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Wesley Orwell (Joan of What?)

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The Right Honourable
Sir Wesley Orwell
Chancellor Orwell in 1926
24th Chancellor of the Empire of Cygnia
In office
9 October 1923 – 2 June 1933
Monarch Theodore III
Theodore IV
Deputy James Cornwall
Preceded by Benjamin Patterson
Succeeded by Franklin J. Heller
26th Vice Chancellor of Cygnia
In office
6 February 1917 – 9 October 1923
Chancellor Benjamin Patterson
Preceded by Christian Cook
Succeeded by James Cornwall
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
In office
23 January 1913 – 23 January 1917
Leader James Baker
Preceded by Oliver Creston
Succeeded by Walter O'Malley
Personal details
Born 19 January 1879
Empire of Cygnia
Died 15 June 1933 (age 54)
Fremantle Prison, Swanstone,
Political party National Unity Party
Spouse(s) Caroline Sinclair
Children Clementine Orwell
Wesley Orwell III
Alma mater Cygnian Imperial University
Religion Church of Australia

Sir Wesley David Orwell, Jr. CG (19 January 1879 – 15 June 1933) was a Cygnian statesman of the National Unity Party who served between 1926 and 1933 as the 24th and last Chancellor of the Empire of Cygnia under Emperor Theodore IV.

Orwell first entered politics at the age of 26 in 1905, registering in the National Unity Party. He stood for election the next year in 1906, campaigning for the seat of his hometown, Alexandria, located in District 84. His stance on education reform and public transport gained him significant support in his District and beyond, and he quickly advanced in the party. He became Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly in 1914. He was chosen as Cancellarial hopeful Benjamin Patterson's running mate, and became Vice Chancellor after a National Unity victory in the 1916 election.

In 1923, Chancellor Patterson died suddenly three years into his second term, and as Vice Chancellor Orwell succeeded him as interim Chancellor. In his first year as Chancellor, Orwell introduced his long-promised educational reforms, culminating in the establishment of the National Educational Standards Authority, which survives to this day as the School Curriculum and Standards Authority. His efforts to also centralise the NUP's ideology increased his appeal with the masses, and as a result the NUP won by a significant majority in the 1924 federal elections, awarding him the Chancellorship in his own right. He was formally sworn in as the 24th Chancellor on 3 February 1925.

His tenure as Chancellor was characterised by enthusiastic support of scientific organisations. His popularity soared in 1927 when he announced the creation of the Orwell Research Fund, and that part of his salary would be diverted to the Fund to assist scientific research. As a result, he gained electoral support from the intelligentsia in the 1928 election, voting him in for a second term. He was also awarded Companionship in the Order of St George by the Emperor for his charity.

The late 1920s saw the rise of the National Cygnian Socialist Party under Marshal Franklin J. Heller, the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Armed Forces. Calls by Orwell for Heller to cease his increasingly erratic behaviour went ignored, and the Marshal continued to grow in strength in the military, finally climaxing on May 3, 1933 with the murder of the Imperial Family. In response, Chancellor Orwell declared a state of emergency, delivering a speech to Congress in the evening of May 3 that "the monsters who so spitefully robbed the lives of Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress – and of their dear children and aides – shall be brought to justice for their treasonous crimes." As a result of the declaration, martial law came into effect, and police officers were ordered to detain any suspects without trial or due process. This decision is seen by historians as a fatal mistake on the part of the panicked Chancellor.

Marshal Heller, anticipating this move, fabricated evidence and then accused Orwell and his deputy James Cornwall of treason and conspiracy, and ordered his arrest on May 18. Soldiers under the command of Heller raided the Chancellery in the early morning of May 19, and arrested Orwell. He was detained in Fremantle Prison. His wife, Caroline, and children, Clementine and Wesley III, aged 13 and 10 respectively, were also arrested and incarcerated in separate cells. Orwell was stripped of his Chancellorship on May 20; the title was transferred to Heller, who also named himself President of the Imperial Regency Council.

The Orwell family were tried together by the Emergency Tribunal for Crimes Against the State and Person of the Emperor, convened by Marshal Heller in his capacity as Regency President. It was presided by General William Hughes, and was designed to appear as a legitimate trial. However, almost all the evidence – which the authorities claimed were raided from the Chancellery on May 19 – was fabricated, and it is generally agreed by historians and legal experts that any evidence that was genuine was taken out of context and manipulated for use in the trial. Orwell and his family were charged and then convicted of mass murder and conspiracy to overthrow the Empire; ex-Vice Chancellor Cornwall was also convicted of plotting to assassinate the Emperor. All five were publicly executed by firing squad on June 15, after the sentence was handed down on June 8. They were denied the right to appeal the sentence.

Sir Wesley Orwell is considered to be the first victim of the Socialist regime, and is remembered today as one of the best Chancellors in Cygnian history. A statue of him and his young family was erected in Independence Square outside the Chancellery in 1983, where they were executed 50 years earlier.

Titles and honours

  • 1928: Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of St George (revoked 1933; restored posthumously 1943)

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