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William Rolleston : a New Zealand statesman



We have thus, by a series of hasty leaps down many centuries, reached William Rolleston's father, the Reverend George Rolleston, M.A. He is certainly worthy of notice, however brief, for he represented a type that has never been seen in New Zealand, and may now be almost extinct in England. He was for over fifty years squire and vicar of the three parishes under his charge. His clerical duties sat lightly on him. It was his character of squire that page 4engaged most of his time and attention, for he dearly loved hunting and country pursuits.

In the year 1825, this reverend gentleman came into the possession of a substantial mansion known as Maltby Hall, near the village of Maltby. It stood on a secluded plateau surrounded by forty acres of woodlands, shrubberies, and pleasure grounds. In these lovely grounds were to be found waterfalls, and even a little temple erected to "Diana or some other classical deity" amid the shady walks. The history of Maltby Hall goes back to the time of Charles I; but the house had been rebuilt about the middle of the eighteenth century.

It was here that William Rolleston was born on 19 September 1831.

When, thirty years later, Rolleston built for himself, on his lonely mountain station in New Zealand, a slab hut lined with cob and thatched with raupo, did his mind's eye ever recall the scene of his birthplace, with its parklands, gardens, and spacious rooms? If so, the contrast never caused him any regrets, for his English home and its surroundings had bred in him a love of the country and of the beauties of Nature that remained with him throughout his life.