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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Late Canterbury Legislative Councillors

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Late Canterbury Legislative Councillors.

In accordance with the terms of the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852, the Legislative Council began its first session on the 24th of May, 1854. The first members were called by the ActingGovernor, Colonel Wynyard. There were in all sixteen members; but of these eleven came from the North Island; Auckland alone had six, and the South Island provinces had only five amongst them. Canterbury supplied one member, the Hon. J. C. Russell. The relative numbers of the South Island and North Island members is an index of the degree to which the interests of the southern provinces were, in the early days, sacrificed to Auckland and Wellington.

By 1856 the number of the Council had declined to thirteen, and Auckland actually had a clear majority of seven members. Canterbury still had only one; the place of the Hon. J. C. Russell (resigned) being taken by Hon. H. J. Tancred, long connected with the provincial life of Canterbury, and for many years Chancellor of the New Zealand University. In 1858 the numbers were raised to nineteen, and Canterbury got two new members—the Hon. C. R. Blakiston and Hon. J. C. Russell, giving her a total of three; but Auckland was still predominant with nine. The resignation of Colonel Wynyard, in 1860, brought the Council down to eighteen, and in 1861 this was raised to twenty-one, but the Canterbury members were unaltered. In 1862, Mr. Blakiston resigned, and the Hon. J. Hall, G. L. Lee, J. C. Russell, and H. J. Tancred represented Canterbury.

The year 1863—the year in which the removal of the seat of Government to Wellington was resolved upon—found Canterbury represented by the same four members out of a total of twenty-nine. By 1865 the total was thirty-five, of whom Canterbury now claimed six; the new members being the Hon. J. D. Lance and the Hon. J. B. Acland. The Hon. John Hall and Hon. H. J. Tancred resigned in 1866, and their places were taken by the Hon. J. Hawdon, who had been connected with Canterbury since its foundation, and the Hon. E. Gray. Messrs Lance and Russell vacated their seats through non-attendance in 1867. In 1868 out of thirty-four members Canterbury had five; the new member being the Hon. W. S. Peter, a worthy successor to the Hon. J. D. Lance as a representative of Canterbury's pastoral interests. In 1869 the Council included forty-one members; but Canterbury still had only five, while Auckland, which had fallen to six, was raised to eight. In 1870 the total was forty-seven, and Auckland secured another member; Wellington and Otago had also nine each, while Canterbury still had only five. In that year, the Hon. G. L. Lee resigned, and the Hon. J. Hawdon died, and their places were taken by the Hon. G. Buckley and the Hon. de Renzi Brett. In 1872 matters were a little more hopeful for the interests of Canterbury, as out of a total of forty-six, she had six members, through the reappointment of the Hon. J. Hall, whose ability and public spirit had already made a deep impression upon the Council.

In 1873 the roll of the Council stood once more at forty-nine; and Canterbury members numbered seven through the inclusion of the Hon. J. T. Peacock. Down to 1878 the numbers varied between forty-nine and forty-three, and Canterbury gained another member, the Hon. T. Wigley. In 1879 the roll was forty-nine, and Canterbury had now eight members; Auckland, seven, Wellington and Otago eleven each, Hawke's Bay and Nelson four each. In that session the Hon. J. Hall resigned to take the post of Premier, and his Ministry remained in office till 1882. In that year, too, the Hon. E. C. J. Stevens was added to the Canterbury contingent, which then numbered eight out of fortyseven. In 1884, while the Atkinson and Stout-Vogel Ministries chased each other in and out of office four times in a twelvemonth, the personnel of the Council varied considerably. The Hon. E. Gray had resigned in 1883, and the Hon. G. Buckley resigned during 1884, but was recalled in the same year. In 1884 the Hon. W. Reeves, so long identified with the fortunes of the “Lyttelton Times,” was called to the Council, which attained its maximum limit in 1885. There were then fifty-four members, of whom Canterbury claimed nine, through the addition of the Hon. L. Walker, while Auckland still had ten, and Otago and Wellington had a still larger representation on the Council. By 1890 the numbers had fallen rapidly to thirty-nine, of whom seven were Canterbury members; the Hon. G. Buckley had resigned in 1885, and the Hon, de Renzi Brett died in 1889. In 1891 an attempt was made by fresh appointments to keep up the numbers of the Council. The Hon. C. C. Bowen, the founder of New Zealand's primary education system, then appeared on the roll; but Canterbury suffered a severe loss in the death of the Hon. W. Reeves and the Hon. W. S. Peter, which occurred during the year. In the same session the Hon. T. Wigley was unseated for non-attendance. In 1892 the numbers were down again to thirty-six, and Canterbury was left with a meagre total of five. In 1893 the total was once more forty-six, and Canterbury was strengthened by the appointment of the Hon. J. Jenkinson, the Hon. W. Montgomery, an enthusiastic supporter of primary and secondary education, and for many years chairman of the Canterbury College Board of Governors, and the Hon. W. C. Walker, who became Minister of Education in Mr. Seddon's Ministry. Down to 1898 the members of the Council varied between forty-four and forty-eight; and in 1898 the Hon. J. M. Twomey was added to the Canterbury members. In 1899, the oldest Canterbury member of the Council—the Hon. J. B. Acland—resigned after holding his position for thirty-four years. Here mention may be made of other members who have sat for long periods—namely, the late Colonel page 87 Kenny, thirty-seven years; the Hon. H. J. Miller (now Sir Henry and Speaker of the Council), thirty-six years; Hon. Mathew Holmes, who died in September, 1901, thirty-six years; Sir George Whitmore, thirty-eight years; and the Hon. W. Baillie, who was called to the Council on the 8th of March, 1861, over forty years.

The Council now (November, 1901,) includes thirty-nine members, of whom nine are Canterbury members, including the Hon. C. Louisson, appointed in December, 1900. Of the other provinces, Wellington claims five members, Auckland seven, Otago ten, including the Speaker; Hawke's Bay four, Nelson three. It is obvious that neither the South Island in general nor Canterbury in special now suffers from lack of representation in the Legislative Council.

The Hon. John C. Watts Russell occupied a seat in the first Legislative Council in 1854, and resigned in the following year. He was again called to the Council by the Stafford Ministry in 1858, and sat as a member for ten years. Mr. Russell was also a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council. He owned large sheep runs in Canterbury, and resided at Ilam, near Riccarton. As a Freemason he had the distinction of being the first Grand Master in Canterbury. Mr. Russell died in England many years ago.

The Hon. Henry John Tancred was a member of the Legislative Council from 1856 to 1866, and held office in three ministries. He was the second son of the seventh baronet of the well-known Tancred family, and was born in England in 1825, and educated at Rugby. At an early age he entered the Austrian Army and saw active service in Hungary and Italy. He arrived in Canterbury in 1851; two years later he entered the first Provincial Council, was elected its Speaker in 1866, and retained the office till the abolition of the provinces in 1875. Mr. Tancred's efforts in the cause of education were unflagging, and of great value to the country. He became the first Chancellor of the New Zealand University in 1871, and held that office continuously until his death in 1884. A sketch of his career is given at pages 66 and 67 of the Wellington volume of this Cyclopedia.

The Hon. Charles R. Blakiston was called to a seat in the Legislative Council by the Stafford Ministry in 1857, and sat as a member until 1862, when he resigned. He was a Provincial Councillor, and held office in the Provincial Government during Mr. Moorhouse's second term of office. He was also a member, and for several years chairman, of the Canterbury Acclimatisation Society. Mr. Blakiston was a highly respected colonist, and was for many years well known as the manager, in Christchurch, of the Trust and Agency Company of Australasia, Ltd. He died in Christchurch in 1898.

Sir John Hall, K.C.M.G., occupied a seat in the Legislative Council from 1862 to 1866, and from 1872 to 1879. Born in Hull, Yorkshire, in 1824, he was educated in Germany, Switzerland, and Paris, and arrived at Lyttelton in 1852, in the “Samarang,” the last of the Canterbury Association's ships. He was a member of the Provincial Council, and, as a member of the Executive, was Provincial Secretary, and afterwards Secretary of Public Works. In 1856 he became Resident Magistrate for Lyttelton, also Sheriff and Commissioner of Police; and in 1858 he was Resident Magistrate for Christchurch. He was successively chairman of the Westhaud and Selwyn County Councils, and also of the first Christchurch Municipal Council. Elected to represent Christchurch in the House of Representatives in the latter part of 1855, he was appointed Colonial Secretary in the following year. Sir John Hall was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1862, but resigned his seat four years later, when he was returned as member for Heathcote, and became Postmaster-General and Commissioner of Telegraphs in the Stafford Ministry of 1865–1869. In 1872 he was again called to the Legislative Council, but resigned in 1879, when he was elected as member for the Selwyn district. As leader of the Opposition in that year he defeated Sir George Grey, and was Premier from October, 1879, till April, 1882. It was during that year that he received the distinction of knighthood. After nearly forty years of public life, Sir John finally retired from politics, in 1893. As a statesman he originated or promoted many far-reaching measures, and was an assiduous worker for the enfranchisement of women.

The Hon. George Leslie Lee was called to the Legislative Council in 1862, during the Fox Administration, and he sat as a member until 1870, when he resigned. He was also a member of the Canterbury Prcvinical Council. Mr. Lee was one of Cauterbury's early colonists, and at one time owned near Southbridge, a farm which he subsequently sold. Latterly, for many years, he was Returning Officer for the electoral district of Christchurch. Mr. Lee died at Christchurch on the 15th of September, 1897, in his 83rd year.

The Hon. John Barton Arundel Acland was born in 1823 in Devonshire, England, and educated at Harrow and Oxford, where he graduated M.A. He at first took up law as a profession, but decided to relinquish it in favour of sheepfarming, and came out to New Zealand in 1854, in the ship “Royal Stuart.” He served for ten months as a cadet with Mr. H. Tancred, and in 1855, in conjunction with Mr. Tripp, he took up 250,000 acres of pastoral lands, including Mounts Peel, Possession, Somers, and the Orari Gorge runs. At the dissolution of the partnership Mr. Acland retained Mount Peel, which then comprised over 100,000 acres. Mr. Acland has always taken an active part in public affairs. He was called to the Legislative Council on the 8th of July, 1865, and resigned on the 1st of June, 1899. Mr. Acland has been chairman of the Mount Peel Road Board from its inception in 1870. He has taken an active part in church matters, and was a member of the Synod for many years. In 1869 he built the Mount Peel church, which has seats for eighty worshippers. Mr. Acland was for many years a member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College. He was married, in 1860, to Miss Harper, eldest daughter of Bishop Harper, sometime Primate of New Zealand.

The Hon. Captain James Dupre Lance was called to the Legislative Council in 1865, and sat as a member until 1868. He was also a member of the House of Representatives from 1884 to 1890. In youth he joined the Bengal Native Infantry, and subsequently visited New Zealand on sick leave in 1856. He then held the rank of lieutenant, and on the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, in 1857, he was recalled, and joined the 42nd Highlanders as interpreter. He was present at the final relief and capture of Lucknow. After his return to New Zealand he unsuccessfully contested the Superintendency of Canterbury with Mr. W. S. Moorhouse in 1866. Captain Lance became a prominent colonist and carried out extensive improvements on the Horaley Downs Estate, including about 300 miles of fencing and a large amount of tree planting.

The Hon. Ernest Gray was a Member of the Legislative Council from 1866 to 1883, when he resigned, and he was also for some time a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council. Mr. Gray arrived in the colony about 1853, and, selecting Canterbury as his future home, acquired a large freehold at Hoon Hay, near Christchurch, where he resided for a number of years prior to his death.

The Hon. Joseph Hawdon was called to the Legislative Council by the Stafford Ministry in 1866, and held his seat until the date of his death. He was born at Walkerfield, Durham, England, in 1813. Arriving in Australia in the early days, with the pioneers of that country, he took up large tracts of land, and was the first settler in page 88 Dandenong in Victoria, where he established a run. The head station of the Dandeneng run was located on the site of the present town of that name. This estate was subsequent'y disposed of to Captain Lunsdale in 1838, and a tract of country north of [unclear: Mount] Beckworth was sold to a Mr. McCallum. Mr. Hawdon also owned the Tallarook station and Banyule estate, near Melbourne. The first herd of cattle brought from Sydney to Port Philip overland was brought over by Mr. Hawdon and Mr. Gardiner. He was also interested in exploration work with Sir George Grey, and the Hawdon Plains in Australia are named after him. On coming to New Zealand he took up the Craigieourn and Grasmere runs, between Christchurch and Westland, where the Hawdon river and Lake Hawdon perpetuate his name. Mr. Hawdon revisited England, and lived for same years at K[gap — reason: illegible]dale Hall, in Yorkshire, but subsequently returned to New Zealand, and resided in Christchurch up to the time of his death in 1870. He was buried at Riccarton, near Christchurch.

Hon. J. Hawdon.

Hon. J. Hawdon.

The Hon. W. S. Peter was a native of Scotland. He left Home at the age of nineteen for South Australia, where he successfully engaged in sheepfarming. Mr. Peter did a large amount of exploring in North-western Australia, and the district now known as Kimberley. About 1856 he sold out his property and came to New Zealand, where he took up a block of country known as Anam, in the Mount Somers district. There he was engaged in sheepfarming up to the date of his death. In 1868 he was called to the Legislative Council by the Stafford Government, and held his seat for the remainder of his life. Mr. Peter took a lively interest in the local road board, and all that pertained to the welfare of his district. He died on the 23rd of May, 1891, when about seventy-three years of age, and left a family of three sons and three daughters.

Hon. Thomas Henry Wigley was born in England in 1825, and in 1838 came out to South Australia, where he completed his course of primary education, and afterwards became a squatter. Removing to Canterbury in 1853, he acquired “Balmoral” station, and subsequently was engaged in sheep-farming in South Canterbury for twenty years. Mr. Wigley was a member of the Provincial Council of Nelson, and was afterwards called to the Upper House, in which he served for a period of over twenty years. In 1863 Mr. Wigley married a sister of the late Mr. W. S. Moorhouse, Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury, and by this marriage had a son, Mr. W. C. H. Wlgley, LL.B. His second wife was Miss Lysaght, of Hawera, whom he married in 1880, and by whom he had four children. Mr. Wigley died in 1805.

The Hon. Colonel De Renzi Brett was called to the Legislative Council in 1871, and never missed attending a session up to the date of his death, which occurred in June, 1889. Colonel Brett was a brave old soldier, and a warm-hearted, impetuous, outspoken Irishman; a man who had served his Queen and country in many climes, and who was proud of it; one of the type of Irishmen, familiar enough in the pages of novelists, and in real life in the Old Country, but rarely met in New Zealand, and as full as any of them of those emotional Celtic qualities which endear them to men of the colder British temperament. He was born in Wexford, Ireland, in the year 1809, and was one of twentyfive children, the issue of one father and one mother. His father was a barrister, and captain of the Wexford Yeomanry Cavalry, and the son, when sixteen years of age, entered the 31st Regiment as ensign. He took part in the Burmese campaign of 1853–1854. During the Crimean war, he raised, by permission of the British authorities, a regiment of native irregular cavalry, for the Sultan of Turkey, and served with it with so much distinction, that the Sultan gave him the rank of a Major-General and a Pasha. [gap — reason: illegible] Colonel of the 108th Foot he went through the greater portion of the important affairs of the Indian Mutiny. Colonel Brett arrived in New Zealand in 1863, and purchased land in the Courtenay district. As a member of the Provincial Council he was successful in inducing the Executive Government, to adopt a scheme for irrigating the Courtenay, Malvern, and Horarata districts. Colonel Brett took an active interest in the volunteer movement, and was Colonel-Commandant of the Honorary Reserve Corps. He was also the first president of the Courtenay Agricultural and Pastoral Association. Colonel Brett was married, in 1845, at Limerick, Ireland, to a daughter of Colonel Harris, of the 24th Regiment of Foot, and he left a surviving family of three sons and two daughters. He was buried with military honours, and had completed his eightieth year two years before the date of his death.

The Hon. George Buckley was called to the Legislative Council in 1871, during the Fox Administration, and retained his seat until 1884. He was again called to the Council by the Stout-Vogel Ministry in 1884, but resigned in the following year. Mr. Buckley was a partner in the well-known firm of Messrs Dalgety and Co., Ltd.

The Hon. William Reeves, who was a member of the Legislature from 1884 up to the time of his death on the 4th of April, 1891, was a well-known Canterbury settler. His career as a Minister of the Crown is given on pages 71 and 72 of the Wellington Volume of the “Cyclopedia,” together with a brief sketch of his life in the Colony. He was an energetic and spirited colonist, and laboured earnestly in connection with various mercantile enterprises, which, temporarily absorbed his attention in the earlier days of settlement. Mr. Reeves was for the last thirty years of his well-spent life chief proprietor of the “Lyttelton Times” Company, of which he was also the managing director. Mr. Reeves was for years connected with the New Zealand Shipping Company as a director, and acted in a similar capacity on the management of the Mutual Life Association of Australasia, and from the commencement of the Union Insurance Company was a member of the directorate. He was also a governor of Canterbury College and a steward of the Canterbury Jockey Club. Mr. Reeves arrived in Lyttelton by the ship “Rose of Sharon” on the 25th of January, 1857, and was highly respected both for his business and personal qualities until the last. He was married at the Palace Church, Clapham, in 1853 to Ellen, eldest daughter of Mr. J. E. Pember, of Clapham Park, and member of the Stock Exchange, and had four sons and four daughters, the Hon. W. P. Reeves, Agent-General in London, being the eldest son.

Hon. W. Reeves.

Hon. W. Reeves.