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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Mr. Jacob Joseph

Mr. Jacob Joseph has a very strong claim to be included in the list of prominent colonists. He has passed over half a century in Wellington, has taken part in almost everyventure for the development of the district, and is one of the largest property-owners in the Colony. Mr. Joseph was born in London on the 13th of December, 1819, and was educated in the Metropolis. When he was fifteen he left with his parents for Sydney, per ship “John Craig.” Here he stayed till 1842, when his history in this Colony began. Almost immediately Mr. Joseph joined Mr. Samuel (father of Mr. Samuel, now so well known in Wellington), under the style of Samuel and Joseph, general merchants. After some ten or twelve successful years, Mr. Joseph took a trip Home; but the somewhat page 769 sudden death of his partner considerably hastened his return. In 1862 Mr. Joseph Nathan was admitted to a partnership, which lasted till 1872 under the style of Jacob Joseph and Co. The first brick warehouse in Wellington was built by Mr. Joseph. It was not erected till after the heavy earthquakes of 1855, and it was deemed advisable to make the walls nearly thirty inches thick. There have been a good many more shocks since its erection, but it remains—a fine solid structure. It is at present occupied by Messrs. Edward Reeves and Co. The last warehouse which Mr. Joseph built for his own firm is the tallest building in Wellington, being of five lofty stories. On his retirement from business it was occupied by Messrs. Harcourt and Co. for some years, and is at present well known as the warehouse of the New Zealand Drug Company. It was erected by Mr. Thomas Turnbull, the architect, and a picture of it is given in connection with that gentleman's article. The subject of this sketch has had throughout a most prosperous career. There is no important street in the city in which he has not more or less of freehold property. In Willis Street Mr. Joseph is represented by Messrs. Myers and Son' large brick warehouse, and the three adjoining shops; in Victoria Street by the three-story brick warehouse of Messrs. Myers and Son, and the still larger building of Messrs. Birnbaum and Son; in Lambton Quay by the Drug Company's building and three or four shops and warehouses adjoining; by a row of shops near the Bank of New Zealand, and by the premises of Messrs. Hill and Sons, hatters; in Cuba Street by the Star and Garter Hotel and others; in Molesworth Street by several shops and houses; in Hobson Street by his own beautiful home, and in many other parts by landed properties of all kinds. Mr Joseph is to some extent interested in shipping, being part owner of the steamers “Stormbird” and “Huia.” His suburban and country properties include a half share with the widow of the late Mr. J. F. E. Wright in the Island Bay Estate of some six thousand acres; an estate at Dry River, in the Wairarapa, of eighteen thousand acres, stocked with as many sheep and 1400 head of cattle; a station called “The Knoll,” between Featherston and Martinborough, of two thousand acres, also well stocked; and the Island Bay Park and Racecourse. Mr. Joseph was made a J.P. about forty years ago, but resigned the office during recent years. From all politics he has entirely abstained. Mr. Joseph was one of the promoters of the Colonial Insurance Company, now merged into the Commercial Union Assurance Company, of which he is a director. His family numbers four—one son (Mr. Joseph Joseph), and three daughters, the eldest of whom is married to Mr. Walter Nathan, of Wellington.