The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Late Wellington Legislative Councillors
Late Wellington Legislative Councillors.
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 Grange,” Wadestown Road—residence of the late Hon. W. B. Rhodes.
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. 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.