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De L'Isle, Lady Jacqueline Corinne (1914–1962)

Lady De L'Isle, n.d. [detail]

Lady De L'Isle, n.d. [detail]

Northern Territory Library, 10070/​11800

Lady De L'Isle, wife of Australia's 15th Governor-General, died in her sleep at Government House yesterday morning.

The death of Lady De L'Isle after a long illness was announced from Government House soon after 4 a.m. She was 48.

Her body will be flown to Britain for committal to the vault at Penshurst, the ancestral home of the De L'Isles, in Kent.

All her family, except her son Phillip, aged 16, were at Government House when she died.

The funeral service will be held at the historic St. John's Church of England in Canberra at 11 a.m. on Monday.

A spokesman for Government House said the service would be a private one to which only representatives of the Commonwealth, members of their Excellencies' staff, and personal friends would be invited.

The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Gough, who is related to the De L'Isle family, will be present at the service, but officials have not decided yet whether he will conduct it.

Immediately after the service, Lady De L'Isle's body will be flown by R.A.A.F. plane to Sydney, where it will be transferred to a scheduled overseas flight to England.

The Governor-General, Viscount De L'Isle, will remain in Canberra to meet Prince Philip, who is due at the Fairbairn R.A.A.F. base early on Tuesday morning.

After meeting the Prince, Viscount De L'Isle will fly to England for the committal service. The Governor-General will remain in England for a short period before returning to Canberra.

His children, other than Phillip, who already is in England, will remain at Government House, Yarralumla.

In his absence, the Governor of Victoria, Sir Dallas Brooks, will be Administrator of the Commonwealth.

Viscount De L'Isle is expected to continue as Australia's Governor-General, with his second eldest daughter, the Honourable Catherine Sidney, as hostess at Government House.

His eldest daughter, the Honourable Elizabeth, Mrs. Colthurst, who flew with her husband from England earlier this week, will remain in Canberra until her father's return.

However, her husband will return to England with the Governor-General on Tuesday.

The official period of mourning will cease after the service on Monday.

Flags will be flown on Commonwealth buildings in Canberra at half-mast on this day.

Although Lady De L'Isle was known to have been gravely ill for some time her death was a shock to Canberra yesterday morning.

She had been ill since she returned to Australia at the beginning of last month after specialised post-operative treatment in London.

She had not participated in any official engagements since her return but the official announcement last Monday that her condition was causing anxiety was unexpected.

The Governor-General cancelled all immediate personal engagements.

Daily bulletins from Government House throughout the week announced that Lady De L'Isle's condition remained unchanged.

Tribute
In a tribute to Lady De L'Isle, the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, said, "We extend our deepest sympathy to the Governor-General and his family.

"Lady De L'Isle was a woman of quiet, but remarkable courage and devotion to duty. She had an appealing charm of character and manner which those who knew her will never forget.

"This is a sad day for one of the most closely-knit families I have ever known."

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, said the death of Lady De L'Isle would bring sadness to all Australians.

"She was a gracious and valiant lady whose courage in deciding to reurn to Australia will not soon be forgotten," he said.

"We all join in extending deepest sympathy to Lord De L'Isle and the family."

Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Calwell, said in Sydney that all members of the Federal Opposition and their wives offered their heartfelt sympathy to the Governor-General.

"That this misfortune should come comparatively soon after Lord De L'Isle's assumption of office added to its poignancy.

"Lady De L'Isle's gracious and charming personality, always evident even when she was grievously ill, won the affection of all who met her. Her courage and fortitude in her painful illness won the admiration of all Australians," he said.

The Queen was informed immediately of Lady De L'Isle's death.

A second message was sent to Prince Philip who is in the United States en route to Australia.

Mr. Menzies, State Governors and Premiers also were notified officially.

Mr. Menzies called on Lord De L'Isle at Government House at 11.30 a.m. yesterday to express his personal sympathy and confer on funeral arrangements.

V.C. Lady De L'Isle, who came from County Galway, Ireland, was born Jacqueline Vereker, in London 48 years ago.

After she attended a finishing school in France, she went to India with her father, the late Field-Marshal Viscount Gort, V.C., when she was 19.

When she returned to England she joined the Army Transport service at the beginning of World War Two.

She became a major and left to marry Viscount De L'Isle, then a young Grenadier Guards subaltern, in 1940.

Lady De L'Isle came to Australia in July last year with her husband, who left England at the peak of a successful business career to become the Governor-General.

Slim and dark, with typically English delicate good looks, Lady De L'Isle quickly won enthusiastic approval after her family came to Yarralumla.

Her cultivated wit and decisive personality won friends quickly.

In a short time she became a familiar and popular figure as she accompanied Viscount De L'Isle on his first round of official visits to State capitals and other centres.

These visits were cut short when Lady De L'Isle became ill earlier this year. The illness culminated in her entering the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, for a major operation.

She spent almost a month in hospital and then had several weeks convalescing at Admiralty House.

Her doctor advised her to return to London to undergo highly specialised treatment after her operation.

Accompanied by Viscount De L'Isle and three of her five children, Catherine, Ann, and Lucy, Lady De L'Isle returned to England for four months.

After the treatment was completed, reports from London indicated that Lady De L'Isle had made good progress.

She decided she was well enough to travel and to return to Australia.

On the way back by air via the United States, Lady De L'Isle contracted a virus and was placed under medical attention immediately.

At that time, Viscount De L'Isle announced that his wife would not undertake any official engagements until she was completely well again.

Her condition deteriorated sharply oyer last week-end and on Monday a Government House announcement said her condition was "giving rise to anxiety."

Lady De L'Isle was a devoted family woman. In England, apart from family life, she spent most of her time working for destitute children as president of the Church of England Children's Union.

She took a keen interest in similar work in Australia, while giving herself unreservedly to fulfilling official duties.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'De L'Isle, Lady Jacqueline Corinne (1914–1962)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/de-lisle-lady-jacqueline-corinne-18579/text30232, accessed 8 May 2021.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2021

Lady De L'Isle, n.d. [detail]

Lady De L'Isle, n.d. [detail]

Northern Territory Library, 10070/​11800

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Vereker, Jacqueline Corinne
Birth

20 October 1914
London, Middlesex, England

Death

16 November 1962
Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation