Gubbins, Sir Charles Decimus O'Grady (1855–1911), medical doctor and parliamentarian, was born 23 May 1855 in Ballingarry, Co. Limerick, son of the Rev. George Gubbins and Dorothea Gubbins (née Purdon). He was educated in Tipperary and at TCD, where he graduated MB and Ch.B. (1878). With the outbreak of the Anglo–Zulu war in the following year, the war office attached him to the 17th Lancers in Natal under Lord Chelmsford's command. After the defeat of the Zulus he was appointed district surgeon in Newcastle, Natal, covering a large area of the region. He organised the base hospital during the Anglo–Transvaal war of 1880–81. He also served in the South African war (1899–1902), during which he was elected for Newcastle to the Natal legislative assembly, which seat he held until the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Joining the cabinet of the prime minister Sir Frederick Moor after 1906, he was appointed colonial secretary, responsible for annual budgets. As minister of education, he moved the legislation creating a Natal university college, and improved considerably salaries and educational standards in the public service. He was a member of the Natal Railways Board, and played a leading role, following his compatriot and fellow TCD alumnus, Sir Albert Hime (qv), in developing the port of Durban. This was a crucial formative decade in the creation of the new dominion and the terms of Natal's accession, which took place against a background of the particularly vicious suppression of an insurgency in Zululand.
During the negotiations leading to the creation of the Union of South Africa, Gubbins became a strong advocate of a federal system and attended several inter-colonial conferences, including the National Convention. He deputised for Sir Frederick Moor as prime minister and minister of native affairs while the latter attended the National Convention, which he himself attended as a delegate for Natal in 1910. He was knighted in the same year, and as a member of the senate joined the first cabinet of the Union of South Africa under Gen. Louis Botha as minister without portfolio. An astute politician rather than a statesman, he was generally regarded as a parliamentarian of limited ambition. He died 7 December 1911 at Newcastle, Natal.
He married (1880) Maud Bradstreet (née Scoble) and was survived by two daughters.