Sir Humphrey Gibbs; Britain's Last Governor of Rhodesia

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the former governor of Rhodesia who became a weary holdout for the British crown, staying in place in his rambling mansion after the white-minority government declared independence in 1965, has died.

His family said Wednesday that he died Thursday at 87 from the complications of influenza.

Gibbs, born in London, settled in Rhodesia as a farmer in 1928.

Appointed governor of the British colony by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959, he served for 10 years, the last four as a recluse in Government House after he tried unsuccessfully to fire the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ian D. Smith over the independence rebellion against the British crown.

Gibbs steadfastly supported Britain's contention that the 1965 declaration to entrench white rule was illegal.

Smith retaliated by appointing his own representative to the Queen, ordered the media to stop referring to Gibbs as governor and cut off electricity, water and telephones to Government House.

But Smith did not eject the defiant governor, evidently fearing retribution from Britain if the rebellion failed. Black and white Rhodesians sent money to pay for the upkeep of the sprawling stucco building with its ornate Cape Dutch gables and extensive gardens.

The Cabinet, meanwhile, continued to pledge loyalty to the British monarch until 1969, when it decided to transform Rhodesia into a republic.

Gibbs resigned his post, returned briefly to a hero's welcome in Britain and then retired to his 6,500-acre farm in Rhodesia, where he lived alone.

A Smith administrator, Clifford Dupont, moved into Government House but was never recognized by the British government or the Queen.

Gibbs was a guest of honor when Robert Mugabe led Rhodesia to independence as Zimbabwe in 1980 after waging a seven-year guerrilla war.

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