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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.



Herbert Samuel Wardell (born in London in 1830) deserted civil engineering to take up the study of art. Sculpture was exhibited by him at the London Exhibition in 1851 and at the Royal Academy. He was magistrate at Poverty Bay from 1855 till 1860, at Wellington (1860–3), in the Wairarapa (1863–84), and in Wellington again (1884–8), and served on the Police Commission (1898) and the North Island Representation Committee (1908). He was the founder of, and the first president of, the Home for the Aged and Needy at Wellington, and president of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. He died on 6 May, 1912.

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Pending the appointment of Reginald Newton Biggs as R.M. and O.C. the district in February, 1867, Samuel Locke carried out the duties of magistrate.

William Smith Atkinson, who became R.M. on 21 January, 1869, was transferred back to New Plymouth in 1870.

Dr. William Kerr Nesbitt (born in County Cavan in 1818) practised at Rostrevor (Dublin) for fifteen years. He served as R.M. at Maketu for seven years prior to being sent to Gisborne in 1870. “It was,” says W. L. Williams, “a boon to the small community to have in Poverty Bay a medical man who, though largely occupied with magisterial work, was not unwilling to give professional help in cases of serious sickness.” He died on 25 July, 1877. His mother, with whom he had lived, was in her ninety-seventh year when she died on 20 June, 1888.

Brief terms as R.M. were then served by Henry Henricks (previously of Greymouth) and Caleb Whiteford.

Matthew Price had been in the Indian Army and, subsequently, had become one of the leaders of the “Beau monde” at Home. He then accepted a magistracy in Victoria. On the West Coast (S.I.) he was the first R.M. and Warden. He was transferred to Gisborne in 1880 and died on 26 July, 1883.

James Booth was born at Westmorland, England, and, in 1852, came out to Wanganui as a catechist to assist the Rev. R. Taylor. With his wife and family he was taken prisoner by the Hauhaus at Pipiriki in 1864. He became R.M. at Wanganui in 1865, a Judge of the Native Land Court in 1866, and a Native Land Purchase Officer in 1876. He served as R.M. at Gisborne from 1883 till his death on 14 May, 1900.

William Alfred Barton (born in Birmingham in 1851) arrived with his parents at Hokitika in 1861 from Australia. In 1867 he became a cadet in the Justice Department at Hokitika, where he rose to the position of mining warden and receiver of gold revenue. He was appointed clerk of the court at Kumara in 1879, at Greymouth in 1881, and at Gisborne in 1891. Although he had not qualified in law, he was appointed magistrate at Gisborne in 1900, retiring in 1916. During the first fifteen years of his magistracy he did not receive any assistance in covering his district, which extended from Port Awanui to Wairoa. Rough journeys were not an infrequent experience for him, but, mounted on his sturdy mare “Dolly,” he made every effort to be punctual for his engagements. On a trip to Wairoa in 1908 he was caught in a snowstorm on Parikanapa, and had to take refuge for the night at F. J. Lysnar's homestead. Next morning Mr. Lysnar guided him to Tiniroto. Whilst he was travelling on the East Coast he had a number of unpleasant experiences. During a trip in May, 1911, he came to grief in a swollen stream above Tokomaru Bay, got soaked, and had to camp out all night. Mr. Barton was in his ninety-fifth year when he died on 23 November, 1946.

Subsequent holders of the magistracy: R. Stone Florance, J. S. Barton, E. C. Levvey, P. H. Harper and E. L. Walton.

James Wrey Nolan (born at Bathurst, New South Wales, in 1855) was a son of David Nolan, who migrated from Londonderry to Australia in 1851 and moved to Auckland in 1866. He was admitted to the Bar in 1879, just prior to settling in Gisborne. In 1882 he became District Crown Solicitor and held that office until 1920, when he was succeeded by a son (Frank Wrey Nolan), who still (1949) occupies the position. Mr. Nolan, senior, was, for a number of years, chairman of the Hospital Trustees, a governor (and chairman) of the High School, a member of the Borough Council, president of the District Law Society, and also held office in a number of other institutions. For some years he was chairman of directors of the Gisborne S.F.M. and M. Co. Ltd. As a page 207 member of the first Auckland Rugby team to tour New Zealand he played in the contest at Dunedin on 22 September, 1875, which is regarded as the first “interpro.” match that was held in the Dominion. He was chosen captain of the Poverty Bay XV in 1879. In Auckland he was also a keen cricketer, and he did a great deal to popularise that game in Poverty Bay. He was prominently associated with the administration of racing in Poverty Bay, occupying the position of president and, later, of patron of the Poverty Bay Turf Club. He died in February, 1938.

George Elliott Barton (born in Tipperary in 1820) had just taken his B.A. degree at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1848 when he became implicated with other young Orange students in a revolt and was expelled. After conducting a law practice in Dublin for some years, he went out to the Victorian diggings and gained a seat in the Legislative Assembly. In 1862 he moved to Dunedin. Whilst he was practising in Wellington in 1878, Mr. Justice Richmond sent him to prison for contempt. During his gaol term he stood for Parliament and was elected. He resided in Gisborne in the 1890's. His death occurred whilst he was on a visit to Paris in 1903.

Joshua Cuff, who had been captain of F Battery at Napier, moved to Poverty Bay in 1869. He was one of the district's earliest solicitors. In 1883 he went to Thames, where he died in 1912. Mrs. Cuff was 99 years old when she died in October, 1944.

Brooke Taylor (born at Norfolk in 1811) came out to Auckland in 1858 to practice as a solicitor. He went on to Napier in 1860, and, in 1871, moved to Gisborne. Mrs. Taylor opened a private school for boys and girls in 1872, the year in which the first public school in Gisborne was built. Her piano was, then, the only instrument of its kind in Gisborne, and, for some years, it was greatly in request for entertainments, dances, etc. She was the first organist at Holy Trinity Church. Mr. Taylor died on 24 September, 1886, and Mrs. Taylor on 6 July, 1906. Two of their sons, Walter and Alexander, lived to be nonagenarians.

Wyvern Wilson (born in Gisborne in 1877) was a son of Judge J. A. Wilson, of the Native Land Court. After practising as a solicitor in various centres he was appointed to the magistracy in 1911, and became senior magistrate at Auckland. He died on 18 March, 1941.