Thomas S. Weston

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Thomas S. Weston
Thomas Shailer Weston, 1882.jpg
Portrait of Weston from circa 1882
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Grey Valley
In office
16 June  8 November 1881
Preceded by Edward Masters
Succeeded by Joseph Petrie
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Inangahua
In office
9 December 1881  17 March 1883
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded by Edward Shaw
Personal details
Thomas Shailer Weston

7 June 1836
London, England
Died15 October 1912(1912-10-15) (aged 76)
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Relations Warwick Weston (brother) [1]
Agnes Louisa Weston (daughter-in-law)
Tom Weston (great-grandnephew)
Children Thomas Shailer Weston, Jr. (son)
Claude Weston (son)

Thomas Shailer Weston (7 June 1836 – 15 October 1912), often referred to as Thomas S. Weston, was a judge and 19th-century Member of Parliament from Westland, New Zealand. Weston was the patriarch of one of two dominant Canterbury families of the legal profession.

Westland District Territorial authority in West Coast, New Zealand

Westland District is a territorial authority on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. It is administered by the Westland District Council. The district's population is 8,890.


Early life

Weston was born in London in 1836, the son of the printer John James Weston and Mary Weston. [2] He was educated at private schools in London. He arrived in New Zealand with his parents and four brothers in 1850, first settling in New Plymouth. [3] [4] He received further secondary education in New Zealand, and in June 1861, he was admitted to the bar by George Arney, the Chief Justice. [5]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

New Plymouth City in Taranaki, New Zealand

New Plymouth is the major city of the Taranaki Region on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is named after the English city of Plymouth from where the first English settlers migrated. The New Plymouth District, which includes New Plymouth City and several smaller towns, is the 10th largest district in New Zealand, and has a population of 74,184 – about two-thirds of the total population of the Taranaki Region and 1.7% of New Zealand's population. This includes New Plymouth City (58,300), Waitara (6,483), Inglewood (3,380), Oakura (1,359), Okato (561) and Urenui (429).

Sir George Alfred Arney was the second Chief Justice of New Zealand.

Professional career

He practised law in New Plymouth until 1863, when he moved to Invercargill. [5] His first advertisement appeared in The Southland Times in August of that year. [6] His clients there included the Union Bank of Australia, the town council, and various businesses. He was chosen as Southland's representative to the 1865 New Zealand Exhibition in Dunedin, but could not travel there due to unfavourable weather conditions. [5]

Invercargill Place in South Island, New Zealand

Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. It is the commercial centre of the Southland region. The city lies in the heart of the wide expanse of the Southland Plains on the Oreti or New River some 18 km north of Bluff, which is the southernmost town in the South Island. It sits amid rich farmland that is bordered by large areas of conservation land and marine reserves, including Fiordland National Park covering the south-west corner of the South Island and the Catlins coastal region.

The Southland Times is the regional daily paper for Southland, including Invercargill, and neighbouring parts of Otago, in New Zealand.

The Union Bank of Australia was an Australian bank in operation from 1837 to 1951.

Weston then moved to Auckland; his name first appeared in the Daily Southern Cross in June 1865. [5] [7] Like his brother Warwick, Weston had interests in gold mining. He set up the Great Republic Gold Mining Company in Karaka in the Thames District, was its majority shareholder and its manager. [8] The family's residence was in central Auckland, on the corner of Jermyn Street (which disappeared when Anzac Avenue was built) and Eden Street (now Eden Crescent); [9] they later lived in Parnell. [10] He practised in Auckland until he was appointed district judge in November 1873 for the Hawke's Bay. [5] [11] The district court judge had previously been filled by Singleton Rochfort, but the position was disestablished, as Rochfort had caused trouble to the government. When Weston was appointed, Rochfort pointed that this move was illegal, as he had first right of refusal under previous agreements. After some deliberations, the government renamed the court from Hawkes Bay to East Coast [12] to circumvent the agreement, and Rochfort took the premier, Julius Vogel, to the Supreme Court over the affair. [13] Weston remained judge in Napier until February 1875. [5]

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest urban area in the country, with an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. A diverse and multicultural city, Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.

Thames-Coromandel District Territorial authority in Waikato, New Zealand

The Thames-Coromandel District is a territorial authority district in the North Island of New Zealand, covering all the Coromandel Peninsula and extending south to Hikutaia.

Parnell, New Zealand

Parnell is an upmarket suburb in Auckland, New Zealand. It is one of New Zealand's most affluent suburbs, consistently ranked within the top three wealthiest, and is often billed as Auckland's "oldest suburb" since it dates from the earliest days of the European settlement of Auckland in 1841. It is characterised by its mix of tree lined streets with large estates; redeveloped industrial zones with Edwardian town houses and 1920s bay villas; and its hilly topography that allows for views of the port, the Waitematā Harbour, Rangitoto Island and the Auckland Domain. To its west lies the Auckland Domain, to the south Newmarket, and to the north the Ports of Auckland.

Following an enquiry into the conduct of the justice for Otago, Henry Samuel Chapman, Parliament passed a resolution that allowed the Minister of Justice to order judges to move to a different court. Justice Gresson led the opposition of New Zealand's judges to this interference and even went to Wellington, but to no avail. In early 1875, three of New Zealand's five judges resigned over this affair: Gresson, Chapman, and the Chief Justice, George Arney. Gresson explained his objection in the following words: [14] [15]

Otago Region of New Zealand in South Island

Otago is a region of New Zealand in the south of the South Island administered by the Otago Regional Council. It has an area of approximately 32,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi), making it the country's third largest local government region. Its population was 229,200 in June 2018.

Henry Samuel Chapman Australian and New Zealand judge and politician

Henry Samuel Chapman was an Australian and New Zealand judge, colonial secretary, attorney-general, journalist and politician.

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 a governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world.

What becomes of the independence of the Judges if they may be ordered by the Minister of the day, as often as he pleases, to remove to whatever part of the colony he pleases? It is obvious that such a power is open to gross abuse, and that if these be the terms on which they hold office, the Judges are not better off than when their commission was only during pleasure.

Weston was one of the two remaining judges, and he was transferred to the West Coast of the South Island. [5] During his time on the coast, his most notable task was to chair the Westport Colliery Reserve Commission, which he conducted with Richmond Beetham. [5] At the end of 1880, Weston retired from his judgeship and undertook the unusual step of rejoining the bar. [16] He moved to Christchurch, where he established his legal practice, T. S. Weston and Co. [2] His son Henry Warwick Weston was on his staff but died in September 1894, aged 24. [17] Early in 1881, Weston and Allan Holmes of Dunedin were appointed as examiners of candidates for admission to the New Zealand bar; [18] they were the first to be appointed to this position. [5]

West Coast, New Zealand Region in South Island, New Zealand

The West Coast is a region of New Zealand on the west coast of the South Island that is administered by the West Coast Regional Council. It comprises the territorial authorities of Buller District, Grey District and Westland District. The principal towns are Westport, Greymouth, and Hokitika. The region is one of the more remote and most sparsely populated areas of the country.

South Island southernmost and largest of the two main islands in New Zealand

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area; the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

Christchurch Metropolitan area in South Island, New Zealand

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand's third-most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.

Weston took his son George into partnership in Christchurch on 6 July 1900 under the style of T. S. Weston and Son. [19] When he took Robert Beecher Ward into the partnership, the name changed to Weston and Ward. Another person joined the partnership, William Ross Lascelles, and the company name was changed to Weston Ward & Lascelles. [20] The company still exists today. [21]

His legal practice in New Plymouth was taken over by two sons, Thomas Shailer Weston, Jr. and Claude Weston, in November 1902. [22]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
1881 7th Grey Valley Independent
1881 1883 8th Inangahua Independent

Edward Masters represented the Grey Valley electorate from 1879 to 1881, [23] when he sent his resignation from Melbourne in May 1881, stating that his medical advisers feared for his life if he travelled to New Zealand in his poor state of health. [24] This caused a 16 June 1881 by-election in the electorate, which was contested by Weston, Gerard George Fitzgerald, and James Mill Morris. [25] At the time, Weston was already living in Christchurch and he arrived in Greymouth shortly before the by-election. [26] Weston beat Fitzgerald by a 3.8% vote margin, with Morris coming a distant third. [25] Masters died later in the year in Melbourne on 27 November. [27] Weston represented the Grey Valley electorate until the end of the parliamentary term on 8 November 1881, and he served alongside Richard Reeves in the two-member electorate. [28]

In the 1881 electoral redistribution, the House of Representatives increased the number of European representatives to 91 (up from 84 since the 1875–76 election) further decided that electorates should not have more than one representative, which led to 35 new electorates being formed. [29] The Grey Valley electorate was practically split, and the resulting electorates were Greymouth and Inangahua. [30] Weston received requisitions from both electorates, and accepted the one from Inangahua, and in the end, this electorate was contested by both Reeves and Weston. [31] [32] They were joined by a third candidate, William McLean. Weston won the election with a margin of 17% of the vote over Reeves. [33] Weston represented Inangahua until his resignation in 1883. [34]

Throughout his representation in Parliament, Weston was living in Christchurch. He was one of the chief proponents for a railway to be built connecting the east and west coasts of the South Island. [35]

Community roles

While in Auckland, he was vestryman at St Paul's Church, an Anglican church in Symonds Street. [36]

He was a governor of Canterbury College from 1894 to 1903, [37] and was chairman of the board of governors in 1901 and 1902, when he relocated to New Plymouth. [3] [38] During his chairmanship, the board was again in conflict with Professor Alexander William Bickerton, and Weston claimed that his role gave him the right to act on his own initiative within board policy. This stance was heavily criticised, but Weston won the point and Bickerton was removed from the teaching staff. [39]


Weston's father, John James Weston, was a printer, and he came to New Zealand intending to establish a newspaper. [40] When the family emigrated, they had five sons: John, Warwick, [1] Henry, William Joseph, and Claude. [4] In 1867, Henry Weston became the sole proprietor of the Taranaki Herald , and the Weston family had a strong connection with the Herald for the following 111 years. [41] [42]

Weston was the patriarch of one of two dominant Canterbury families of the legal profession; the other patriarch was Justice Gresson. [43]

On 22 August 1867, Weston married Maria Cracroft Hill, the second daughter of the Auckland solicitor Henry Hill. [44] She died on 29 October 1908 in New Plymouth, aged 72 years. [45]

Their first son, Thomas Shailer Weston, Jr.., was born on 3 July 1868 in Auckland. [46] He was a solicitor [47] and became a member of the New Zealand Legislative Council from 1926 until his death by suicide on 21 January 1931. [48] [49]

Their second son, Henry Warwick Weston, was born on 18 July 1870. He died on 17 September 1894 after an operation, aged 24. He was a solicitor, admitted in August 1891, and worked for his father. [17] [50]

The third son, [51] John James Weston, was born on 4 December 1872, and their first daughter, Louisa Mary Alice Weston, was born on 5 June 1874. Both died at Hokitika in September 1877 of scarlet fever; the girl on 17 or 18 September, and the boy on 20 September. [52] [53]

On 21 October 1876, the Westons had had their first twins: George Thorngate Weston and Walter Crowley Weston. Both lived to old age, with George dying in 1957, and Walter in 1961. [47] [54] [55] George Thorngate Weston was admitted to the bar in 1898. [50] Walter Weston was a solicitor. [56]

Less than two months after losing two children, on 11 October 1877, the Westons had another set of twins. Both boys died after one months: Cecil Weston on 10 November, and Arnold Weston two days later. [57]

Their youngest son, Claude Weston, was born on 28 December 1879. A crown solicitor, he was effectively the first president of the National Party. [58] He died suddenly on 10 November 1946 while contesting the Wellington Central electorate, and his wife, Agnes Louisa Weston, became the candidate instead. [59] She was later a member of the suicide squad of the New Zealand Legislative Council. [60]

George Crowley Weston was a nephew to his children. He was a Rhodes' Scholar in 1939, [61] was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, and gained his New Zealand registration in May 1938. He was a partner with Weston Ward & Lascelles. [50] A son of George Thorngate Weston, Michael George Weston, was admitted in April 1952 and joined the Weston Ward & Lascelles partnership three years later. [62] Tom Weston, a son of George Crowley Weston, is a current Queens Counsel. [63]

A son of Claude Weston, Henry Stuart Thorngate Weston, practised in New Plymouth. He died in 1955 aged 49 years. [62]

Thomas Shailer Weston Sr. died on 15 October 1912 at his Young Street residence in New Plymouth [3] and he was interred at Te Henui Cemetery. [64]


  1. 1 2 Scholefield 1940, p. 484.
  2. 1 2 Scholefield 1940, pp. 483f.
  3. 1 2 3 "Obituary". Hawera & Normanby Star. XVIII. 16 October 1912. p. 4. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  4. 1 2 "The Lych-Gate Update" (PDF). Taranaki Cathedral. December 2011. p. 6. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Cyclopedia Company Limited (1903). "Barristers And Solicitors". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand . Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  6. "Mr. Thomas S. Weston". The Southland Times . 2 (80). 11 August 1863. p. 3. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  7. "Page 1 Advertisements Column 4". Daily Southern Cross . XXI (2470). 20 June 1865. p. 1. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  8. "Application under the Mining Companies Limited Liability Act, 1865". Daily Southern Cross . XXIV (3406). 16 June 1868. p. 1. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  9. "City West". Daily Southern Cross . XXIII (3026). 8 April 1867. p. 3. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  10. "Wanted". Daily Southern Cross . XXVII (4436). 13 November 1871. p. 1. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  11. "Miscellaneous". Daily Southern Cross . XXIX (5070). 20 November 1873. p. 3. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  12. "The Daily Southern Cross". Daily Southern Cross . XXIX (5082). 4 December 1873. p. 2. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  13. "Miscellaneous". West Coast Times (2371). 2 November 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  14. McLintock, A. H., ed. (22 April 2009) [originally published in 1966]. "Gresson, Henry Barnes". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  15. "The Retirement of the Judges". The New Zealand Herald . XII (4191). 20 April 1875. p. 5. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  16. "From the Bench to the Bar". Manawatu Herald. III (48). 15 February 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  17. 1 2 "Henry Warwick Weston". The Star (5057). 17 September 1894. p. 3. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  18. "Untitled". Inangahua Times. II. 7 March 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  19. "Partnership Notice". The Press . LVII (10704). 10 July 1900. p. 1. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  20. Cooke 1969, pp. 273f.
  21. "Weston Ward & Lascelles". Weston Ward & Lascelles. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  22. "Partnership Notice". Taranaki Herald . L (12134). 29 November 1902. p. 5. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  23. Wilson 1985, p. 219.
  24. "Resignation of Mr Masters, M.H.R." The Evening Post . XXI (107). 9 May 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  25. 1 2 "The Grey Valley Election". West Coast Times (3808). 22 June 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  26. "To the Electors of the Grey Valley". Grey River Argus. XXIV (3983). 4 June 1881. p. 3. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  27. "Death". Grey River Argus. XXIV (4134). 9 May 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  28. Wilson 1985, pp. 229, 245.
  29. McRobie 1989, pp. 43–48.
  30. McRobie 1989, pp. 45, 49.
  31. "Untitled". The Inangahua Times. II. 12 October 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  32. "The Inangahua Times". The Inangahua Times. II. 14 October 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  33. "Nelson and Blenheim Elections". Auckland Star . XII (3540). 10 December 1881. p. 3. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  34. Wilson 1985, p. 245.
  35. "The Inangahua Times". The Inangahua Times. II. 12 October 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  36. "St Paul's Church - Meeting of Parishioners". Daily Southern Cross . XXI (2512). 7 August 1865. p. 6. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  37. Gardner et al 1973, p. 453.
  38. "Obituary". Dominion. 6 (1572). 16 October 1912. p. 8. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  39. Gardner et al 1973, p. 58.
  40. Scholefield 1940, p. 483.
  41. "Henry Weston". Puke Ariki . Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  42. Tullett 1981, p. ?.
  43. Cooke 1969, pp. 272f.
  44. "Marriage". The New Zealand Herald . IV (1179). 24 August 1867. p. 5. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  45. "Deaths". The Star (9378). 29 October 1908. p. 3. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  46. "Birth". Daily Southern Cross . XXIV (3424). 7 July 1868. p. 2. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  47. 1 2 "George Thorngate Weston". Auckland War Memorial Museum . Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  48. "Hon T. S. Weston, M.L.C." The Evening Post . CXI (17). 21 January 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  49. "The Inquest". The Evening Post . CXI (17). 21 January 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  50. 1 2 3 Cooke 1969, p. 273.
  51. "Death". West Coast Times (2645). 21 September 1877. p. 2. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  52. "Death". West Coast Times (2643). 19 September 1877. p. 2. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  53. "Deaths". The New Zealand Herald . XIV (4948). 25 September 1877. p. 7. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  54. "George Weston". CricketArchive. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  55. "Walter Weston". CricketArchive. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  56. Cooke 1969, pp. 257, 273, 438.
  57. "Deaths". West Coast Times (2691). 14 November 1877. p. 2. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  58. Gustafson 1986, pp. 14, 389.
  59. Gustafson 1986, p. 389.
  60. Wilson 1985, p. 166.
  61. McLintock, A. H., ed. (23 April 2009) [First published in 1966]. "New Zealand Rhodes Scholars". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand . Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga . Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  62. 1 2 Cooke 1969, p. 274.
  63. "Mr Thomas (Tom) Weston QC". New Zealand Bar Association . Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  64. "Personal". Taranaki Daily News. LV (129). 18 October 1912. p. 4. Retrieved 17 June 2014.

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New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Edward Masters
Member of Parliament for Grey Valley
Served alongside: Richard Reeves
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Inangahua
Succeeded by
Edward Shaw
Academic offices
Preceded by
Henry Richard Webb
Chairmen of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College
Succeeded by
Arthur Rhodes