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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

The Hon. Sir William Fitzherbert

page 100

The Hon. Sir William Fitzherbert, K.C.M.G., M.L.C., was elected to the Speaker's Chair of the Legislative Council on the 14th of June, 1879, and was from time to time re-elected speaker till the 23rd of January, 1891. Sir William had been speaker of the House of Representatives for three years before his election to the chair of the Council, and was a member of several Ministries. The subject of this notice was born in 1810. His father was the Rev. Samuel Fitzherbert, of Buckshire House, Dorset. Educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, where he The Hon. Sir William Fitzherbert graduated, B.A. 1832 and M.A. 1836, he was elected a Fellow of the College. After studying medicine he became a Fellow of the Boyal College of Physicians, and practised for some time in Hanover Square, London. Arriving in the Colony in 1842 he was placed at the head of the colonial magistracy in the following year. Sir William joined in the agitation of the early days with the object of securing responsible government. He first sat in the House of Representatives for Wellington in 1856, and afterwards represented the Hutt. In 1871 he was elected Superintendent of the Province of Wellington. After the close of the Maori War the Imperial Government made a demand for one-million-and-a-quarter of money to recoup the expenses incurred in putting down the native rebellion. Sir William Fitzherbert, who was at that time Colonial Treasurer admitted that half-a-million was due, but repudiated the balance entirely. The amount due was fully paid, and Sir William was sent to England to arrange the matter. Personally he protested against the claim and stood out firmly against it. After many interviews with the Duke of Buckingham and other officials, the Imperial Government waived their claim and Sir William was jubilant. After his return he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1876. Three years later he was raised to the Legislative Council, and continued a member till his death in 1891. Sir William was made C.M.G. in 1872 and K.C.M.G. in 1877. He visited England in 1887 to represent New Zealand at the Colonial Conference. In 1890 he was elected a delegate to the Federation Conference, but died in 1891 before the assembly met. Further particulars of his career will be found elsewhere, under the headings “Ex Ministers,” and “Ex Speakers of the House of Representatives.”