Frederick Weld

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Sir Frederick Weld

Frederick Weld.jpg
Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, date unknown.
6th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
24 November 1864 16 October 1865
Monarch Victoria
Governor George Grey
Preceded by Frederick Whitaker
Succeeded by Edward Stafford
Constituency Wairau, Cheviot
8th Governor of Western Australia
In office
30 September 1869 13 January 1875
Preceded by Benjamin Pine
Succeeded by William C. F. Robinson
4th Governor of Tasmania
In office
13 January 1875 5 April 1880
Preceded by Charles Du Cane
Succeeded by George Strahan
12th Governor of the Straits Settlements
In office
16 May 1880 17 October 1887
Preceded by William C. F. Robinson
Succeeded by Cecil Clementi Smith
Personal details
Born(1823-05-09)9 May 1823
Bridport, Dorset, England
Died20 July 1891(1891-07-20) (aged 68)
Chideock, Dorset, England
Political partyNone
Spouse(s)Filumena Mary Anne Lisle Phillipps (m. 1859)
ParentsHumphrey Weld
Christina Maria Clifford
Education Stonyhurst College
Alma mater University of Fribourg
Signature Frederick Weld Signature.jpg

Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld GCMG (9 May 1823 – 20 July 1891), was a New Zealand politician and a governor of various British colonies. He was the sixth Premier of New Zealand, and later served as Governor of Western Australia, Governor of Tasmania, and Governor of the Straits Settlements.

Prime Minister of New Zealand head of the New Zealand government

The Prime Minister of New Zealand is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.

Governor of Western Australia vice-regal representative of the Australian monarch in Western Australia

The Governor of Western Australia is the representative in Western Australia of the Queen of Australia, Elizabeth II. As with the other governors of the Australian states, the Governor of Western Australia performs constitutional, ceremonial and community functions, including:

Governor of Tasmania vice-regal representative of the Australian monarch in Tasmania

The Governor of Tasmania is the representative in the Australian state of Tasmania of Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The Governor performs the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as the Governor-General of Australia does at the national level.


Early life

Weld was born near Bridport, Dorset, England, on 9 May 1823. His mother, Christina Maria Clifford, was the daughter of Baron Clifford of Chudleigh. Both of his parents were from old recusant Catholic families. [1]

Bridport market town in Dorset, England

Bridport is a market town in Dorset, England, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) inland from the English Channel near the confluence of the River Brit and its tributary the Asker. Its origins are Saxon and it has a long history as a rope-making centre. On the coast and within the town's boundary is West Bay, a small fishing harbour previously known as Bridport Harbour.

Dorset County of England

Dorset is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The ceremonial county comprises the unitary authority areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset. Covering an area of 2,653 square kilometres (1,024 sq mi), Dorset borders Devon to the west, Somerset to the north-west, Wiltshire to the north-east, and Hampshire to the east. The county town is Dorchester which is in the south. After the reorganisation of local government in 1974 the county's border was extended eastward to incorporate the Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch. Around half of the population lives in the South East Dorset conurbation, while the rest of the county is largely rural with a low population density.

Baron Clifford of Chudleigh Title in the English peerage

Baron Clifford of Chudleigh, of Chudleigh in the County of Devon, is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1672 for Thomas Clifford. The title was created as "Clifford of Chudleigh" rather than simply "Clifford" to differentiate it from several other Clifford Baronies previously created for members of this ancient family, including the Barony of de Clifford (1299), which is extant but now held by a branch line of the Russell family, having inherited through several female lines.

His father, Humphrey Weld of Chideock, was a member of the Weld-Blundell family. Humphrey's brother Thomas was founder of the Jesuit college at Stonyhurst. Weld's upbringing was strongly grounded in the Catholic faith. His early years were spent with his parents in France. Later, he received a good education, studying at Stonyhurst before attending the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, where he studied philosophy, chemistry, languages and law. He had originally intended to pursue a military career, but was convinced otherwise by his tutor at Fribourg. He instead decided to seek a career in the colonies, and arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, on 22 April 1844.

Chideock village in the United Kingdom

Chideock is a village and civil parish in south west Dorset, England, situated close to the English Channel between Bridport and Lyme Regis. Dorset County Council's 2013 estimate of the parish population is 550.

The Weld family is an old English gentry family that claims descent from Eadric the Wild and has branches in several parts of the United Kingdom and America. The senior line descends from Sir Humphrey Weld, Lord Mayor of London, whose grandson of the same name purchased Lulworth Castle in Dorset, England, in 1641. They were notable as a recusant family prior to Catholic Emancipation in the 19th century.

Thomas Weld (cardinal) Catholic cardinal

Thomas Weld was an English Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

In New Zealand, he entered a partnership with his cousin, Charles Clifford. The two established a number of sheep stations around the country, and Weld became relatively prosperous. Weld found a life of agricultural management to be too mundane, however, and soon became active in political concerns. One of his more significant campaigns was to ward against any potential discrimination against Catholics in New Zealand. He later became active in lobbying for representative government in New Zealand.

Sir Charles Clifford, 1st Baronet New Zealand politician

Sir Charles Clifford, 1st Baronet was a New Zealand politician. He was the first Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, serving from 1854 to 1860.

In 1848, Weld declined an offer by the governor, Sir George Grey, of a seat on a proposed nominee council. In 1852 he visited England, where he published a pamphlet, Hints to Intending Sheep Farmers in New Zealand, which ran into three editions.

George Grey Premier of New Zealand (1877–1879)

Sir George Grey, KCB was a British soldier, explorer, colonial administrator and writer. He served in a succession of governing positions: Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony, and the 11th Premier of New Zealand.

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
1853 1855 1st Wairau Independent
1858 1860 2nd Wairau Independent
1861 1866 3rd Cheviot Independent

When the creation of the New Zealand Parliament was announced, Weld stood for election. He became a member of the 1st Parliament as the representative of Wairau, an electorate in the northeast of the South Island; he was declared elected unopposed. [2] The main political division of the day was between "centralists" (favouring a strong central government) and "provincialists" (favouring strong regional governments). On this spectrum, Weld established himself as a moderate centralist, although he tended to oppose the extremes of either side.

New Zealand Parliament legislative body of New Zealand

The New Zealand Parliament is the legislature of New Zealand, consisting of the Queen of New Zealand (Queen-in-Parliament) and the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Queen is usually represented by her governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The New Zealand Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world. It has met in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, since 1865.

The 1st New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. It opened on 24 May 1854, following New Zealand's first general election. It was dissolved on 15 September 1855 in preparation for that year's election. 37 Members of the House of Representatives (MHRs) represented 24 electorates.

Wairau was a parliamentary electorate in the Marlborough Region of New Zealand. It was one of the initial 24 New Zealand electorates and existed from 1853 until its abolition in 1938, when it was succeeded by the Marlborough electorate. The electorate had 13 representatives during its existence. The 1861 election in the Wairau electorate was notable in that a later Premier, Frederick Weld, was unexpectedly and narrowly defeated by William Henry Eyes.

Weld was also a member of the brief "cabinet" formed around James FitzGerald. This represented an attempt by Parliament to assume direct responsibility for administering New Zealand. Acting Governor Robert Wynyard managed to block this move, however, and Weld's role as a "minister" came to an end. Despite the failure of the FitzGerald "cabinet", Weld was pleased that Catholics were able to participate fully in politics. The fact that Charles Clifford, also a Catholic, had become Speaker was also encouraging to him.

Weld resigned from Parliament in June 1855, a short while before the end of its first term, returning to England for a brief time. [1] [3] When he returned, he was elected to the 2nd Parliament in a by-election, again representing Wairau. [4] He briefly returned to England again in late 1858 to marry his second cousin, Filumena Mary Anne Lisle Phillipps, daughter of Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps De Lisle and a great grandchild of the 4th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh like Weld, with whom he would have thirteen children. [1]

Cabinet minister

In 1860, Weld was invited to join Edward Stafford's government, taking over responsibility for Native Affairs from William Richmond. In this role, Weld had to contend with conflicts such as the First Taranaki War. Although Weld disliked the prospect of war, and believed that Governor George Grey had mishandled the situation, he believed strongly in the need to assert the power of the government, describing it as a "painful duty". [1] He unexpectedly lost the 1861 election in Wairau against William Henry Eyes, [5] but due to the staggered election dates successfully stood in the neighbouring Cheviot electorate a fortnight later, where he defeated Charles Hunter Brown. [6] Weld lost his ministerial position when the Stafford administration was defeated.

In 1864, the government of Frederick Whitaker resigned due to disputes with the Governor. The point in question was who should bear responsibility for funding British troops stationed in New Zealand. Weld, believing that it was British ineptitude that caused conflict with the Māori in the first place, strongly objected to Grey's demands that Parliament should fund the troops. Weld instead believed that British troops should be removed from New Zealand altogether, and be replaced by local forces.

Premier of New Zealand

Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, ca 1865 Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld.jpg
Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, ca 1865

As Premier, Weld met with mixed success. In 1865 the capital was indeed moved to Wellington, and his proposals for Māori relations were adopted. These two things generated considerable bitterness, however – Aucklanders were angry about the change of capital, and Māori were angry about the confiscation of over a million acres (4,000 km²) of land in the Waikato area. Weld's other success, the withdrawal of British troops from New Zealand, was also controversial, and generated considerable hostility from the Governor. In addition, the government's financial situation was precarious. A little less than a year after taking office, Weld's government resigned.

Colonial governorships

Weld, suffering from poor health and stress, retired from politics in 1866, and returned to England the following year. However his health improved, and he began working again. In 1869 he published Notes on New Zealand Affairs, and in March of the same year he began a career as a British colonial governor with an appointment to the post of Governor of Western Australia.

Governor of Western Australia

Weld arrived in Western Australia in September, 1869. He immediately embarked on a series of tours of the state, which saw him travel about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) on horseback in his first six months in office. Impressed by the state's isolation, he urged the establishment of telegraph lines and improvements to transportation. In March, 1870, he sent John Forrest to explore and survey a possible route for a telegraph line between Albany and Adelaide. This was later built, and by 1874, the state had more than 900 miles (1400 km) of operational telegraph line. Weld also oversaw the establishment of a steamship service along the coast, and the beginnings of a rail system.

Weld saw his appointment to the governorship as a mandate to institute similar constitutional changes to that achieved in New Zealand. With the enthusiastic support of his Colonial Secretary Frederick Barlee, he set about promoting representative government. At the first opportunity, Weld introduced a Bill which provided for the election of 12 Members of the Legislative Council, to sit with six official and nominee members. The Bill was eventually passed on 1 June 1870. Barlee then began agitating for responsible government, and in 1874 the Legislative Council passed a resolution calling for it. Although Weld did not think that Western Australia was ready for responsible government, he accepted the situation and passed on the request to the Colonial Office in London. The Colonial Office were strongly against granting responsible government, and were critical of Weld for allowing the situation to arise. In 1874, Weld went on leave to New Zealand to look after his partnership affairs. He is said to have remarked, upon his departure, "At last she moves", in reference to the improvements he perceived in Western Australia. [7] On this return, he was transferred to the post of Governor of Tasmania, and the issue of responsible government was dropped until 1890.

Other colonial governorships

Weld was Governor of Tasmania from 1875 to 1880. He found the role much less taxing than in Western Australia, as Tasmania already had responsible government and his main duty was to preside at meetings of the Executive Council. From 1880 to 1887, he was Governor of the Straits Settlements, consisting of Malacca, Penang, and Singapore. Louch (1966) writes of Weld's seven years in Singapore: "It was there with his wealth of experience that he found the fullest scope for his talents as a colonial administrator, and where he is best remembered now." He was created in the Order of St Michael and St George first CMG (1875), then KCMG (1880) and ultimately GCMG (1885).

He was a devout Catholic all his life, and the Pope made him a knight of the Order of Pius IX.

Governor of Straits Settlements

Malay States Administration

In 1880, Sir Frederick Weld arrived in the Straits Settlements. He began to take personal interest in the development of the Malay States. In the middle of 1881, Weld visited the town of Taiping, in Perak. He found "the revenue increasing and everything going on excellent well..." but "labour for public works and roads and to develop other industries and sources of revenue besides tin-mining," he lamented, "is the great want". he also reported that:

"Water supply for Taiping from the hill (Maxwell Hill), the roads to Krian, which will connect Taiping town centre with Province Wellesley, and a rail and tramway from Taiping to the port (Port Weld, which was named after him) are amongst the next most necessary works to be undertaken. the town of Taiping has been much improved since the fire, which took place rather more than a year ago; new streets have been laid out to considerable width, and a better class of houses has been built"

The construction of the Taiping – Port Weld railway was the beginning of a major transformation altering radically the landscape of the Malay Peninsula. It also brought the first influx of Indians (mainly Tamils) and Ceylonese to Perak. Sir Frederick Weld was in Taiping again in 1883 where he "inspected everything". He spent time going down the Port Weld railway line, then in the course of construction, "on a truck behind the Engine". He also put into effect plans to build a telegraph line along the road linking Taiping with Province Wellesley. It was nearing completion after which a railway along the same route would be constructed.

Later life

Weld finally retired from political life in 1887, although he remained active in other fields of work. In 1891, visiting the Straits Settlements once again, he contracted a serious illness, and returned to England. He died in Chideock on 20 July 1891.

Places named after Weld

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Graham, Jeanine. "Weld, Frederick Aloysius". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  2. "Election of a Member to represent the Wairau in the General Assembly". Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. XII (597). 13 August 1853. p. 7. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  3. "To the Electors of the Wairau". Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. XIV. 13 June 1855. p. 2. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  4. "Local Intelligence". Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. XVII (43). 29 May 1858. p. 2. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  5. "Defeat of Mr Weld at Wairau". Wellington Independent. XVI (1500). 26 February 1861. p. 3. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  6. "Local Intelligence". Lyttelton Times . XV (868). 6 March 1861. p. 4. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  7. ""At Last She Moves" A Pioneer Of Empire". The West Australian . Perth: National Library of Australia. 1 July 1950. p. 20. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  8. Forrest, John (1875). Explorations in Australia. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, & Searle. Retrieved 6 May 2012.

Further reading

Government offices
Preceded by
Frederick Whitaker
Premier of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Edward Stafford
Preceded by
Sir Benjamin Pine
Governor of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Sir William Robinson
Preceded by
Charles Du Cane
Governor of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Major Sir George Strahan
Preceded by
Sir William Robinson
Governor of the Straits Settlements
Succeeded by
Cecil Clementi Smith
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Wairau
Succeeded by
William Wells
Preceded by
William Wells
Succeeded by
William Henry Eyes
Preceded by
Edward Jollie
Member of Parliament for Cheviot
Succeeded by
David Monro