William Charles Arcedeckne Vanneck Huntingfield was born in 1883 at Lake Clarendon Station, Gatton, Queensland. He was the eldest son of an English grazier and an Australian-born mother. He was educated at The Downs School, Toowomba, and in 1898-1900 attended the Wellington College, Berckshire. He joined the 13th Hussars, stationed in India, in 1906. In 1912 he married Margaret Eleanor in London. He was invalided to England from India in 1914, and spent World War I with a reserve regiment. He resigned from the army in 1921 with the rank of captain.

In 1915 Vanneck succeeded his uncle as Baron Huntingfield, an Irish title. In 1923 he was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative member. He became parliamentary private secretary to the under-secretary for state for the Home Department (1926-27) and to the president of the Board of Trade (1927-28). Ill health prevented him from standing for the 1929 election.

In 1933 he was appointed Governor of Victoria - the first native-born State governor. He arrived in Melbourne in May 1934, accompanied by his wife and younger children. He was articulate, worldly, spoke French and German and was a good sportsman, and had the good fortune to preside over Victoria's centennial celebrations and the visit of the Duke of Gloucester. These factors concealed disharmonies which surfaced in March 1935 with the fall of the Argyle ministry. He was criticized for his delay in commissioning the Country Party leader to form a minority government. However, he and his wife carried out their duties with an appealing mixture of dignity and friendliness which won them allies. They toured towns and shires extensively, and Lady Huntingfield's social work was later acknowledged in the establishment of a scholarship in her name at the University of Melbourne.

As war approached again Huntingfield advocated national and Imperial unity, and involved himself in the Royal Australian Air Force. He acted as Governor-General for six months in 1938. His term expired in March 1939. He was the last British peer to serve as governor of the State.

His wife died in 1943, and in 1944 Huntingfield married Muriel Mary Georgina Newton Duke, herself a widow. She died in 1953. He lived on until 20 November 1969, dying at Hove, Sussex. He was survived by two sons and two daughters.

Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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