The Hon. Edward Cephas John Stevens,
M.L.C, who was a Minister in the Atkinson Administration, being a member of the Executive Council from 8th of October, 1887 to 24th of January, 1891, is the youngest son of the late Rev. W. E. Stevens, rector of Salford, Oxfordshire, England. Born on the 18th of October, 1837, and educated at Marlborough College and at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, he came to New Zealand in September, 1858 per ship “Zealandia” to Lyttelton. He is and has been for many years a member of the firm of Harman and Stevens, well known in Christchurch. Mr.
Photo by Kinsey.
Stevens has been prominent in New Zealand political life since the year 1863 when he became a member of the Executive of the Canterbury province during Mr. Bealey's superintendency. He retired three years later on the election of the late Mr. W. S. Moorhouse to that office and offered himself as a candidate for the Selwyn Electorate in the House of Representatives to which he was returned without opposition. At the following general election Mr. Stevens contested the same seat as a Freetrader and opponent of the grain duty, but was defeated though only by a single vote. In 1876 he stood for Christchurch City, and was returned at the head of the poll, his colleagues being the Hon. E. Richardson and Mr. Moorhouse. On the election following the dissolution granted to Sir George Grey's government in 1879 the subject of this notice was again elected for the City of the Plains. The parliament then elected was the last in which the honourable gentleman sat as a member of the Lower House, and at its close he accepted a seat in the Legislative Council, being appointed on the 7th of March, 1882. In the deliberations of this branch of the Legislature he has taken part up to the present time. New Zealand is indebted to Mr. Stevens for originating the Public Trust Act under the authority of which the State becomes responsible through the Public Trustee for the due administration of intestate and other estates and the realization and distribution of
properties under will. The Act was carried through Parliament by Sir Julius Vogel who has on more than one occasion freely acknowledged the obligation. In the days of Provincial Government, Mr. Stevens was an opponent of that system. He has been a consistent advocate of free-trade throughout his parliamentary career. The honourable gentleman was married in 1869 to Maria, widow of the late Henry Whitcombe, C.E., who lost his life by drowning in 1864 in the Teremakau River during his well-known explorations on the West Coast of the Middle Island.