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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

The Hon. Sir John Hall

The Hon. Sir John Hall, K.C.M.G., Colonial Secretary in the Fox Ministry of 1856, member of the Stafford Government from 1866 to 1869, of the Waterhouse Ministry from 1872 to 1873, and of the Atkinson Administration, 1876, and Premier of the Colony from 1879 to 1882, was born in Hull, Yorkshire, in 1824. He landed at Lyttelton in 1852 from the “Samarang,” the last of the Canterbury Association's ships. Four years later he was appointed Resident Magistrate at Lyttelton and Commissioner of Police, and soon afterwards Resident Magistrate at Christchurch. Mr. Hall was a member of the Provincial Council of Canterbury during nearly the whole period of its existence, and was for a considerable time a member of the Provincial Government. He has always taken an active part in local governing bodies, and has represented several Canterbury constituencies in the House of Representatives. When Mr. Fox became Premier in 1856 he included, as already stated Mr. Hall in his Ministry as Colonial Secretary. In 1862 he was nominated to the Legislative Council, but resigned four years later to contest the seat in the House of Representatives for Heathcote. In the new Parliament Mr. Stafford returned to power, and Mr. Hall accepted the portfolios of Postmaster-General and Commissioner of Telegraphs. During the absence of Mr. Fitzherbert in 1868 he acted as Colonial Treasurer, and in 1872 accepted a seat in the Legislative Council in order to represent the Fox-Vogel Government there. This year saw rapid changes of Government. The Fox-Vogel Government was defeated by the Stafford Government, which in turn was defeated by the Waterhouse Government. Mr. Hall joined the last-mentioned Ministry, but resigned in the following year owing to ill-health. In 1876 he again resigned his seat in the Council, and was elected for Selwyn in the House of Representatives. Having defeated Sir George Grey in 1879, he became Premier, and continued in this office until page 64 1882, when he retired from the Ministry on account of failing health. In the latter year he received the distinction of knighthood. For many years Sir John Hall laboured hard for the enfranchisement of woman, and did more than any other man in Parliament to give The Hon. Sir John Hall effect to this reform. He represented New Zealand with Captain Russell at the first conference on Australian Federation held in Melbourne. Altogether he was in the New Zealand Parliament for nearly forty years, and retired from political life in 1893. Sir John was married in 1861 to Miss Dryden, daughter of Mr. William Dryden, of Hull. His family consisted of two daughters—one of whom survives, and is married to Mr. J. Cracroft Wilson, grandson of Sir Cracroft Wilson—and three sons, two of whom, the eldest, Wilfred, and the youngest, Godfrey, are farming in Canterbury. The second son, John Dryden, is an English barrister presently in practice in Christchurch.