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Casey family

Source:
The Oxford Companion to Australian History
Author(s):

Stuart Macintyre

Casey family 

spans Australian history from the convict era to the closing years of the British Empire. Cornelius Gavin Casey (1810–96) came to Tasmania from England in 1833 and served as surgeon at the penal settlement of Port Arthur. His success as an investor was surpassed by his son, Richard Gardiner (1846–1919), who worked as a jackeroo in Victoria, managed pastoral properties in NSW, and established still larger pastoral enterprises in Qld. Mining investments as well as his successful reconstruction of the Goldsbrough Mort pastoral company created a substantial fortune. His two elder sons, Richard Gardiner (1890–1976) and Dermot (1897–1977), were educated in Melbourne and England. Both men served in World War I and both were awarded the Military Cross. Dermot Casey became an archaeologist, and was a founder of the Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

During the 1920s Richard Casey served as liaison officer for the Australian prime minister S. M. Bruce in London. He returned to Australia in 1931 to enter politics, was immediately elected to the Commonwealth parliament, and by 1935 was federal treasurer. Shyness, impatience with politics and a patrician style ultimately frustrated his ambitions. Bested by R. G. Menzies in the struggle for party leadership in 1939, he served briefly as Australian representative to the USA, then as British minister of state in the Middle East, and finally as governor of Bengal. His postwar re-entry into Australian politics again saw him lose to Menzies. As minister for external affairs 1951–60, he was a devout Cold Warrior and oversaw the transfer of dependence from the UK to the USA. He retired from parliament with a life peerage, and subsequently served as governor-general 1965–69. Casey published extensively and Australian Father and Son (1966) records the family history. His wife Maie, née Ryan (1892–1983), from a prominent Victorian family, shared his dynastic pride and her An Australian Story (1962) covers four generations of Ryans. Among other literary works, she also edited Early Melbourne Architecture (1953). There is a biography of Richard Casey by W. J. Hudson (1986) and one of Maie by Diane Langmore (1997).

Stuart Macintyre