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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Late Wellington Legislative Councillors

Late Wellington Legislative Councillors.

page 254

The roll of late members of the Legislative Council for Wellington contains but twelve names. Among these, however, are several who stood in the front rank in the Government of the Colony. Three of them—the Hon. Sir H. A. Atkinson, and the Hons. A. Domett and H. Sewell—were Premiers of New Zealand, the last named gentleman being the first to occupy that office. Three others—the Hon. Sir W. Fitzherbert, and the Hons. J. Johnston and W. B. D. Mantell—were Ministers of the Crown. The Hon. Sir W. Fitzherbert was speaker of the House of Representatives and afterwards of the Legislative Council, and the Hon. Sir H. A. Atkinson at the time of his death was occupying the office of Speaker of the Council. The other gentlemen, though not attaining political distinction, were prominent citizens, and closely connected with the trade and commerce of Wellington.

The Hon. Henry St. Hill, M.L.C., was called to the Council in 1853, but resigned his seat three years later. He held the position of Resident Magistrate in Wellington for many years, and died on the 6th of June, 1866. A handsome brass plate to his memory placed in St. Paul's Church, Wellington, says he was an upright judge and a kind Christian man. His name was affixed to the burgess roll of the Borough of Wellington for the year 1843, where he is described as an architect resident in Hawkstone Street.

The Hon. Sir William Fitzherbert, K.C.M.G., M.L.C., was called to the Upper House of the Legislature in 1858, and continued a prominent member of the Chamber till his death in January, 1891. (See pages 69 and 100).

The Hon. John Johnston, M.L.C., was appointed a member of the Legislative Council in 1858 and occupied a seat till his death on the 16th of November, 1887. The honourable gentleman is referred to as a Minister of the Crown on pages 70–71.

The Hon. Henry Sewell, M.L.C., was first called to the Council on the 6th of August, 1861. He held office till the 22nd of May, when he resigned his seat. The honourable gentleman was re-called on the 13th of June, 1870, and again resigned on the 3rd of July, 1874. Mr. Sewell is referred to on page 57 as an Ex-Premier of the Colony.

The Hon. Robert Stokes, M.L.C., was appointed to the Upper House in July, 1862. His seat was vacated in 1879 in consequence of his being absent in England for more than two sessions. Mr. Stokes was one of the early Port Nicholson settlers. In 1844 he was the proprietor of the New Zealand Spectator and Cook Strait Guardian, one of the earliest newspapers in the Colony, He afterwards had a run in Hawkes Bay. Mr. Stokes died in England some years ago. He was a brother of the late Mr Stokes who bequeathed substantial legacies to the Napier Hospital.

The Hon. Alfred Domett, C.M.G., M.L.C., was called to the Legislative Council on the 19th of June, 1866, and held office as a member till the year 1874, when his seat was vacated. The honourable gentleman's career is given on pages 58 and 59.

The Hon. Walter Baldock Durant Mantell, M.L.C., F.G.S., son of the late Dr. Gideon Algernon Mantell, the distinguished geologist, was born at Lewes, in Sussex, in 1820. Mr. Mantell was intended for the medical profession, but did not complete the eurriculum. He came out to the Colony by the ship “Oriental,” arriving in Port Nicholson in Jannary, 1840. After a few months residence in Wanganui he was, in January, 1841, appointed postmaster and clerk to the Bench in Wellington, holding the former position for three years. He then went to Taranaki, and, having heard from his friend, Mr. Charles Nairn, of the existence of Moa bones at Waingongoro he went there, and found great quantities in the ovens in which the old Maoris had cooked them. Mr. Mantell also discovered there fragments of the eggs of the bird. For a short time after this Mr. Mantell was employed as superintendent on the military roads in the Porirua district. In August, 1848, he was appointed commissioner for extinguishing native claims in the Middle Island. His duty was to set aside reserves for the Maoris, and to reconcile them to the sale of lands partly purchased by Mr. Kemp on behalf of the Government, and for which some of them had already signed a deed. A year later Mr. Mantell was appointed to the duty of extinguishing native titles on Banks Peninsula. In 1851, at the suggestion of Sir George Grey, Mr. Mantell, who had been appointed one of the local commissioners of the great Exhibition, assisted in the formation of the New Zealand Society for scientific purposes, and became its secretary. About the end of 1851 he was appointed Crown Lands Commissioner for the Southern district of New Munster, and at the same time held the offices of commissioner of Land Claims, commissioner under the New Zealand Company's Land Claimants Ordinance, and commissioner for the extinguishment of native claims. In 1852 he made a further collection of fossil remains, and sent a splendid shipment page 255
The Hon. Walter Baldock Durant Mantell

Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.

to his father in England. These arrived too late, as Dr. Mantell had died, and the collection remained unopened till 1856; subsequently they were deposited in the British Museum. At the end of 1855, Mr. Mantell obtained leave of absence to visit England. While in London in 1856, in consequence of some of the promises made by him to the Maoris under his instructions from the Government having been broken, Mr. Mantell resigned his official positions, feeling himself out of harmony with the native policy of both the Imperial and Colonial Governments. Mr. Mantell returned to the Colony in 1859. From July to December, 1861, he was Minister for Native Affairs in the Fox Ministry. He held the office of Postmaster-General and Secretary for Crown Lands in the Domett Administration, in August 1862, and was subsequently, without portfolio, resident minister at Wellington during the recess. Mr. Mantell was a second time minister for Native affairs in the Weld Ministry, from December, 1864, to July, 1865. After serving as a member of the House of Representatives for the county of Wallace for some years, he was, in 1866, nominated to the Legislative Council. Mr. Mantell has always been an earnest advocate for honourable fulfilment of all engagements with the Maoris. The subject of this notice has been married twice, first to Mary Sarah, daughter of Mr. Edward Prince, on the 29th July, 1863, and second on the 10th January, 1876, to Jane, daughter of Mr. Benjamin Hardwick, of Beckenham, in Kent. By his first wife he has one son, Walter Godfrey Mantell of Wellington. (For later particulars see page 68.)
The Hon. William Barnard Rhodes, M.L.C., who was for nearly forty years a prominent colonist and politician, was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire, on the 8th of May, 1807. Epworth is a very small place, and principally remarkable on account of its being the birth-place of John Waslev. The population to-day is about two thousand. No wonder that his native town with its slow growth was much too quiet and settled for a man of enterprise, such as the subject of this notice proved himself to be. In the year 1839 Mr. Rhodes came to this Colony, being here before the first of the New Zealand Company's settlers. From that time until his death on the 11th of February, 1878, he was one of the most active colonists Wellington could boast of. As a capitalist he was successful to an extraordinary degree. The Hon. William Barnard Rhodes was the eldest son of Mr. William Rhodes, a Yorkshire man who is said to have been descended from one of the officers who took part in the defence of Pontefract Castle, the last of the royal fortresses to yield to Cromwell, who starved out the inmates, and destroyed the place. The honourable gentleman entered the East India Company's service when very young, and remained at sea till twenty-six years of age, when he took up land in Australia, and soon stocked it with sheep and cattle. After a short time he became anxious to explore New Zealand, and leaving a manager in charge of his property, he took charge of a whaling expedition, of which he was the chief proprietor. The venture proved to be a profitable investment, and Mr. Rhodes was able to visit the various harbours of the Colony. About two years were spent in this way, and large investments were made by him in land in various parts of both islands, including those in and around Timaru and on Banks Peninsula, which Mr. Rhodes stocked with sheep and cattle from Australia. He established and equipped stations at suitable places on his numerous holdings, placing them under the control of capable and trustworthy managers. He then induced his brothers to come to New Zealand, and admitted two of them into partnership with him in his southern properties. Mr. Robert Heaton Rhodes joined him just before the arrival of the first four ships with the Canterbury pilgrims, and Mr. George Rhodes a year or two previously. As Mr. Rhodes' brothers were like himself, energetic clever men, and excellent colonists, they became very successful and wealthy. Their The Hon. William Barnard Rhodes page 256 flocks and herds multiplied enormously, and the lands which they had taken up in a state of nature were in the course of years reduced to a high state of cultivation; thus the Messrs. Rhodes laid the foundation of the handsome fortunes which ultimately fell to their lot. As the tide of settlement swept on, the value of their huge estates increased wonderfully, and many of them were sold at splendid prices; indeed, their whole career was one vast wave of success. The honourable gentleman under notice made his home in Wellington in 1839, and soon became a most successful merchant and the owner of large city properties. Ever ready to advance the interests of the place, Mr. Rhodes was first and foremost in all public matters. He was a member of the Wellington Provincial Council, and in this position he gave great satisfaction to his constituents. He was chosen to represent the city in the first Parliament. At this time Auckland was the seat of Government, but, notwithstanding the difficulties of travelling in those early times, Mr. Rhodes was always regular in his attendance as a member of the House of Representatives for many years. In 1870 the Government of the day, the Fox-McLean Administration, recognising the value of Mr. Rhodes' wisdom on the councils of the Colony, called him to the Upper House, of which he continued a worthy member throughout the remainder of his life. His many services to the Province of Wellington as well as to the Colony as a whole, will not soon be forgotten by his contemporaries. On the 7th of May, 1852, Mr. Rhodes was married to Miss Sarah, daughter of the late Mr. John King, a prominent solicitor and notary public of Wellington. On the 3rd of August, ten years later, this lady died, and Mr. Rhodes married Miss Sarah Anne Moorhouse, daughter of Mr. William Moorhouse, J.P., Knottingley, Yorkshire, and sister of the late Mr. William Sefton Moorhouse, M.H.R., of Christchurch. Many years before his death the honourable gentleman built and prepared the beautiful home so well known as “The Grange,” on the Wadestown road; here Mrs. Rhodes still resides and is known far and wide for her hospitality and liberality in all good works, Miss Rhodes, [unclear: the] only child of the Hon. W. B. Rhodes was married to Mr. Edward Moorhouse, a relative of Mrs. Rhodes. Both wife and daughter were left with handsome fortunes. Mr. Rhodes' maternal ancestors had long resided in the neighbourhood of Epworth. It is recorded that one of his relatives rescued the eminent divine John Wesley when an
“The Grange,” Wadestown Road—residence of the late Hon. W. B. Rhodes.

“The Grange,” Wadestown Road—residence of the late Hon. W. B. Rhodes.

infant of tender age from the flames which consumed the Epworth Vicarage. On the occasion of a visit of one of Mrs. Rhodes' brothers to the district, a banquet was given in his honour by the townspeople. The local paper, the Axholm Gazette, in discussing, the banquet made pleasant reference to the long and honourable connection of the Rhodes family with that ancient and historic “Isle of Axholm,” as it is called from its being cut off by the river Trent from the county (Lincolnshire), of which it is nevertheless a part, Epworth being its market town. Although the Hon. Mr. Rhodes left no son to perpetuate his name, it is not likely to be forgotten. In the Church of England cemetery a substantial tombstone is erected to his memory. Mrs. Rhodes presented the hour bell (the largest bell that had been cast in the Southern Hemisphere at that time) of the clock page 257 in the Post-office tower, of which the citizens are reminded constantly of the man who not only himself did much for the place in which he lived, but was able to leave his widow in a position to emulate his good example. The view of the harbour and city obtainable from “The Grange” is perhaps the best of a great many good ones.

The Hon. Robert Hart, M.L.C., was born in the Strand, London, on the 28th of December, 1814, and was educated at the University College, London. He studied the law and was a member of the Law Debating Society, which, during his time, included Lord Macaulay, Whiteside, the celebrated Chancellor of Ireland, and other notable men. He arrived in Wellington on the 10th of August, 1843, and at once commenced practice as a lawyer in parthership with another English barrister, Mr. Holroyd, afterwards a New South Wales judge. Later on he became partner with Mr. (afterwards Sir Richard) Hanson, Chief Justice of South Australia. In 1859 he revisited England, and on his return was appointed District Judge for Wellington and Napier, which office he resigned, and resumed practice as a barrister in 1861. He was joined in 1866 by Mr. (Sir Patrick) Buckley, and that firm existed until 1878, when the senior partner retired. Among other celebrated trials he took part in that of the Manugatapu murderers at Nelson, in 1866, when three of the murderers were found guilty and executed. Mr. Hart sat in the first Parliament as member for Wellington, in 1854, and became a member of the Legislative Council in 1872, and filled the seat with dignity and merit, so long as his health enabled him to attend to his duties. He acted as Revising Barrister for Friendly Societies, and for electoral purposes; became Law Officer for the Government in the absence of the Attorney-General and was offered, but declined, a seat on the Suprem Court bench. He married, in 1867, a sister of the late Sir Donald McLean, and died full of years and honours on the 16th of September, 1894, aged eighty years, and the Legislative Council, then in session, adjourned its business for the day in order to allow members to pay their last respects to their late colleague.

The Hon. John Martin, M.L.C., was born in 1822 at Maghera, near Dublin, and came to New Zealand per ship “Lady Nugent” in 1841. He was a self-made man, having raised himself by untiring energy and perseverance from the bottom of the ladder. Commencing as a pick and shovel hand he worked on till he was able to become a contractor, and ultimately he established himself in business as a storekeeper. His first shop was situated on the site now occupied by the Bank Hotel. For some time prior to this he was at Petre (Wanganui) when the militia were stationed there. Subsequently Mr. Martin became an auctioneer, and conducted a prosperous business for many years. As a speculator and investor in landed property he was uniformly successful. In his early life his parents intended the subject of this sketch for an ecclesiastical position, but his tastes did not lie in that direction. He was able to do a good deal to assist in the settlement of the Colony. With Mr. Plimmer, of Wellington, and Mr. Henderson, of Auckland, he founded the, “Circular Saw” line of steamers. Their boats, the “Wellington,” “Airedale,” “Taranaki,” “Phoebe,” “Aorere” and others were at length sold to the Union Steam Ship Company, and formed a nucleus of the present fine business. The honourable gentleman was called to the Legislative Council in 1878, and remained a member till the 17th of May, 1892, when he died after a very short illness. He did not weary his brother councillors by the length and frequency of his addresses; in fact, his reticence earned for him the designation of “the silent member.” Mr. The Hon. John Martin Martin was married and brought up a large family of ten sons and daughters, of whom Dr. Albert Martin and Mrs. R. O'Connor reside in Wellington.

The Hon. Alfred de Bathe Brandon, M.L.C., was born at London in the year 1810. He was educated for the law, and came to Wellington in December, 1840, per ship “London”—one of the New Zealand Company's chartered vessels. He at once commenced the practice of his profession, and soon gained the confidence of the public. When the Constitutional Association was formed, with the object of obtaining representative institutions for the Colony, Mr. Brandon was found among its most active members. His first public position of importance was that of Provincial Councillor for the Porirua district; and when Dr. Featherston was elected Superintendent in 1853, Mr. Brandon joined his Executive as Provincial Solicitor, retaining that position throughout the whole of Dr. Featherston's superintendeney—some eighteen years. His seat as a representative for Porirua he continued to occupy until the abolition of the provinces in 1876. For the last eighteen years of his time Mr. Brandon sat continuously in the House of Representatives for the Wellington Country District, and he continued that representation until 1881, winning at every election. In 1881, however, he did not seck re-election, and two years later his services to the country were acknowledged by a call to the Upper House. In the early days Mr. Brandon was Crown Prosecutor for a good many years. His unimpeachable integrity was universally admitted, and that, in conjunction with his well-known kindness of disposition, gained him many and substantial friends. During his legal career, Mr. Brandon admitted partners to his business. The first was Mr. Moore, who was afterwards Acting Chief Justice during the absence of Sir George Arney; and the other was Mr. W. H. Quick, still well known and in practice in Wellington. page 258 Up to within a few weeks of his death, which occurred on the 22nd of September, 1886, Mr. Brandon continued to take an active part in the business; but for several years his son, Mr. A. Brandon, had been in partnership with him, and the business is still carried on by him in conjuction with the Hon. T. W. Hislop, under the title of Brandon and Hislop. When the Hon. Mr. Brandon arrived in the Colony he was accompanied by his wife and an infant son. Mrs. Brandon died soon after their arrival; and the son, who was well known as Mr. Eustace Brandon, artist, died a few weeks before his father. In 1854 Mr. Brandon married Miss Poole, and their family consists of three sons and four daughters. Mr. Sydney Brandon, of Meanee, Hawkes Bay, is a brother of the late honourable gentleman, At the time of his death, Mr. Brandon was a Justice of the Peace, a local director of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, a director of the Colonial Insurance Company, president of the Wellington Club, and chairman of the Board of College Governors. He took a great interest in educational matters, and was the first chairman of the Wellington Board of Education. In all these positions, as in his own profession, Mr. Brandon was most highly respected. For nearly fifty years he exerted a beneficial influence on all with whom he came in contact; and many were those who had cause to mourn the death of one who had helped them most unostentatiously by advice and more practical assistance. Mr. Brandon's eldest surviving son Mr. Alfred de Bathe Brandon, was for some time a member of the Wellington City Council, and occupied the position of Mayor of the City for the year 1893–4.

The Hon. Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, K.C.M.G., M.L.C., was called to the Legislative Council on the 23rd of January, 1891, and held the high office of Speaker till his death on the 28th of January, 1892. Full particulars of Sir Harry's eventful career will be found on pages 62, 63, and 100.

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