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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Wellington City And Suburban — Members Of The House Of Representatives

page 259

Wellington City And Suburban
Members Of The House Of Representatives.

Of the four gentlemen who represent the Wellington City and suburbs in the House of Representatives, the Hon. Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G., stands out first and foremost as a politician. He has had a long career as a statesman, and was twice Premier of the Colony, and had previously held office as a Minister of the Crown. Sir Robert himself is a force to be reckoned with in the House; his colleagues, Messrs. Bell and Duthie and Dr. Newman (who represents Wellington suburbs) all occupy seats on the Opposition Benches, and may be said to be prominent members of Her Majesty's Opposition.

The Hon. Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G., the senior member for the City of Wellington, is one of New Zealand's illustrious colonists; and the story of his life shows how, in his case, at any rate, success and distinction have been no gifts from fickle fortune, but the just rewards of honest study, untiring industry, and determination to achieve the highest possible excellence in his every undertaking. A very interesting sketch of Sir Robert's life up to the beginning of 1885, appeared in that year's March number of a Melbonine magazine entitled Once a Month of which the following is in part a condensation. The subject of this article was born at Lerwick, in the Shetland Isles, of which it is the county town. His father was a merchant and landed proprietor, and the future knight was sent to the best school in the island, and one which ranked high among the academies of northern Scotland. That the boy knew how to learn was evidenced by the fact that at the age of thirteen he was installed as a pupil teacher; and that he soon learned how to teach is shown by the fact that at the age of sixteen he had passed all his examinations with such credit to himself that he was “one of a very few specially mentioned in the Privy Council Reports.” Two years later, when his term as teacher was completed, he determined to seek a wider field for his energies, and at the age of eighteen left his island home, and, by way of Scotland and England, came to New Zealand. This was in 1863, when New Zealand was famous for two things—the wars of the north, and the gold-rushes of the south; and Mr. Stout chose the latter. Landing in Dunedin early in 1864, he at first thought of adopting the profession of land surveyor, for which a general study of mathematics and special aptitude for that science well fitted him. He had passed examinations in surveying before leaving, No opening offering in that line, however, he secured an appointment as second master of the Dunedin Grammar School; and was soon transferred to a similar position in the North Dunedin District School. Here he continued till 1867, when he decided to study for the law. Though but twenty years old he had already gained a high reputation as a master, and his influence outside the school was of no ordinary kind. He had already been chiefly instrumental in founding the Otago Schoolmasters' Association, which has since developed into the Otago Institute. After three years careful study of the law, Mr. Stout was admitted a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, and in 1871 he began his illustrious career as a lawyer. To New Zealanders it is quite unnecessary to say anything of Sir Robert Stout's success in this respect; that is well known throughout the length and breadth of the Colony. Even when his professional duties were mainly in the south, his presence in Wellington at the Court of Appeal was as regular as the sittings of that exalted court. In the Supreme Court he gained laurels in his first criminal case; and he soon became noted as a sound lawyer, and as a successful pleader, particularly effective in addressing juries. The first session of the University of Otago was held the year of Sir Robert's admission to the bar; and he continued his studies thereat. Attending the course of lectures in mental and moral science, he gained first prize for essays on these subjects, and stood first in the political economy class of the next session. During the three sessions following (1873, 1874 and 1875), he was law-lecturer in the University, but resigned the position on becoming a member of the House of Representatives in 1875. This, however, was by no means his first appearance as a politician. In 1872 he was elected to a seat on the Provincial Council, and in the following year became Provincial Solicitor in the Executive of which Mr Donald Reid was the head. Three years after his election to the House of Representatives, Mr. Stout was invited by Sir George Grey to accept the position of Attorney-General, which he filled with credit to his party and to the complete satisfaction of the country till June of the following year, when he was compelled to resign owing to the serious illness of his partner, Mr. Sievwright. Beginning his political career as a Liberal of the most advanced type, Sir Robert has seen no need to change his views. Many of his so-called fads of twenty years ago have long since passed into law. Few men have had a greater influence upon the legislation of his time. In 1877, as a member of the House of Representatives, he was on the Waste Lands Committee and had charge of the Land Act of that year in its passage through the House. No mean compliment was paid him, therefore, by the Atkinson Ministry in 1882 in appointing him a member of the Land Board of Otago. While on that board Sir Robert proved his usefulness by his energetic and faithful exposure of “dummyism.” His views on the land question are most liberal; but probably the name of Sir Robert Stout is most page 260 inseparably connected with the Temperance cause and the cause of Education. All classes, but especially the working men of this Colony, are deeply indebted to Sir Robert, Some Education Acts dealing with higher education, the Trades Union Act, and many others have either been initiated or greatly advanced by him. In 1884, after an absence from Parliament of about five years, Sir Robert (who, by the way, was not Sir Robert until 1886) offered himself for election, and was returned by a large majority. This election decided the fate of the Atkinson Ministry, and Sir Robert became head of the Ministry known as the Stout Vogel Administration, which however, resigned in less than a fortnight, when it was replaced by the Atkinson party for less than a week. Then on the 3rd of September, 1884, on the resignation of the Atkinson Government, the Stout-Vogel Ministry, having the The Hon. Sir Robert Stout confidence of the country, entered upon earnest work, and continued in office until the 8th of October, 1887. At the general elections of 1887, Sir Robert stood for re-election by his old constituency, but was defeated by a bare majority. This was very deeply regretted on all sides, and was quite unexpected. Offers were made by several members to throw their constituencies open for him by resignation, but Sir Robert would not hear of any seat being vacated for him. In 1893, on the resignation of Mr. R. Reeves, he was returned for Inangahua. He had been urged by Mr. Ballance before his death to re-enter political life, and at this urgent solicitation he stood for Inangahua. In 1893 Sir Robert announced himself a candidate for his suffrages of the electors of the City of Wellington, and his overtures were received with enthusiasm. Over 6000 voters declared at the ballot-box that Sir Robert was in their opinion a man whose ability, steadfastness and courage fitted him to be their representative. In returning Sir Robert Stout and Messrs. Bell and Duthie, Wellington did herself infinite credit, and it is to be hoped that the Empire City will never allow so brilliant a candidate to woo her electors in vain. Further particulars of Sir Robert's political and professional career are given under the headings “Past Premiers” and “Legal.”

Mr. Francis Henry Dillon Bell, B.A., the second member representing Wellington City in the present Parliament, is the eldest son of the Hon. Sir Francis Dillon Bell, K.C.M.G., C.B., the late Agent-General for the Colony. Born in Nelson in 1851, Mr. Bell was educated at the Dunedin High School, completing his scholastic career at St. John's College, Cambridge, and gaining his University degree in 1872. The following year he was called to the bar of the Middle Temple, and, returning to the Colony, was admitted a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. In 1874 he joined Mr. C. B. Izard, under the style of Izard and Bell, in what was at that time a well established business. Mr. Bell was not long in making a name for himself as an able lawyer. The Council of Law Reporting, now a flourishing society, was unknown in those days, and the “Reports of Cases,” by Messrs. Olliver, Bell, and Fitzgerald were found exceedingly useful. The formation of the Council referred to was promoted mainly by Mr. Bell and his friend, the late Mr. W. Fitzgerald, the positions of treasurer and editor being most capably filled by these gentlemen respectively. After a most successful career of nearly twenty years, the firm of Izard and Bell was dissolved, Mr. Izard retiring from practice, and Mr. Bell becoming the senior partner in the leading firm of Bell, Gully and Izard, referred to elsewhere in these columns. In 1878 Mr. Bell was married to Miss Caroline Robinson, daughter of the late Hon. W. Robinson, of Cheviot. Their summer residence is at Lowry Bay, one of the prettiest parts in the county, and many are those who have enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Bell at their country home. Mr. Bell has done a great deal in the interests of the city he so ably represents. For the years 1891–92 and 1892–93 he occupied the mayoral chair. Returned to initiate a scheme for the much-needed drainage of the city, Mr. Bell devoted both skill and energy to the best interests of the ratepayers. Overcoming numerous other difficulties he secured the passage through Parliament of a special Act empowering the city to raise a loan for the carrying out of his design; and had the satisfaction of knowing that the scheme was fairly launched before vacating the civic chair. Citizens of all classes have reason to be thankful for the successful inauguration of this much-needed drainage reform, the benefits of which will be increasingly manifest as the years roll by. In the formation of companies and syndicates for the carrying out of works of value to the City and Colony, Mr. Bell has taken a fairly active part. He is chairman of the Hutt Park Railway Company, and a director of the Gear Meat Company. He has long been prominent in fostering the recreations of the people, and no man is more popular in athletic circles, a fact well evidenced by the high offices he holds. He is president of the Cricketers' Association, the Rugby Union, the Amateur Athletic and other Associations, besides numerous clubs of all kinds, including the Wellington Racing Club. He is a trustee of the Star Boating Club, and takes a great interest in its welfare. Mr. Bell's foreign appointments include a directorship on the New Zealand Board of the Equitable Life Assurance Association of the United States, and the Danish Vice-Consulship. In Masonry Mr. Bell has attained the very high position of Worshipful Grand Master, the highest office of the New Zealand Constitution, to which honourable post he was elected early in 1885. At the general election in 1890, Mr. Bell first sought parliamentary honours. Though late in starting, he ran a good race, losing the position by only some 150 votes. In January, 1892, he contested a bye-election, but was defeated by Mr. William page 261
Mr. Francis Henry Dillon Bell

Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.

McLean, who had a majority of 153 votes; but his opponent, without having in the meantime done anything to warrant the withdrawal of confidence, was over 4000 votes behind Mr. Bell at the general election of 1893. This time Mr. Bell was returned second on the poll, 450 votes behind Sir Robert Stout, and 1900 ahead of the highest unsuccessful candidate. This is a record of which Mr. Bell may well be proud. It was the first election under the Women's Franchise Act, and there can be no doubt that his platform and principles were acceptable to both sexes. Like his colleagues, Sir Robert Stout and Mr. Duthie, Mr. Bell is a member of Her Majesty's Opposition, and though not a prominent temperance advocate like Sir Robert, he nevertheless believes that the liquor question should be under the control of the majority. As that is all the prohibitionists contend for, Mr. Bell received a block vote from the temperance party. Though strongly opposed to the present administration, Mr. Bell could not be by any means correctly described as a conservative. His opinions on the land laws and all broad public questions are at least liberal if not radical. In the highest degree a sound lawyer, he has a remarkable capacity for hard headwork. Though he belongs to a party at present numerically weak, the public have a right to expect that Mr. Bell will influence legislation in no limited degree. and with a due regard to the best interests of all classes. He [unclear: and] his colleagues were sent there for that purpose, and there is every reason for believing that they will be true to their trust.

Mr. John Duthie became a Member of Parliament in 1890, when he was elected to the House of Representatives for the City of Wellington, being less than fifty votes behind Mr. George Fisher, who was on that occasion returned as the head of the poll, and nearly three hundred ahead of Mr. T. Kennedy Macdonald, who scored third place. Three years later Mr. Duthie was re-elected by a majority clnearly a thousand votes over Mr. Macdonald, who headed a long list of unsuccessful candidates, the other winning candidates being Sir Robert Stout and Mr. H. D. Bell, who occupied first and second places respectively. This was the first election under the Female Franchise Act. Few if any politicians are more generally respected than Mr. Duthie. Of course, a large number fail to see with him, eye to eye, on all points; but very many of them are nevertheless glad to repose in him their confidence, having the utmost faith in his integrity, sound financial ability, and influence in the House. Men of Mr. Duthie's class are scarce in the present Parliamene, and will become scarcer under the system of government by party. They are needed there, however. The Opposition being numerically weak, it is of the utmost importance that they be individually strong. Mr. Duthie and his colleagues have arduous duties to perform, and it is a matter of satisfaction that they are equal to their performance. The subject of this sketch was born in Kintore, Aberdeen, and educated at the Aberdeen Grammar School. There, too, he was apprenticed to the ironmongery with Messrs. Glegg and Thompson. Having completed his term, Mr. Duthie was for some years travelling in Scotland and Ireland for a Sheffield house. Coming to New Zealand in November, 1863, per ship “Helvellyn,” he landed in Auckland, and for some time acted as traveller for Messrs. Cruickshank, Smart and Co., ironmongers. About 1866 Mr. Dutbie removed to New Plymouth and started in business; about two years later extending the operations to Wanganni, where he opened a branch and conducted a growing trade for many years. In 1879 he came to Wellington, and started the large business (now John Duthie and Co., Limited), which is described at length elsewhere in the Cyclopedia, Until 1887 or 1888, Mr. Duthie retained an interest in the Wanganui business which he then disposed of to his partner, Mr. James Thain (now James Thain and Co., referred to under Wanganui ironmongers). The subject of this notice has always been ready to give his time and business capacity for the benefit of the public. While a resident of Wanganui, he was at one time chairman of the Harbour Mr. John Duthie page 262 Board. Since coming to the Empire City he has been a member of the Wellington Harbour Board for a considerable time, was chairman of that body for a term, and is a past-president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was also president of the Caledonian Society for some years. Mr. Duthie was in 1888 elected Mayor of Wellington without opposition. Besides these offices, he has held many others of lesser note. He has been largely interested in local commercial institutions. As one of the directors of the Gear Meat Company from the commencement, he did good service, and for two years was Chairman of Directors. As a Member of the House of representatives, Mr. Duthie is an indefatigable worker, seldom absent from his place, and his ability as a shrewd man of business enables him to bestow an intelligent consideration on all subjects that come before the House

Dr. Alfred Kingcombe Newman, Member of the House of Representatives for Wellington Suburbs, was born in India in 1849. His father, the late Captain Alfred
Dr. Alfred Kingcombe Newman

Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.

Newman, was for some years in the East India Company's service and came to New Zealand, accompanied by his family, in 1853, settling in Hawkes Bay. Dr. Newman was educated at private schools in Auckland and Hawkes Bay, and in 1863 went to England, completing his course in Bath. After leaving school the subject of this sketch studied medicine at Guy's Hospital, London, for several years, afterwards becoming house physician. Here, about the year 1874, he gained the degrees M.R.C.S., Eng., and L.R.C.P., London. Subsequently he had a period of study at the Aberdeen University, taking his degrees of M.B. and C.M. Early in 1875 Dr. Newman returned to the colony, but did not enter on the private practice of his profession. Subsequently turning his attention to commercial pursuits, he was for some five years a member of the firm of Messrs Zohrab, Newman and Co, general merchants. Dr. Newman is a shareholder in the Gear Meat Preserving Company, Limited, and for the last nine years has occupied a seat on the board of directors. For about four years Dr. Newman sat for Thorndon Ward in the Wellington City Council. There can be no doubt, however, that he has found his appropriate place as a member of the Colonial Legislature. Since his first election for Thorndon in 1884, Dr. Newman has been a prominent figure in the House. An untiring advocate of temperance reform, he is often a thorn in the sides of those who wish to delay the march of progress in this direction. He was a consistent supporter of women's rights in respect of the franchise. In his place in the House Dr. Newman proposed the establishment of a National Park to include Ruapehu and Tongariro, and this has been done, 63,000 acres having been set aside for the purpose. He is a warm advocate of the central route for the North Island Trunk Railway, having ridden over the proposed line to Auckland. Dr. Newman has always been a supporter of technical education. For fourteen years he his been a member of the Wellington Education Board, for some time he sat as one of the College governors, and is now a member of the new University Senate for the Wellington district. His tastes are journalistic, and be does a good deal of writing for the press of the Colony. Dr. Newman was re-elected for Thorndon in 1884 and 1887. Three years later he was returned for the Hutt, which electorate is now merged into the Wellington Suburbs, for which he was elected in 1893. To Dr. Newman is largely due the credit of establishing the Wellington Agricultural and Pastoral Society, of which he was president for one year. In 1879 Dr. Newman married Miss Octavia, youngest daughter of the late Dr. Isaac Earl Featherstone, the first Superintendent of Wellington. Mrs. Newman who takes great interest in the benevolent institutions of the City, was mainly instrumental in founding the Convalescent Home in Oriental Bay. She is president of the Home, which is free of debt and doing good work. Dr. and Mrs. Newman have only one child, a boy of nine years.

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