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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Wellington Ex-Members Of The House Of Representatives

Wellington Ex-Members Of The House Of Representatives.

page 263

Among those who have represented the City of Wellington in the House of Representatives, the Hon, Sir C. Clifford, Bart., may be named as having been the first Speaker; the Hon. Sir W. Fitzherbert as having occupied the Chair of both Chambers successively; Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston as having been a Minister of the Crown and for eighteen years Supermtendent of the Province; and Mr. W. T. L. Travers as a member of the Executive Council before the establishment of responsible Government. Among the others will be found the names of prominent lawyers and merchants.

Sir Charles Clifford, Bart., represented the City of Wellington in the House of Representatives from 1854 to 1860. Particulars of his career will be found under the heading “Ex-Speakers of the House of Representatives.”

The Hon. Robert Hart was returned as a member of the first House of Representatives in 1854. Further particulars of his career will be found under the heading “Late members of the Legislative Council.”

Mr. James Kelham sat as a member of the first Parliament, to which he was elected in the year 1854.

Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston sat for the City of Wellington in the second, third, and fourth Parliaments. He was returned to the first Parliament for the Wanganui and Rangitikei district. Thus he held a seat from his first election in 1854 till the close of the session of 1870. (See Ex-Ministers).

The Hon. Sir William Fitzherbert, K.C.M.G., was a member of the House of Representatives for twenty-two years. He first sat for the City of Wellington in 1856, and two years later was returned for the Hutt electorate, which he represented till the 13th of June, 1879. He then resigned and was called to the Upper Chamber. (See Ex-Speakers of the Legislative Council and Ex-Speakers of the House of Representatives).

Mr. William Waring Taylor was returned for the City of Wellington in 1861, and sat during the third and fourth Parliaments, continuing a member till the year 1870.

Mr. Charles Bonythorne Borlase, who died in Wellington on the 15th of May, 1875, at the age of fifty-five years was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Borlase, who commanded a dragoon regiment in India, and was born there, but was sent to England at an early age, and was educated as a solicitor. Mr. Borlase arrived in Wellington in the ship “Victory,” in 1848, bringing some capital with him; and in 1850 settled in the Wairarapa, then an almost unknown country. He was elected to the Provincial Council in 1857, and became provincial solicitor, holding that position till his death. He stood for the super intendency of Wellington in 1865 but was defeated by Dr. Featherston. Mr. Borlase was elected to the House of Representatives in the following year, and in 1873 and 1874 was mayor He was a man of exceptionally amiable temper, and was never known to say an unkind word to any one.

Mr. George Hunter represented Wellington City in the House of Representatives from 1871 to 1879. He was the first mayor of Wellington. (See Ex-Mayors).

Mr. Edward Pearce, who is referred to at length as Consul for Sweden and Norway, was a member of the House of Representatives for Wellington City in the fifth Parliament from 1871 to the end of 1875.

Mr. Williiam [sic] Thomas Locke Travers, F.L.S., who was for a short time a member of the Executive Council of the Colony during the first parliament, and for some years a member of the House of Representatives, was born on the 9th of January, 1819, at Castle View, near Newcastle, County Limerick, Ireland. Educated in France, at the College of St. Servan, he entered the British Legion of Spain as Lieutenant in the 2nd Regiment of Lancers, in which he served during the Carlist War, 1835–38. After studying law in England, Mr. Travers was admitted in 1844 in London, and practised at Chipping-Campden, and afterwards at Evesham, Gloucestershire, till emigrating to New Zealand in 1849. Arriving in Nelson per ship “Kelso,” he was at once admitted a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Colony. For some time the subject of this notice was judge of the District Court at Nelson, but resigned the position and resumed the practice of his profession in that city. In 1854 he was returned to the first General Assembly as member for Nelson, which he represented during the two sessions of that year and the sessions of 1855. Mr. Travers was elected a member of the second Parliament in the year 1856 for the Waimea District, and continued a member till 1858, when he resigned, Two years later, Mr. Travers left Nelson for Canterbury, where he lived till 1868, and was for several years a member of the General page 264 Assembly for Christchurch City. While resident in the City of the Plains, he took a prominent part in the local politics, being elected to a seat in the Council, and afterwards becoming one of the executive at the time when Mr. William Bealey was Superintendent of the province. After his removal to Wellington in 1869, Mr. Travers represented that City in the General Assembly, and thus it will be observed he had the honour of representing the three cities in which he lived. Mr. Travers has taken a foremost place in connection with many other colonial institutions and societies. As a member of the Acclimatization Society, he assisted Mr. Ludlam, Sir James Hector, and the Hon. Mr. Mantell in securing the splendid Botanical Gardens as a breathing and health resort for citizens of the Capital. He was one of the founders of the New Zealand Institute, prepared all the statutes connected with it, has been a Governor since its incorporation, and has contributed many papers. On the foundation of the Wellington College, Mr. Travers was elected one of the first Board of Governors—a position from which he retired because he believed that the whole of the endowments were being misapplied. He resigned his seat as a protest, and petitioned Parliament on the subject. The flourishing local Gas Company owes much to Mr. Travers, who was one of the first large shareholders, and acted as solicitor to the Company, He also took a lively interest in volunteering, having formed and commanded companies in Nelson and Christchurch, and has held a commission as captain in the militia for over forty years. Mr. Travers received from the French Government the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Cambodia for services rendered to that Government. For sometime he was Vice-Consul for France. Further particulars of this well-known colonist will be found under the heading “Legal.”

Mr. George Elliott Barton, who occupies the position of Judge of the Validation Court, dealing with the validation of titles to Native Lands, the partition of land and the settlement of disputes between Native litigants and the succession to titles, and informalities in dealing with all matters concerning titles to Native Lands, was appointed to this responsible position on the passing of the Validation. Act in 1892; he being endowed with all the powers of a Supreme Court Judge in these matters. For some years previous to this appointment, Judge Barton was one of the ordinary judges of the Native Land Court. The most remarkable event in his career happened while practising as a barrister in the City of Wellington, On the 30th of January, 1878, while pleading in a case before the Chief Justice, he was on an argument as to costs, found guilty of contempt of court, and fined £50, which he declined to pay. On the Court resuming next morning, it was stated from the bench, on which both the Chief Justice and Judge Richmond were sitting, that by some curious oversight the proceeding of the Court had been illegal. On the same day, while acting as counsel for Mr. E. T. Gillon, he characterised its judgment as being unintelligible, and proceeded to argue with the bench; he was four times ordered to sit down and hold his tongue, but continued to remonstrate, and was then sentenced to one month's imprisonment in Wellington goal. While incarcerated there an election for Parliament was held, and Mr. Barton, Colonel Pearce, and Mr. W. Hutchison were candidates. The election took place on the 19th of February, and Mr. Barton was returned. When the result was known a vast concourse of people went up to the gaol and cheered the new member, who appeared at a window, but was not allowed to speak. Mr. Barton was at that time a pronounced democrat, and is now recognised as a gentleman of culture, with high abilities, well read and with a large knowledge of the world. He is eminently fitted for his present high station, which requires a man of firm resolves to resist the influences brought to bear on matters where native land titles are in question.

Mr. William Hutchison sat as a member of the House of Representatives from 1879 to 1884. In the seventh Parliament, 1879 to 1881, he represented the City of Wellington; and in the eighth, 1882 to 1884, the constituency of Wellington South.

Mr. William Hort Levin, who was a member of the House of Representatives from his election in 1879 till his resignation on the 24th of March, 1884, though hardly remembered as a politician, was a citizen of whom it would be difficult, if not impossible, to speak in terms of too high praise. Two years have passed since his sudden death threw all Wellington into deep and prolonged mourning, but two decades will make but little headway in effacing from the memory of true Wellingtoniaus the kindly face and kindlier deeds of “Willie Levin,” as he was affectionately and respectfully called in the common conversation of the townspeople. Not forgetting the gloom cast over the city by the passing away of such great men as Sir Harry Atkinson, the Hon. John Ballance, Mr. Justice Richmond, and others, it is safe to say that no man has ever been so generally mourned by all classes of the people of Wellington, as was Mr. W. H. Levin. Born and brought up in the city, he was in touch with the whole community. He lived then as he lives still, in the hearts of the people. Mr. Levin was born on the 7th of August, 1845, and received his earlier education at the school of the late Mr. Edward Toomtah, of Wellington. His father was at this time one of Wellington's prominent merchants, founding the firm of Messrs. Levin and Co., as early as 1852, in company with Mr. C. J. Pharazyn. In 1868, Mr. Levin, senior, retired, and his son, who had by that time exhibited unusual business capacity, was admitted to a partnership, the firm then consisting of himself, Mr. C. J. Pharazyn, and Mr. (now the Honourable) Walter Johnston. The success of the founders was continued until 1878, when the partnership ceased by effluxion of time. Mr. Pharazyn retired, Mr. Johnston joined his father and brother in the well-known firm of Messrs. Johnston and Co., and Mr. Levin continued the old business in Grey and Panama Streets. The firm's trade, which had always been vast, went on growing with the town; and in 1889, to meet the demands of the wonderfully increased business, a fresh partnership was arranged. Colonel Pearce, who had for many years conducted the large and flourishing business of Messrs. Edward Pearce and Co., joined the firm, bringing with him his vast mercantile connection, and Mr. John Duncan, who had had a large British and Indian experience, was also admitted to a partnership. Notwithstanding the innumerable acts of liberality for which Mr. Levin was so well known and so justly popular, his wealth increased with phenomenal rapidity. His firm enjoyed the highest reputation among all classes, and the wealth that was pouring into it was begrudged by none. Socially as commercially, Mr. Levin occupied the fore-rank. By his marriage, with Miss Fitzgerald, the eldest daughter of Mr. J. E. Fitzgerald, C.M.G., the Controller and Auditor-General, he added to his already illustrious connections and relations, among whom may be mentioned Mrs. George Beetham (his only sister), Sir Francis Dillon Bell, K.C.M.G., C.B., etc. (who married his mother's sister), Mr. H. D. Bell, M.H.R., and the Rev. E. Bell, of London (cousins). The first public demonstration of Mr. Levin's popularity was on the occasion of his election to the House of Representatives. He had no political career to help him: he was no flowery rhetorician, or a plausible promiser of all good but impossible advantages; but he page 265 Mr. William Hort Levin was Mr. Levin, the benevolent merchant, beloved by thousands and respected by all, and the electors of Thorndon were quite determined that he should neither suffer defeat, nor be closely run. He was returned at the head of the poll by a substantial majority. There was no position in the gift of the people of Wellington to which Mr. Levin could not have successfully aspired, That he was never mayor of the city was because he persistently declined the honour, to the disappointment again and again of the people. As chairman of the Harbour Board he felt that he was in reality serving the city more advantageously than he would have the opportunity of doing in the mayoral chair, which was very probably the case, for his usefulness in that onerous position was admitted in all quarters. It is to him mainly that the thanks of the community are due for the establishment of that honourable board. He used to call it his child, and he lived long enough to see that his parental care was not thrown away. Still, notwithstanding his phenomenal popularity, Mr. Levin cared little for public positions. He resigned his seat in the House, and devoted himself, perhaps too assiduously, to business. But he was never too closely wrapped up in his own affairs to give sympathetic attention to the concerns of others. Hundreds in Wellington remember with pleasure an encouraging tap on the shoulder, or a few kindly words of enquiry, showing that he had not forgotten their little troubles of months or years before. Hundreds more were the recipients of pecuniary aid, rendered so pleasantly that the kindness was infinitely more valued than the cash, even when the latter ran into double and treble figures, as was not infrequently the case. To enumerate all the societies of which Mr. Levin was and had been the respected and beloved president, would be impossible. Nothing was too good to be offered him, and nothing was too poor for him to accept if he believed he was thereby encouraging a worthy object without an undue tax on his time. Enshrined, therefore, as he most certainly was, on the hearts of all classes, what wonder that Wellington was stunned when, on the morning of Friday the 15th of September, 1893, the sad tidings were swiftly passed from one to another that Mr. Levin had died at eleven o'clock? What wonder that on Sunday the 17th, the house, the garden, St. Paul's Church, and the streets leading there and to the cemetery, were crowded with mourners and sympathizers? Had it been otherwise, Wellington would have exhibited base ingratitude towards one who had ever been her staunch friend. His contribution of £1000 as a nucleus of the funds of the Free Library gained that valuable institution for Wellington many years before it would otherwise have been provided. Yet that was a trifle in the whole sum of Wellington's indebtedness to Mr. Levin. Among the thousands that were anxious to pay respect to his memory, and for that purpose thronged the streets on that day, were poor widows whose little homes had been kept together through the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Levin. Men of all ages were there who gratefully remembered his kind words of sympathy and ready pecuniary help in their times of trouble through the loss of a wife or a child; young men were there who had been helped into situations; business men were there whom he had helped over a crisis, telling them to repay him when convenient, and to add nothing for interest; some doubtless were there who had taken an undue and therefore mean advantage of the good man, and even their eyes were moist as they remembered how he had never upbraided them; Sunday School collectors (many of the Sunday Schools were closed in consequence of the sad event that was proceeding,) were there, whose lists Mr. Levin had started year after year with liberal donations; every charitable and philanthropic institution in the place was represented; Government House was represented; several of the Cabinet Ministers were in personal attendance, besides a strong muster of members of Parliament, the City Council, the Harbour Board, the councils of adjoining boroughs, etc.; every religious denomination was well represented, and all remembered gratefully the bazaars liberally opened, and the foundation stones laid by him whose ashes were being affectionately laid to rest. The wreaths were an exhibition of early spring flowers, in which the delicate Marshall Neill roses and lilies of the valley vied with the blue and white violets in their expressions of tender love and sympathy. Crosses, shields, hearts and harps of most beautiful manipulation, were sent in from all parts, turning the immediate surroundings into a land of odorous flowers. He whose life had been so suddenly cut off had been vice-president of the Horticultural Society. His love of flowers was proverbial; and to see them in such rich profusion at his obsequies must have touched the hearts of many a tottering old couple whose cottage had been brightened by floral and other contributions taken there by Mr. Levin on his way to business or church. Probably there was no brighter trait in his character than that of his gentle personal consideration of the aged. His donation of £250 towards the Home for the Aged Needy, though truly munificent, was in no way comparable to his private acts which kept so many from the necessity of going there. To enumerate all the expressions of sorrow and sympathy is impossible. Parliament adjourned, the City Council adjomned, the dinner at Government House was put off, musical and operatic performances were abandoned, schools were closed, a picnic and an exhibition of Fine Arts were postponed, the bells were tolled and the flags waved sadly at half-mast. Publicly and privately the people mourned. More than three pages of the New Zealand Mail were occupied in the description of the sad event. Letters of condolence poured in from everywhere. The City Council called meetings of the public to consider the question of a memorial, with the result that Mr. Levin's memory is to be perpetuated by the establishment of a cottage home for friendless little ones, to be called the Levin Home for Friendless Children. The portrait given herewith will be recognised by page 266 thousands as that of Wellington's greatest benefactor. Mrs. Levin and her four children are amply provided for, and it is satisfactory to know that the house of Levin still maintains a good name for genuine kindness and liberality. Even during Mr. Levin's lifetime, the kindly acts were by no means confined to himself. When the Rev. L. M. Isitt was working among the poor and distressed of Wellington, the writer remembers heaving him say that from none did he get such cheerful, ready, and frequent help as from Mrs. Levin.

The Hon. Charles John Johnston represented Te Aro constituency in the House of Representatives from 1882 to 1886. (See Wellington members of the Legislative Council).

Mr. George Fisher sat as a member of the House of Representatives in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Parliaments—for nine years in all. He was first returned for Wellington South in 1884, and at the next general election, held in 1887, was elected for Wellington East. In January, 1891, he was again sent to the House, this time for the City of Wellington. In 1895 Mr. Fisher was elected Mayor of Wellington, and is therefore referred to in that capacity. (See Ex-Ministers).

Mr. Francis Humphris Fraser was a member of the House of Representatives during the session of 1887 for the electorate of Te Aro. His career is given as a councillor of the City of Wellington.

Mr. Charles Beard Izard, who represented the constituency of Wellington South and Suburbs in the tenth Parliament from 1887 to 1890 was born in Brighton, England, in 1829. He was educated at King's College, London, and at Magdalen College, Cambridge, where he obtained a scholarship He took his degree in mathematical honours in 1854, and was first senior optime. About two years later, after studying. at Lincoln's Inn, he was called to the Bar, and at once entered on the practice of his profession in the Chancery Division. Mr. Izard arrived in Auckland in the month of May, 1860 per ship “Avalanche,” the Waikato War having just commenced. He did not stay long in the north, preferring Wellington for its central position. He arrived on the Prince of Wales' Birthday, 1860. On arrival, Mr. Izard founded the widely-known legal business—now Bell, Gully and Izard. In 1868 he admitted Mr. William Pharazyn, brother to the Hon. R. Pharazyn, to his firm, but this gentleman died four years later. Three years after this Mr. H. D. Bell, now one of the members for Wellington, joined Mr. Izard under the style of “Izard and Bell,” a firm that was very prominent in Wellington for many years. In 1876 he had a well-merited trip to England to see his friends and recruit his health. Returning to New Zealand Mr. Izard threw himself into his business with renewed earnestness and worked very hard for several years. He was most successful in the practice of his profession and amassed a competency, retiring from the firm in 1887, chiefly owing to failing eyesight. While in business Mr. Izard declined public life owing to the pressure of his legal duties. Since his retirement he has become a director of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company, in which he is a considerable shareholder. He is a governor of the Wellington College and Girls' High School. In the House of Represen tatives Mr. Izard acted consistently as a strong freetrader, and, though he was a supporter of the Atkinson Government, he voted against Sir Harry's protectionist proposals. Mr. Izard was married in 1859 to Miss Hayward, of Sussex, England, and has five sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Mr. C. H. Izard, is a member of the firm of Bell, Gully and Izard. Mr. H. S. Izard is a solicitor practising in the Wairs rapa. Another son is in Mr. Charles Beard Izard the Bank of New South Wales, and the two youngest are in England. The Misses Izard live at their father's beautiful residence in Hobson Street.

Mr. Andrew Agnew Stuart Menteath, Member of the House of Representatives from 1884 to 1890, was born in 1853 in Edinburgh, and was educated on the Continent—principally in France, Spain, and Italy—by private tutors. On his return to Edinburgh, he began to study the law for the Scotch bar, but he was advised to discontinue and leave the Old World for a climate more suitable to his then delicate health. Following that advice, he came to Lyttelton per ship “Himalaya,” en route for Wellington. The traffic between the two ports was limited in those days, and this fact was brought home to Mr. Menteath most forcibly, for he had to wait ten days to get a steamer for Wellington. It seems incredible that the communication between Lyttelton and the capital has been multiplied by twenty in about as many years. It was one boat a fortnight then; now frequently there are two and sometimes three boats per day, and very few days without any. Mr. Menteath's letters and credentials were such that he had no difficulty in securing suitable employment on arrival. The National Bank was at that time on the point of opening a branch at Blenheim, and Mr. Menteath was appointed to that office. He subsequently had the management of several branches on the West Coast. In 1880, his health being now greatly improved, he resigned, his position in the Bank, and went Home to resume his law studies. On the 18th of April, 1883, he was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple, and soon after he returned to the Colony, and established himself at Greymouth and Reefton as a barrister and solicitor. Mr. Menteath began his political career in 1884, when he was elected to the House of Representatives for Inangahua by a small majority over Mr. Richard Reeves. Almost immediately after this, additional public duties were cast upon him by his election to the Inangahua County Council. In 1886 he had to resign this position in consequence of his removal to Wellington; and in the following year, when page 267 the general election was held, he became a candidate for the Te Aro seat in the House, and succeeded in beating Mr. F. H. Fiaser by some 150 voles. On the expiry of his term in 1890 he did not seek re-election, nor has he since made any attempt to woo the electors of any constituency. Mr. Menteath is a good speaker, and his influence upon the legislation of the day was very marked. He was a consistent denouncer of the Public Works Policy, with its accompanying extravagance and corruption. While representing the goldfields constituency he was successful in carrying a Bill through amending the Mining Workers Act in a much-needed direction. Mr. Menteath is a pronounced individualist, and has more than once lectured on those lines to the Citizens' Institute, of which he is a prominent and popular member. He is a Mason, and a member of the Ancient Order of Druids, and was for a considerable time a steward of the Island Bay Racing Club. In 1885 Mr. Menteath was married to Miss Mary Vanee-Agnew, daughter of Mr. Robert Vance-Agnew, of Barnbarroch, Wigtownshire, Scotland; and his family numbers three. In March, 1894, Mr. Menteath visited England and Scotland, returning in October of the same year, accompanied by Mrs. Menteath and the children, who had had a longer holiday by about a year.

Mr. Thomas Kennedy Macdonald was returned to the eleventh Parliament as one of the representatives of the City of Wellington. He resigned his seat in 1892, and was succeeded by Mr. William McLean. Further particulars of Mr. Macdonald will be found under “Wellington Auctioneers,” and under “Advances to Settlers Office,” as he is Chief Valuer for Wellington.

Mr. William McLean, for many years well and favourably known throughout the West Coast District as a mining manager, and more recently in Wellington in the same line, and as the popular secretary of the Empire Loan Company, was elected to the House of Representatives for Wellington City in January, 1892, in the place of Mr. T. Kennedy Macdonald, resigned. Mr. McLean was fortunate in having the full strength of the Government support in his favour, and he managed to beat a no less formidable opponent than Mr. H. D. Bell—at present an M.H.R. for Wellington City—by a majority of 153 votes. Mr. McLean stood for re-election in 1893, but was defeated. During his term of membership he was a consistent supporter of the Government, and a good working-man' member.

Black and white photograph of a group of yachts under sail