the Osmanieh. From August, 1890, to January, 1892, he was an A.D.C. to Queen Victoria, and in the last-named year was raised to Flag rank. As a Rear-Admiral his energy and experience first found scope as a member of the committee for revising the signal codes, and as an umpire during the manoeuvres; and then he was given the command of the Cape station. Here he twice planned and carried to success punitive expeditions on shore, first in 1895 against the rebel Arab chief Mouruk, whose stronghold M’weli, he attacked and captured, being awarded the General Africa Medal with "M'weli, 1895," engraved on the rim, and. secondly, in 1897, when with a Naval Brigade he captured Benin City and avenged the massacre of the British Political Officers. He also, in August. 1896, bombarded the Palace at Zanzibar and deposed the pretender to the Sultanate. For these services he received official thanks and approval, and was rewarded with a K.C.B. His last active service afloat was in command of the Channel Squadron, a post he was holding at the time of the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, when the ships under his command paid the Inst honours of the Navy at Spithead as the Royal coffin was conveyed from Osborne to Gosport.
In January, 1902, Vice-Admiral Sir Harry Rawson was appointed Governor of the State of New South Wales in the Commonwealth of Australia, a post for which his tact, kindliness, and good sense were sturdy qualifications. He was heartily welcomed by the Australians, and when his term of office was about to expire a very general wish that he should remain found expression. Accordingly, his term was extended for one year to May, 1909. It was while holding this position that Sir Harry Rawson lost his wife. The Governor had returned to England in consequence of unsatisfactory accounts of the health of Lady Rawson; and she was returning to Australia with her husband, son, and daughter when she died on board the steamer in the Red Sea on December 3. 1905. Lady Rawson, who was a daughter of the late Mr. John Ralph Shaw, of Arrowe Park, Cheshire, was married to Sir Harry Rawson in October, 1871, and there were five children of the marriage, one of the sons being a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Great sympathy was expressed in the State with the Governor in the loss he had sustained, and the feeling with which he was regarded again found expression on his relinquishing his post. On this occasion the Sydney Morning Herald said, "Every one has recognized the qualities of unassuming good will, tact, and honesty of purpose that have made Sir Harry Rawson's period of office so successful. No section of the community does not recall some special occasion when his kindly help and interest have been forthcoming; and perhaps in no direction was his good influence better felt than in the many visits he paid to the schools of the State." During his term of office he was promoted to Admiral and made a G.C.B., and in November, 1908, he was placed on the retired list.
The ripe experience of Sir Harry Rawson, his many sterling qualities, and genial presence will cause the news of his death to be received with more than regret by a very wide circle of friends.

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