The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Executive Councillors — Prior To The Establishment Of Responsible Government
Prior To The Establishment Of Responsible Government.
The Executive Council was called into existence by Captain Hobson on the 3rd of May, 1841, the birthday of New Zealand as an independent Colony. For the first thirteen years it consisted of the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General, and the Colonial Treasurer; and these offices had each but two occupants during the first fifteen years. On the setting up of a Legislative Chamber, however, in 1854, the Executive Council was numerically strengthened for about two months by the addition of several members of the newly-formed House of Representatives; but from the 2nd of September, 1854, till the establishment of responsible government on the 7th of May, 1856, the three officers mentioned again constituted, with the Governor, the Executive Council, notwithstanding that only one of them, the Attorney-General, was a member of the General Assembly. The following were the members of the Executive between the dates above mentioned.
Lieutenant Willoughby Shortland was appointed Colonial Secretary by Governor Hobson on the 3rd of May, 1841. On the death of his chief, on the 10th of September, 1842, he as Chief Executive Officer, administered the Government until the arrival of Governor Fitzroy on the 26th of December, 1843. On the 31st of the same month, Lieutenant Shortland resigned his office as Colonial Secretary, and his seat on the Executive was filled by the appointment of Dr. Sinclair. Governor Hobson spoke in the highest terms of Colonial Secretary Shortland. He came to the Colony in January, 1840, with Captain Hobson, having been appointed by Governor Gipps, of New South Wales, to the office of Police Magistrate, at a salary of £300 per annum. Shortland Crescent in Auckland was named in his honour. Further particulars of Lieutenant Shortland's career are given under the heading “Ex-Governors.”
Mr. Francis Fisher, the first Attorney-General of the Colony, was appointed to that office and a seat on the Executive Council on the 3rd of May, 1841; but he retained the position about three months only, being succeeded by Mr. William Swainson on the 10th of August following.
Mr. George Cooper, who came to the Colony in 1840 with Captain Hobson, in the capacity of Collector of Customs and Treasurer, at a salary of £600 per annum, was, on the 3rd of May, 1841, appointed Colonial Treasurer and Collector of Customs, his salary being at that time reduced to £500, with an increase of £10 per year until a maximum of £600 should be reached. On the 9th of the following May Mr. Cooper resigned, and his office was filled by Mr. Alexander Shepherd.
Mr. (afterwards the Hon.) William Swainson replaced Mr. Francis Fisher, the first Attorney-General, on the 10th of August, 1841, and held the position until the establishment of responsible Government on the 7th of May, 1856. He, therefore, enjoyed the distinction of an Executive Councillor for a longer period than anyone else in the history of the Colony.
Mr. Alexander Shepherd succeeded Mr Cooper, the first Colonial Treasurer, on the 9th of May, 1842, and held the office until the 7th of May, 1856. Born in Aberdeen he was the first Colonial Treasurer appointed from England, and came to the Colony from London per ship “New York Packet,” arriving in Wellington early in 1842. It may be interesting in these days of rapid communication to note that Mr. Shepherd was detained a whole month in Wellington awaiting a vessel to carry him to the seat of Government at Auckland. In 1856 he retired from the service on a pension, which however he only enjoyed for three years. He died in Auckland in 1859. The Auckland New Zealander of the 23rd of July, 1859, says:—“In our obituary of this day we have to record the death, after two days' illness of Mr. Alexander Shepherd, who filled the office of Colonial Treasurer up to the date of the establishment of Responsible Government in New Zealand. Though a Government official, the deceased ever pursued an independent course in the Legislature in support of what he believed to be right, and both before and since his retirement from public life took a warm interest in the advancement of the Province of Auckland. In connection with the Savings Bank and other local institutions. Mr. Shepherd rendered valuable services to our community, services none the less efficient for the quiet and unassuming manner in which they were performed. He was an old servant of the Crown before coming to New Zealand. The immediate cause of his death was, we believe, disease of the heart, symptoms of which disease had manifested themselves a year or so page 56 ago.” Mr. Shepherd was a brother of Mr. John Shepherd, formerly Chairman of the East India Company. His eldest daughter married Mr. Singleton Rochfort, Barrister of Auckland, the second became Lady O'Rorke having married the Hon. Sir G. M. O'Rorke, Speaker of the House of Representatives. The youngest daughter lives in Auckland with her sister Lady O'Rorke. Mr. Shepherd's step-daughter married the late Sir Frederick Whitaker, M.L.C. Two of Mr. Shepherd's sons, the eldest and the youngest, were in the East India Company's service. The elder joined as a Cavalry Officer, and was killed in India at the “Battle of Chillian Wallah.” The younger served his full time and retired on his pension, returning to Auckland where he recently commanded the Auckland Volunteers.
Mr. Andrew Sinclair was appointed Colonial Secretary by Governor Fitzroy on the 6th of January, 1844, the office having been vacated by the resignation of Lieutenant Shortland on the 31st of December, 1843. In connection with the two last-mentioned members of the Executive, Mr. Sinclair held the appointment until the establishment of responsible Government in 1856.
Mr. (now Sir) Francis Dillon Bell, M.L.C., held a seat on the Executive Council, “without portfolio,” from the 30th of June to the 11th of July, 1854. See “Ex Speakers of the House of Representatives” and “Ex-Ministers.”
Mr. (afterwards the Hon.) Thomas Houghton Bartley, M.L.C., held a seat on the Executive Council “without portfolio” from the 14th of July to the 2nd of August, 1854. See “Ex-Speakers of the Legislative Council.”
Mr. Thomas Spencer Forsaith, M.H.R., held a seat on the Executive Council “without portfolio” from the 31st of August to the end of September, 1854.
Mr. Edward Jerningham Wakefield, M.H.R., held a seat on the Executive Council, without portfolio, from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September, 1854. See “New Zealand Company.”
Mr. W. T. L. Travers, M.H.R., held a seat on the Executive Council, without portfolio, from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September, 1854. See “Ex-members of the House of Representatives.”
Mr. James Macandrew, M.H.R., held a seat on the Executive Council, without portfolio, from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September, 1854. See “Ex-Ministers.”