On the 26th of February, 1844, a duel was fought between two lawyers in a valley running from the hills to the beach (now Sydney Street).
Upon the first exchange of shots, Mr. Brewer was severely wounded, and died a few days after. A legal difference was the cause.
The “New Zealand Journal” (London), dated 28th September, 1844, p. 579, gives the following account:—
“A duel was fought at Wellington between Mr. W. V. Brewer, barrister, and Mr. Ross, solicitor, Mr. Brewer fired in the air, but received Mr. Ross' ball in the groin, from which wound he died in a few days afterwards.
“Mr. Ross' second was Major Durie, and Mr. (Dr.) Dorset the surgeon in attendance.
“The cause arose from a Government source. These people are sure to be at the bottom of any mischief. Ross, a Government Officer, was defending McDonogh (of proclamation notoriety), in an appeal against a decision which he had given, from circumstances connected with which the quarrel arose. On Mr. Brewer's falling, the parties absconded, but returned on finding that he was not dead. After his death they did not appear to think the precaution necessary. While, to the astonishment of everyone, the Coroner's Jury brought in a verdict of “Died from a gunshot wound, by whom inflicted there was no evidence to prove.” The deceased gentleman was a brother-in-law of Mr. Justice H. S. Chapman, and the brother of the Judge of the County Court at Nelson, and arrived in New Zealand before the occupation of Cook's Strait by the New Zealand Company.
“Ross was, until recently, Attorney General of Van Dieman's Land. The unhappy affair has created the greatest disgust. We shall feel obliged to any of our readers who may have received accounts of this melancholy affair, to forward them to us.”