Freeman Freeman-Thomas, Ist Marquess of Willingdon (1866-1941) was distinguished liberal politician and administrator. He was Governor General of Canada and Viceroy and Governor General of India. Earlier, he was Governor of Bombay and Madras.
Lord Willingdon was a sportive person and a good cricketer. On his death, the British parliament observed, “Few of those who came in contact with him can have failed to be struck by his extraordinary charm. Undoubtedly his character had tremendous reserves of strength. His responsibilities were taken up in very difficult times, but the difficulties which he had to face were very generally resolved by his gifts of humour and charm”.
Lord Willingdon presided over the celebrations of the Centenary of Ooty on June 1 1923. He and Lady Willingdon opened a plaque and planted two oak trees at Stonehouse. To mark the event, a Town Hall (Assembly Rooms) was opened and electricity was switched on to the town. The Nilgiri Library and St. Stephens Church were the first to be electrified. While replying to the addresses presented to him, the Governor said,‘I can claim without fear of contradiction , I speak with some experience of Hill stations in this country, that she well deserved the name of the Queen of Hill Stations’ and concluded, ‘ we express the hope that 100 years hence when my successor in the Governorship of Madras is engaged in a similar task when celebrating the second century , my wife and I may be here in spirit and find that recollection of our humble efforts while living amongst you are still remembered at Ootacamund’