The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
From the date of the constitution of the Borough of Napier to the present time (1906) only seven gentlemen have occupied the Mayoral chair. For length of office the record made by Mr. G. H. Swan exceeds that of any other Mayor in New Zealand. The first Mayor of Napier was Mr. Robert Stuart, who held office from the 19th of January, 1875, to December, 1878. He was succeeded by Mr. J. H. Vautier, who was elected for three consecutive years ending the 29th of May, 1882. Mr. W. I. Spencer next filled the position from the 14th of June, 1882, to December, 1885. Then followed the record term of Mr. G. H. Swan, who was Mayor from the 16th of December, 1885, to April, 1901. During the following year the office was filled by Mr. J. C. McVay. He was succeeded by Mr. F. W. Williams, who occupied the chair for two years. Mr. S. Carnell, the present Mayor, has held office since April, 1904.
Mr. Robert Stuart, the first Mayor of Napier, held office from the 19th of January, 1875, to December, 1878, and was a member, ex officio, of the Hawke's Bay Provincial Council. He unsuccessfully contested the Napier seat in the House of Representatives against Sir Donald McLean, and for some years filled the position of Resident Magistrate at Napier. Mr. Stuart was a Scotchman by birth, and arrived in New Zealand about the year 1850. He settled in the South Island, where he engaged in sheep-farming. Subsequently he retired, and removed to Hawke's Bay, and died in Napier on the 7th of July, 1883, in the fiftieth year of his age.
Dr. William Isaac Spencer, Napier's third Mayor, held office continuously for three years and a half. He was an army surgeon, attached to the 18th Royal Irish Regiment, and came to New Zealand with the troops that took part in the second Maori war. Subsequently, on account of his eminent qualities as a surgeon and physician, he was induced by the people of Napier to resign his commission, and to practise his profession in their town. Dr. Spencer was also a diligent scientist, who kept well abreast of the times in all matters of science, and who gave occasional lectures on scientific subjects. Two of his sons are following their father's profession, and a daughter is the Lady Principal of the Napier Girls' High School. Dr. Spencer died at Napier in the year 1897, at the age of sixty-five years.
Mr. George Henry Swan, who for sixteen consecutive years was Mayor of Napier, is referred to as a former member of the House of Representatives.
Mr. John C. McVay was Mayor of Napier from April, 1901, to April, 1902, and was formerly chairman of the public works committee of the Napier Borough Council. He was born in Auckland, and is the second son of the late Mr. John McVay, one of Auckland's early settlers, who arrived from New South Wales in the year 1841. Mr. McVay was educated at the Rev. John Gorrie's Academy, and was subsequently apprenticed to the saddlery trade. In 1873 he started the business which is now so extensively known, and in which he employs thirty persons. Mr. McVay has been a borough councillor for over twenty years, and was a member of all the standing committees of the Council, and chairman of those on which the Mayor did not sit. For several years he has been an active member of the Napier Harbour Board. Mr. McVay is president, and was formerly vice-president, of the Napier Park Racing Club, and is a director of the Hawke's Bay Permanent Building Society. Few movements for the advancement of the town and district have been inaugurated in which his ready assistance has not been available. He is a Freemason of many years' standing. In 1871 Mr. McVay married Miss Craig, of Belfast.
Mr. Frederic Wanklyn Williams, who was Mayor of Napier from the year 1902 to 1904, and who for several years represented the borough of Napier on the Napier Harbour Board, was born in Poverty Bay in the year 1854, and is the eldest son of the Bishop of Waiapu. Mr. Williams was educated at St. John's College, Auckland, and the Church of England Grammar School, Parnell. In 1873 he entered the mercantile house of Messrs Kinross and Company, general merchants, Napier, and remained with that firm until 1880, when he established himself in the business from which has sprung the important concern of Williams and Kettle, Limited, and of which he is the senior managing director. Mr. Williams is chairman of the Hawke's Bay Permanent Building Society, was a member of the Education Board for some years, and is president of the Napier Chamber of Commerce. In 1883 he married the daughter of Mr. J. B. Brathwaite, of Napier, late manager of the Union Bank of Australia, and has an only son.