The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Mr. Charles Johnson Pharazyn
Mr. Charles Johnson Pharazyn, who is the oldest of the more prominent founders of Wellington still living, was born on the 11th of October, 1802, and is therefore, at the time of writing, well into his ninety-fourth year. His father, Mr. Henry William Pharazyn, was a merchant in London, and died young, leaving his son, the subject of this notice, to the care of an elder brother, who also died at an early age. Educated at a private academy in London, young Pharazyn accepted a situation at “Lloyds,” and afterwards entered into partnership with an uncle in the business of insurance broker. On the 24th of May, 1841, Mr. Pharazyn landed in Wellington with his wife and three children from the ship “Jane,” with five shillings in his pocket, all his property having been pledged at Rio Janeiro, where the vessel put in for repairs, as Collateral Security in a Bottomry Bond in which the manager of the Bank declined to act; but he held possession of Mr. Pharazyn's property, which was only recovered by an action at law. On bringing an action against the bank on whom rested the responsibility, the illegality of the claim was upheld, and Mr. Pharazyn got his goods back and upwards of £600 as damages. Putting his pride in his pocket, he went into business in the embryo capital as a storekeeper. All who had the money to do so, kept stores in those days, and Mr. Pharazyn made up his mind to be one of the number. He was robbed several times by Maoris and Europeans—on one occasion an entrance being effected by means of a hole cut in the roof. When the money which the settlers had brought with them began to get very scarce, and trade consequently became very dull, Mr. Pharazyn entertained serious thoughts of taking to the country, and after the lapse of half a century he well remembers the incident that decided him. A little girl went into his store and asked for a “quarter of a pound of salt pork, and mother wants the fat well mixed with the lean.” That was too large an order for the erstwhile insurance broker, who gave the girl the first lump that came to hand, saying, “tell your mother to take it out of that and not to send you here any more, as I have done with storekeeping.” That was Mr. Pharazyn's last customer. As soon as he could arrange matters he went to Palliser Bay, the shores of which he had leased for the sum of £12 per year. Here, in conjunction with the late Sir W. Fitzherbert, he soon had 500 sheep on 5000 acres of land, and did exceedingly well. After a trip to England for the purpose of settling up with his old partner there, Mr. Pharazyn returned and joined Mr. (afterwards the Hon.) John Johnston, the late well-known merchant, but severed his connection after a few prosperous years. Mr. Pharazyn then went into partnership with Mr. Levin, sen., for a short time, during which he did still better. In 1871 Mr. Pharazyn retired, having a few years before visited England a second time. In 1869 Sir Edward Stafford asked Mr. Pharazyn to accept a seat in the Legislative Council, which position he held from the 17th of June in that year till the 17th of March, 1885, when he retired from the Council, and his son, the Hon. Robert Pharazyn, was appointed to that honoarable position. Since then Mr. Pharazyn has lived an exceedingly quiet life. He is still able to walk into town, and takes his cold bath every morning, to which latter fact he attributes his wonderfully good health.