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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: a catalogue with indexes

Sir Robert Stout

Sir Robert Stout

The pamphlet collection catalogued in this volume was built up by Sir Robert Stout over a half-century of reading on most topics of concern to the intellectual community of his time. Born in 1844, at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, Robert Stout was the son of a local merchant and landed proprietor. After completing his schooling at Lerwick Academy he became a pupil teacher, passing the examinations at the age of 16 and qualifying at 18. During the same period he qualified as a surveyor. In 1864 he emigrated to Dunedin where he took employment as a school teacher, and helped to found the Otago Schoolmasters' Association, which later became the Otago Educational Institute. In 1867 he decided to study law, entering the office of W. Downie Stewart, and in July 1871 he was admitted barrister and solicitor. He early gained distinction as a notable pleader and trial lawyer. He lectured in law at the newly established Otago University, and also studied 'mental and moral science' and 'political economy' with distinction.

In 1872 he was elected to the Otago Provincial Council to represent Caversham, and in 1875 he was elected to the House of Representatives. His Parliamentary career was often interrupted: Caversham, August to December 1875; Dunedin City, December 1875 to June 1879; Dunedin East, August 1884 to July 1887; Inangahua, June to November 1893; Wellington City, December 1893 to February 1898. Despite these breaks he achieved considerable political distinction, with periods in Cabinet (March 1878 to June 1879; August 1884 to October 1887) holding portfolios which included Attorney-General, Minister of Lands and Minister of Education, and he was Premier in the Stout-Vogel Ministries from August 1884 to October 1887. He was created K.COM.G. in 1886. Although a Liberal he became disenchanted with Seddonian liberalism and retired from Parliament in 1898. A year later he accepted the position of Chief Justice, from which he retired in 1926. He was appointed to the Legislative Council in August 1926 and participated in its debates until 1929. He died in July 1930.

In addition to his political and legal career he was a notable member of the Councils of Otago University (1891-1898) and Victoria University College (1898-1915, 1918-1923) and of the Senate of the University of New Zealand (1884-1923), being Chancellor of the University from 1903 to 1923. He was an ardent campaigner for, and a foundation member of, the New Zealand Alliance, the temperance movement. He was also an active Freemason (until 1891) and a member of the free-thought and rationalist movements. His wife, Anna Paterson Logan (1858-1931), was active in the temperance and feminist movements.