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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Sir John Cracroft Wilson. C.B., K.C.S.I

Sir John Cracroft Wilson. C.B., K.C.S.I. , who represented Christchurch in the House of Representatives during 1861–65, and the constituencies of Coleridge during 1866–70, and Heathcote in 1872–75, was born in 1808, at Onamore, Madras Presideney. Having received his education in England he returned to India in 1828, and was appointed to the India Civil Service, subsequently becoming Assistant Commissioner to Sir William Sleeman, and afterwards a magistrate at Cawnpore, where he continued for a considerable time. From 1841 to 1853, Mr. Wilson was magistrate and collector at Moradabad. Owing to failing health, he was ordered to leave India for a time, and came to New Zealand, where he became a Canterbury settler, and acquired a property at the Port Hills, near Christchurch, which he named “Cashmere.” On his leave of absence expiring in May, 1855, he returned to Calcutta, and resumed his position as judge of Moradabad. During the trying period of the Indian Mutiny his conduct was distinguished by “indomitable courage, devotion to duty, and fertility of resource,” and he was recommended by Lord Canning to the favourable consideration of Her Majesty's Government as having “saved more Christian lives than any man in India.” For these services he was created Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1860, and twelve years afterwards, in further recognition of his great services, he became a Knight Commander of the Star of India. Sir Cracroft also received the Indian Mutiny medal in common with many other members of the Civil Service. Returning to New Zealand after the suppression of the Mutiny, Sir Cracroft devoted himself earnestly to work, both public and private, and was for several years a member of the Provincial Council of Canterbury. Sir Crarroft Wilson was a descendant of a very old family, whose genealogical tree goes back to the time of Henry III., to one Walter Cracroft. He was married twice; firstly, in 1828, to Miss Elizabeth Wall, who died in 1843, leaving a family of whom two sons and two daughters still survive; and secondly, in 1844, to June Torrie, daughter of Mr. James Greig. Sir Cracroft died at his residence, “Cashmere,” on the 2nd of March, 1881.