Sir Robert Stout
is a native of Lerwick, Shetland Isles. The Stouts came from Norway over five hundred years ago in a Viking incursion. Olaf Stout is mentioned in the Saga
, where an account of this Viking raid is given. This Olaf was one of the leaders amongst the Vikings. Sir Robert was educated at the parish school, was a dux of the school, became a pupil teacher, and distinguished himself in the examinations. He determined to emigrate, and learned land surveying. He left his native Islands in 1863, at eighteen years of age, and came to Otago early in 1864. He was engaged a few days after landing as second master in the Grammar School, and was afterwards second master in the Stone School, King Street. He then studied law, and was admitted a Barrister page 236
and Solicitor in 1871. He distinguished himself almost at once in a case in the Criminal Court, being junior to Mr. G. Elliott Barton. He addressed the jury, and made a great impression, being complimented by Mr. James. Smith and Judge Chapman. He was soon afterwards elected to the Provincial Council for Caversham, and became Provincial Solicitor in the Reid Executive, was again elected for Caversham. He stood in 1875 for the House of Representatives for Caversham, and was elected defeating Mr. Laruach. In the House he made powerful speeches against the Abolition of the Provinces, and came to the front at once. In 1878 he joined the Grey Ministry as Attorney-General and Minister of Lands and Immigration, the late Mr. Ballance having joined a few months before. They both retired from the Ministry in June, 1879, Sir Robert resigning his seat in the House. Being pressed to stand in 1884 by the late Mr. Macandrew and others who had been his colleagues in 1878-79, he stood for Dunedin East, and was elected. He became Premier, Attorney-General, and Minister of Education in 1884, and held office till the end of 1887. He was defeated in Dunedin East by a small majority. He refused several other seats. Before Mr. Ballance's death he was urged by Mr. Ballance to re-enter the House, and he consented to do so. Inangahua being vacant through Mr. R. J. Reeves' retirement, he contested the seat,' and was elected by a large majority. In 1893 he stood for Wellington, and became the senior member. Since his election he has resided in Wellington, and has an office here.