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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Mr. George Didsbury

Mr. George Didsbury, who was for 29 years Government Printer at Wellington, was born in Windsor, New South Wales in 1839. When an infant, Mr. Didsbury came with his parents to Kororareka, Bay of Islands, where his father held several official positions. When the rebel chiefs, Hone Heke and Kawiti, raided that township, the Didsburys flew with others to H.M.S. “Hazard” for safety, and that vessel brought them to Auckland. Here Mr. George Didsbury was educated, and subsequently learned his trade. He was apprenticed to Messrs. Williamson and Wilson, New Zealander office, and very early in his career he was entrusted with the printing of Government documents, then printed at that office. When the Mr. George Didsbury page 768 Government printing contract went to the Southern Cross office, in 1861, Mr. Didsbury was placed in charge of that department, which he superintended till the Government erected their own plant. Mr Didsbury was then appointed second in command; and when Wellington became the seat of Government, and the Government Printing Office became permanently established there, Mr. Didsbury, at the age of twenty-six, became Government Printer. That he held that office for twenty-nine years, until his death, is the strongest testimony to his fitness for so important a post. The first Government Printing Office was a very small and inconvenient place. The next place occupied was burned down in 1891, it being succeeded by the present commodious premises. During the twenty-nine years of his service, Mr. Didsbury built for himself his monument—Blue Books, Hansard, statistics, official publications of all sorts. They are piled up in every office and every library, public and private, throughout the land; they are to be seen in other countries, too; and on each one occurs the monumental inscription, “George Didsbury, Government Printer, Wellington.” In the multiplicity of business, Mr. Didsbury found time to attend to other matters. He was a director of the Gear Meat Company and the Palmerston North Gas Company. He was popular in local pastimes, and a member of the Wellington Bowling Club. As a vestryman, churchwarden, and nominator, he was one of the most valued office-bearers of St. Peter's Church. He was also a Justice of the Peace. Mr. Didsbury was twice married. His second wife, who survives him, was the second daughter of Mr. Henry Holmden, one of Auckland's earliest settlers. The family consists of five sons and two daughters. Mr. Didsbury died on the 20th of April 1893.