The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]
Late Auckland Legislative Councillors
Late Auckland Legislative Councillors.
The Act which gave to this Colony representative government was passed in the Imperial Parliament in the year 1852, and provided for three branches of the Legislature. The first branch—the Governor was to be appointed by the Crown; the second—the Legislative Council, was to be nominated by the Governor, which, of course, meant by the Executive Council of responsible Ministers, presided over by the Governor; and the third—the House of Representatives, was to be elected by the people. Provincial Councils were also provided for in the Constitution Act. The two men in New Zealand who had most to do with the framing of the Constitution were Sir George Grey and Mr. Edward Gibbon Wakefield; and yet, though these two were probably the cleverest men who ever set foot on New Zealand soil, the result of their genius, as exhibited in the Constitution, was not a marvel of completeness; for when it came to be tried on it was found to be rather an ill-fitting vestment. Still, with the exception of the abolition of the Provinces, the changes in the Constitution have not been great, though further modifications, intimately connected with the Legislative Council, are occasionally mooted.
When the Constitution was passed in 1852, the population of Colony numbered about 27,000; and when, during the following year, it became necessary to elect six Provincial Councils and a House of Representatives there were probably not more than 16,000 males in the whole Colony. Even in those days nearly half of the males would be children, and of the adults not more than six or seven thousand, at the outside, would be qualified to vote. In view of these figures, Constitutional Government cannot be said to have arrived very late in the day. It would be safe to say that, on an average, one man in every fifty was either a Legislative Councillor, a member of the House, or a Provincial Councillor.
The first session of the Legislative Council was opened on the 24th of May, 1854, and the first members were appointed by the Acting-Governor, Colonel R. H. Wynyard. There were sixteen members, of whom Auckland had six; five were from other parts of the North Island, and the whole of the South Island contributed five. The Auckland members were: The Hon. William Swainson, F. Whitaker, T. H. Bartley, J. A. Gilfillan, W. W. Kenny, and John Salmon.
Until 1891, the Legislative Council had no power to elect its own Speaker; and though the Hon. Mr. Swainson still held the office of Attorney-General direct from the Crown, he was appointed Speaker of the Council. During the following year, however, the dual position was found to be incompatible, and Mr. (afterwards Sir) Frederick Whitaker was appointed to the office. When in turn Mr. Whitaker became Attorney-General in 1856, he also retired, and Mr. T. H. Bartley was appointed Speaker. Thus Auckland supplied the first three Speakers of the Upper House.
If Aucklanders had excessive representation on the Council when members were appointed by the Governor before the days of responsible Ministries, the disproportion was still greater for some time thereafter, for in 1856 the number of Councillors had declined to thirteen, while, by the addition of Sir Samuel Osborne Gibbes in 1855, the Auckland members constituted a clear majority. Three of the other six Councillors were from Nelson, and one from Taranaki, Canterbury and Otago, respectively, and during the session the Otago member resigned. By the next session, in 1858, there being none in the previous year, the number was made up to nineteen, and Auckland's number was increaed to nine by the appointment of Chief-Justice Arney and Colonel Wynyard. The latter, however, resigned in 1860, reducing the Council to eighteen, of whom the remainder of the North Island contributed four and the South Island six. The next session saw three more Councillors added, two of whom—the Hon. Dr. Pollen and Henry Sewell—were Auckland men.
From this point Auckland's supremacy in the Legislative Council waned rapidly. By the session of 1863, when Mr. Domett's fateful motions regarding the removal of the seat of Government were passed in the Lower House, Auckland's power in the Upper House was but ten out of twenty-nine; for the addition during that year of the Hon. Henry Walton was balanced by the resignation of Sir S. O. Gibbes, and during next session Mr. Whitaker resigned. In 1865, the session following the actual removal of Government, the roll of Councillors consisted of thirty-five members, though Auckland's number had declined to nine through the resignation of the Hon. H. Sewell. By the next session the Chief-Justice and Messrs J. A. Gilfillan and H. Walton had resigned; but the appointment of the Hon. Ponsonby Peacocke made Auckland's number up to six—the smallest since the first session when the total membership was smaller by more than half. In 1868 a further reduction was made by the vacation by absence of the seats of Messrs W. Swainson and John Salmon. During that year the Hon. Major Richardson, of Otago, was appointed Speaker in succession to the Hon. T. H. Bartley.
While Auckland's numbers were being reduced the total was rapidly increasing. By 1869 the roll embraced forty-one members, but during this year the representatives of Auckland were doubled in number by the appointment of the Hon. Henry Chamberlin, F. D. Fenton, James O'Neill, and C. J. Taylor. In 1870 the Hon. James Williamson was added, making nine members for Auckland out of a total of forty-seven. The numbers for the other provinces were: Wellington, nine; Otago, nine; Canterbury, page 92 five; Nelson, four; Hawke's Bay, four; Southland, three; Taranaki, one; and Westland, one. By 1871 the names of Dr. Pollen and Judge Fenton were omitted from the list; but the Hon. James Farmer was added. In the following session the number of Auckland members declined to six by the resignation of Mr. O'Neill, and the death of Mr. Ponsonby Peacocke; but the appointment of the Hon. Randall Johnston raised it to seven. The appointment in 1873 of the Hon. Mokena Kohere, and the re-appointment of the Hon. Dr. Pollen increased the number to nine. In the following session Mr. Bartley's seat was vacated by absence; but the Hon. Every McLean was appointed to the vacancy. During this year Mr. James Farmer resigned; and in 1876 Mr. Every McLean's seat was vacated by absence, which reduced Auckland's numbers to seven. Two years later Mr. C. J. Taylor's seat became similarly vacant, and Auckland's numbers declined to six; for though the Hon. Thomas Henderson was appointed in that year, the Hon. Randall Johnston removed to Wellington.
The roll of Councillors in 1879 embraced forty-nine members allocated provincially as follows: Auckland, by the addition of the Hon. P. Dignan, seven; Wellington, eleven; Canterbury, eight; Otago, eleven; Nelson, four; Hawke's Bay, four; Taranaki, one; Marlborough, one; and Westland, two. During this year Sir William Fitzherbert, of Wellington, was appointed Speaker, in place of Sir J. L. Cheese Richardson.
The re-appointment of Mr. Whitaker in 1880, and the death during the same year of Colonel Kenny, one of the earliest Councillors, after thirty-seven years' service, left the number unaltered. In the following year, however, the Hon. Henry Williams, who is still a member, was appointed. The year 1885 saw the largest Council which the colony has ever had, for at that time there were fifty-four members, the appointment of the Hon. G. B. Morris and W. Swanson, making a total of ten members for Auckland — the number that, in days of yore, the Northern Province had in a Council of twenty-one. The death of Mr. Thomas Henderson in 1886, the resignation of Mr. Kohere early in 1887, and the death of Messrs Chamberlin and James Williamson in 1888, made serious reductions in the number of Auckland's members though Mr. Kohere's seat was filled by the appointment of the Hon. Major Ropata Wahawaha.
With the exception of a short temporary absence, during which the Hon. G. M. Waterhouse acted as Speaker of the Council, Sir William Fitzherbert held the Speakership from the 14th of June, 1879, until the 23rd of January, 1891, when he died, and was succeeded by Sir Harry Atkinson. Sir Harry, however, had a lamentably short rule, for he died on the 28th of June, 1892, within a few minutes of his leaving the chair, on the adjournment of the Council as a mark of respect to the memory of Sir Frederick Whitaker and others who had passed away during the recess. The present Speaker, the Hon. H. J. Miller, was elected to the Speakership. He was the first and, so far, is the only Speaker elected to the position, all previous holders of the office having been appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The Act of 1891, which altered the constitution of the Council by fixing the term of subsequent appointees at seven years, conferred on the Council the privilege of electing its Speaker, and fixed the duration of the office at five years. At the end of his first term, Mr. Miller was re-elected.
The appointment to the Council, of the Hon. J. B. Whyte in 1891, and of the Hon. W. T. Jennings and William McCullough in 1892, gave Auckland a total of nine members. By the session of 1895, however, it had been reduced by the death of Mr. Peter Dignan, and still further in the following year by the death of Dr. Pollen. In 1897 Major Ropata died and Mr. J. B. Whyte's name disappeared from the list; but these losses were balanced by the appointment of the Hon. Benjamin Harris and William Kelly, who are still members of the Council. The Hon. W. McCullough vacated his seat by effluxion of time on the 15th of October, 1899, and was not re-appointed, but on the 21st of December following, the Hon. A. J. Cadman, formerly Minister of Railways, was called to a seat in the Council.
On the thirty-four persons who have been appointed to sit in the Legislative Council as representing the province of Auckland, twenty-seven appear on the list of late Councillors. They were all appointed for life, except Mr McCullough, yet only nine held the office for life, and two of the nine had resigned and been re-appointed. Three sat for fifteen years, one for sixteen, one for eighteen, one for seven, two for nineteen, one for twenty-three, one for twenty-seven, and one (Dr. Pollen), for thirty-three years, though not continuously.
Of Auckland's late Councillors, several had held high positions in the service of the state. Colonel Wynyard had, prior to his appointment to the Council, been Commander of the Forces, Lieutenant-Governor of New Ulster, Administrator of the Government (for nearly two trying years), and Superintendent of the Province of Auckland. Sir George Arney was, at the time of his Councillorship, Chief Justice, and the Hon. W. Swainson was, for nearly fifteen years, Attorney-General under appointment by the Crown, and was afterwards a member of the Grey Cabinet. The Hon. Henry Sewell, Dr. Pollen and Sir Frederick Whitaker each held the Premiership and many other important positions in various Ministries; and Mr. Thomas Henderson was a member of the Executive in the second Fox Ministry.
The Hon. Colonel William Henry Kenny was called to the Legislative Council of New Zealand on the 26th of March, 1853. He came of a race of soldiers. His father, page 93 Major W. Crowe Kenny, carried one of the colours of the 73rd Regiment at the storming of Seringapatam, and his grandfather, Lieut.-Colonel Kenny, of the 11th Regiment, was mortally wounded while leading the storming party at the siege of Gawlighur, where Sir Arthur Wellesley was in command. He himself, when only sixteen years of age, entered the 73rd Regiment in 1828, and served in Canada during the rebellion. In 1847 he brought the first detachment of New Zealand Fencibles to the colony, and, having succeeded to the command of that force in 1849, he was instrumental, two years later, in averting the threatened invasion of Auckland by the Ngatipoua. For his action on that occasion he received the thanks of Governor Sir George Grey and of the commander of the forces, Colonel Wynyard. During the native troubles of 1860–61 he was in command of the garrison of Auckland, and also occupied the same position for some time in 1863, during which year he sold out his regimental position and became Quartermaster-General to the colonial forces under Major-General Galloway. He was afterwards Colonel of the New Zealand Militia, and Inspector of Volunteers for the North Island. Colonel Kenny was one of those who were summoned by His Excellency the Governor in Her Majesty's name to the first General Assembly of New Zealand in pursuance of the Constitution Act, and when he died at Ponsonby, Auckland, on the 17th of August, 1880, he was the oldest member of the Legislative Council.
Hon. Col. W. H. Kenny.
The Hon. John Salmon was one of those who, in 1853, were summoned by the Governor in Her Majesty's name to the first General Assembly of New Zealand. He was therefore one of the first members of the Legislative Council, in which he vacated his seat, through absence, in 1868. Mr. Salmon was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in the year 1808. At the early age of fourteen he was apprenticed to the sea, and served under Captain Talbot, who traded to the East Indies for several years. About 1840 Captain Salmon arrived in Auckland. When a brother, who was in business at the Bay of Islands, died, he succeeded to the business, which he transferred to Auckland, where he pursued the calling of a general merchant for about twenty years, when he retired to Ellerslie. Mr. Salmon was one of the trustees of the Auckland Savings Bank and of the Orphan Home, Parnell. One of his daughters is Mrs W. M. Hall, of Mangere.
Hon. J. Salmon.
Hon. W. Swainson.
Sir Frederick Whitaker, who is mentioned amongst the Superintendents of Auckland, and also in the Wellington volume, as an ex-Premier of the Colony, was a member of the Legislative Council at its inception, and a year later was its Speaker. In 1864, Mr. Whitaker resigned his seat in the Council, but he was re-appointed in 1879, and continued his membership till his death on the 4th of December, 1892. He was knighted in 1884.
The Hon. Thomas Haughton Bartley, who was an original member of the Legislative Council, was a well-known barrister and solicitor. In less than two years he became Speaker of the Council, and held the position for twelve years. He was chosen as an Executive Councillor, and sat in the Executive without portfolio for a short time after the first Parliament met, and before the days of responsible government. He was also Speaker of the Auckland Provincial Council During his stay in Auckland he did much to encourage the development of horticulture, and long afterwards, when his house and grounds at Northcote were purchased by Mr W. G. Jackson, some fine specimens of rare trees and shrubs were found, notwithstanding all the intervening years. In 1873 Mr. Bartley's seat was vacated by absence, he having returned to the Old World.
The Hon. John Anderson Gilfillan was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1854, and resigned in 1861. He was re-called in 1862, and resigned finally in 1866 Mr. Gilfillan was born at Torry, in the parish of Torryburn, Fifeshire, Scotland, on the 19th of September, 1821. His education was completed at the Grammar School of Cullen, Banffshire, and in November, 1837, he left home for Liverpool, there to enter the office of Messrs Briggs, Thorburn, Acraman and Co., merchants, of London, Liverpool, and Calcutta. At the end of a year he was promoted to the London office, and in 1842 he spent his first holiday in Scotland. On returning to London, certain changes in the firm resulted in a greater degree of responsibility and hard work being laid on him, and in 1845 his health broke down; in fact, symptoms of lung disease becoming apparent, he had to give up his position and seek renewed health in Scotland. The summer of 1845 was spent at Banchory on Deeside, and the winter of 1846, at Ventnor, Isle of Wight. No good result following, he was advised by Sir James Clark, physician to the Queen, to try the climate of either Egypt or New Zealand as a last chance of recovering his health. Choosing the latter, he sailed for Wellington, New Zealand, in the barque “Victoria,” Captain Williamson, at the close of 1846. On the vessel arriving in Cook Strait, she was nearly driven ashore by a sudden storm of wind and rain. No entrance to the harbour could be seen, and all were in great alarm, when suddenly, through the gloom, an American whaler dashed past them with the signal, “Follow me” at her masthead, and in a short time they were out of danger. After a short stay in Wellington, Mr. Gilfillan found that, in order to complete business arrangements, his return to London was needful, before finally settling in Auckland, and he was so fortunate as to get a passage home in H.M.S. “Racehorse,” Captain Sotheby. His younger brother, Mr. Robert Gilfillan, had, in the meantime, sailed from London for Auckland in the “Richard Dart,” and in November, 1848, Mr. Gilfillan followed him from London in the barque “Lalla Rookh,” which arrived in Auckland on the 17th of April, 1849. There-upon he and his brother began business as merchants and commission agents. Mr. Gilfillan was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Colony in 1852. The New Zealand Constitution Act was passed by the British Parliament on the 13th of September, 1852, during the Governorship of Sir George Grey, and under that statute Parliamentary Government came into force in the Colony. It was, however, during the subsequent Acting-Governorship of Colonel Wynyard that the first Legislative Council was constituted, and Mr. Gilfillan was one of six Auckland members called by Colonel Wynyard to the Council. He took his seat at the first meeting of Parliament on the 27th of May, 1854. He was also elected one of the first members of the Auckland Provincial Council under the Super-intendency of Colonel R. H. Wynward. In 1858 Mr. Gilfillan was appointed representative in Auckland of Messrs Colman, steamship owners, of Hull, and it was that firm which—after the loss of Auckland's steamship “William Denny,” in 1857—established steam communication between Sydney and New Zealand with its steamships “Lord Ashley,” “Lord Worsley,” “Airedale,” “Claud Hamilton,” and “Prince Alfred.” As Auckland increased in population and importance, a Chamber of Commerce was established, and Mr. Gilfillan was elected its first president, and for many years he continued to take an active part in the political and commercial interests of the province and city. He was a church-warden of St. Paul's Anglican Church for many years under the ministrations of the Rev. J. Churton and the Rev. J. F. Lloyd. The weakness of chest, with which Mr. Gilfillan had been so long afflicted, and which he endured with great fortitude, at length took the form of chronic bronchitis, and, after many months of suffering, he was taken away on the 1st of February, 1875, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. In June, 1852, Mr. Gilfillan married Gertrude Davies, daughter of William Davies, M.D., Provincial Surgeon, and Mrs Gilfillan survived her husband for ten years. The family consisted of five sons and three daughters.
Sir George Arney, who is referred to on page 36 of the Wellington volume, was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1858, and though he also held the Chief Justiceship, he continued to be a Councillor until the session of 1866. He was knighted in 1862, and died in England on the 7th of April, 1883.
Sir. G. Arney.
Colonel R. H. Wynyard, who was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1858, retired from the position two years later. He is elsewhere referred to as the first Superintendent of Auckland.
The Hon. Dr. Pollen, who was for thirty-three years in the Legislative Council, is referred to in the Wellington volume as an ex-Premier.
The Hon. Henry Sewell was called to the Legislative Council in 1861, and resigned in 1865. He is referred to in an article on page 57 of the Wellington volume of this work.
The Hon. Francis Dart Fenton was summoned to the Legislative Council in 1869, but ceased to be a member in 1871. He is referred to in another article as having been Chief Judge of the Native Land Court.
The Hon. James O'Neill was prominently identified with the early history of Auckland. He was born in Manor Hamilton, County Leitrim, Ireland, in 1819, and came to New Zealand when a youth. He was a member of the Auckland Provincial Council, and also a member of the first Parliament of New Zealand. Mr. O'Neill was called to the Upper House in 1869, and resigned in 1872. He was a Justice of the Peace, and assisted in the foundation of some of the leading institutions of Auckland. Mr. O'Neill is referred to in another article as having been a member of the House of Representatives.
Hon. J. O' Neill.
The Hon. Charles John Taylor was the second son of General Taylor, H.E.I.S. Mr. Taylor was for a while in India, where he held a judgeship. On coming to New Zealand he bought land and settled in the Auckland district. He was called to the Legislative Council in 1869, but resigned his seat in 1878, when he and his family went to reside in England.
Hon. J. Williamson.
Hon. J. Farmer.
The Hon. Mokena Kohere was called to the Legislative Council in 1872 and resigned his seat in 1887.
The Hon. Thomas Henderson was intimately associated with the Province of Auckland for over forty years, and was senior partner in the well-known firm of Henderson and Macfarlane. He was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1810, and served his time as an engineer and machine maker. When he arrived in Auckland with his wife, in 1840, not a single house was erected. He built the Commercial Hotel at a cost of £2000, and it was at the time the most pretentious building in Auckland. During Heke's war Mr. Henderson did the colony good service by employing about 300 men in gumdigging and keeping them from joining Heke. The firm of Henderson and Macfarlane owned the Circular Saw line of vessels, which successfully traded to Australia, China and America. Mr. Henderson assisted in establishing the Bank of New Zealand, the Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, the New Zealand Insurance Company and the Auckland Gas Company. He was a member of the Provincial Council for some time, and represented the Northern Division in the General Assembly from 1856 to 1870, and the electoral district of Waitemata from 1871 to 1873. In the Fox Ministry of 1861–62 he was a member of the Executive Council without portfolio. He was called to the Legislative Council in 1878, at the instance of Sir George Grey, and as an old colonist who had served his country he well deserved the honour. Mr. Henderson died at the residence of Mr. George Graham, in Wellington, on Sunday, the 27th of June, 1886.
Hon. P. Dignan.
Hon. W. McCullough.