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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Mr. Charles Edward Button

Mr. Charles Edward Button, one of the representatives of the Auckland City in the twelfth Parliament (1894–6), was also a member of the sixth Parliament, on that occasion representing Hokitika. Born in Launceston in 1838, he is the seventh son of the late Mr. Button, who arrived in Tasmania in 1833, and was elected at the head of the poll to a seat on the first municipal council. His uncle, the late Hon. W. Button, was the first mayor of Launceston. The subject of this notice was educated at the High School, Hobart, and was articled to Messrs. Douglass, Dawes and Miller, solicitors, of Launceston. The first-named of these gentlemen, Mr. Douglass, afterwards became known as Premier and Agent General of Tasmania. On completing his articles, Mr. Button practised on his own account for a short time in his native town, but came to this Colony in 1863, settling at Invereargill; here he soon made a name for himself, winning golden opinions from the Bench, respect from the Bar, and popularity from the public. Leaving Invereargill in 1865, he went to Hokitika. His first partner was Mr. W. S. Reid, the present Solicitor-General, and the success which had attended his efforts from the start soon became phenomenal. During his West Coast career, Mr. Button was looked up to as the “best authority on mining law in the Colony.” In 1868 he was elected to a seat on the Westland County Council, and about the same time was chosen for the Mayoral Chair of Hokitika. As a member of the County Council, Mr. Button was very useful in frustrating two or three barefaced attempts at political jobbery. A few years later he was induced to stand for Parliament. Notwithstanding his success at the poll, he resigned after the second session (1877), rather than continue page 111 the representative of a constituency which favoured a party he felt bound to oppose. Mr. Button went to Christchurch in 1880, practising there for some two or three years, when he joined the firm of Messrs. Whitaker and Russell, the well-known barristers and solicitors, of Auckland. Of Mr. Button's present firm, Messrs. Buddle, Button and Co., particulars are given under the heading “Legal,” also on page 473 of the Wellington Volume of the “Cyclopedia.” Mr. Button has given lectures on scientific and general subjects for nearly forty years, chemistry and electricity being his favourite subjects. As early as 1863 he lectured and gave experiments on voltaic electricity, attracting large audiences, and delighting them with a brilliant electric light in those “dark” days. In church matters, Mr. Button has always taken an active part. Though generally adhering to the Congregational denomination, he has filled the offices of elder in the Presbyterian Church, Hokitika, and at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Christchurch, and was leader of the choir at Hokitika, under Bishop Harper. Though not now actively attached to any church. Mr. Button is a liberal supporter of all. In Auckland he has devoted himself almost exclusively to the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, and gives Sunday afternoon lectures in the fine hall of that society. Though not anxious to return to parliamentary duties, Mr. Button allowed himself to be nominated for Auckland City at the general election of 1896, but was defeated, although he polled over 4000 votes. In 1862 Mr. Button was married to the daughter of Mr. Henry Cowell, of Cullenswood, Tasmania, and has a daughter and a son, the latter being engaged in farming at Birkenhead.