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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]

Mr. William Benoni Parker

Mr. William Benoni Parker , J.P., was born on the 30th of April, 1837, at Greenwich, London, England, and is the youngest son of the first family of the late Mr. Edward Stone Parker, who went to Victoria, Australia, in the year 1838, as Native Protector, under appointment by the British Government. He was educated by a tutor, and subsequently at the Melbourne Grammar School. Mr. Parker was then brought up as a stockdealer, and in 1861 came to Otago, New Zealand, in charge of a large shipment of sheep for Messrs Cook
Macey, photo.Mr. W. B. Parker.

Macey, photo.
Mr. W. B. Parker.

Brothers, of Melbourne and Dunedin. He landed at Port Chalmers, and drove the flock to Lawrence, where it was disposed of. He then took charge page 368 of Mr. William Cook's store in Wetherstones, for a time, and, later, returned to Dunedin, where he met his brother, who had also come over from Australia. At that time, the great Dunstan (Hartley and Riley) rush took place, when Dunedin was practically deserted for a short while; and Messrs Parker Brothers made up a party, and started from Blueskin for the Dunstan, via Shag Valley, about a week after the rush commenced. On the third day of their journey they met the first contingent of returning Dunedin residents, who had recovered from the gold fever before reaching the gold-fields. In May of the following year, the Parker Brothers set out to ride overland to Nelson, with the intention of prospecting, as they heard good reports of the auriferous nature of the province from local residents. During a short halt, in a then untrodden spot near Naseby, they accidentally discovered auriferous gold in a small creek, known since as the Hogburn, and decided to prospect the district. After prospecting for a week or so, and finding good payable gold, Mr. W. B. Parker and another of the party rode to the Dunstan (a distance of about fifty miles), reported the find to the Warden, and applied for a prospecting claim. This caused a great rush to the locality, and within forty-eight hours there were over 2000 diggers on the field; in the space of a few days the famous Hogburn diggings were in full swing. Messrs Parker Brothers remained on the field and in its neighbourhood for over a year, and during that time they formed a company with a capital of several thousands to construct a water race to the nearest stream—the Eweburn — for sluicing purposes. Mr. R. W. Parker was the manager of the company. In the autumn of 1864, when the returns from the Hogburn were rapidly diminishing, the Wakamarina rush set in, and Mr. W. B. Parker, together with several others (including a woman), rode overland to Blenheim, where Mr. Parker settled. His brother joined him about six months later, and in 1865 they entered into business conjointly on Grove Road, as general store-keepers, butchers, stockdealers, and farmers, and for nearly twenty years traded successfully under the style of Messrs R. and W. Parker. In 1883, they dissolved partnership; the senior partner took over the general store, and Mr. W. B. Parker has since been engaged in stock dealing, butchering, and farming. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Association, was for two years its honorary secretary, and has several times been an executive officer. He has been a member of the Marlborough Education Board almost continuously since its inception, was for sixteen years a borough councillor, is a member of the Marlborough County Council, the Marlborough School Commissioners, the High School Board of Governors, the Omaka Road Board, Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and the Blenheim Cemetery Board, of which he is chairman. Mr. Parker is senior circuit steward in the local Wesleyan church, and is an advocate of No Licence in the province. He married Miss Gifford, a daughter of the late Mr. Isaac Gifford, of Spring Creek, in the year 1873, and has five sons, the eldest of whom, Mr. E. S. Parker, is further referred to as a business man in Blenheim, and as Captain of the Blenheim Rifle Volunteer Corps.