Tommy Taylor (New Zealand politician)

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For the British politician see Thomas Edward Taylor
Tommy Taylor
T.E. Taylor.jpg
Tommy Taylor (ca 1910)
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for City of Christchurch
In office
1896  1899
In office
1902  1905
Succeeded byelectorate dissolved
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch North
In office
1908  27 July 1911
Preceded by Charles Gray
Succeeded by Leonard Isitt
29th Mayor of Christchurch
In office
27 April 1911 27 July 1911
Preceded by Charles Allison
Succeeded by John Joseph Dougall
Personal details
Born16 June 1862
Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, England
Died27 July 1911(1911-07-27) (aged 49)
NationalityNew Zealand
Political party Independent
New Liberal Party
(m. 1892)
ChildrenFive daughters and one son, including E.B.E. Taylor
OccupationImporter, estate agent

Thomas Edward Taylor (16 June 1862 – 27 July 1911) was a Christchurch mayor, New Zealand Member of Parliament, businessman and prohibitionist (advocate of temperance).


Early life

Taylor was born on 16 June 1862 in Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, England, the son of Edward Taylor and his wife, Anne Turner. The Taylors emigrated to New Zealand in 1873, arriving at Lyttelton on the Cardigan Castle on 15 November. They settled in Addington. Taylor briefly continued his education at Christchurch West School but left in 1874 for employment. [1]

For nearly 20 years, Taylor was employed by Heywood and Co (forwarding agents) and was their manager for several years. In February 1895, he became self-employed as a real estate agent and importer. [2]

Political life

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
1896 1899 13th Christchurch Independent
1902 1905 15th Christchurch Independent Liberal
1905Changed allegiance to: New Liberal
1908 1911 17th Christchurch North Liberal–Labour

Taylor stood in the City of Christchurch by-election on 13 February 1896 against Charles Lewis and Richard Molesworth Taylor. Lewis won with a majority of 402 votes, with Tommy Taylor coming second. [3] [4]

He contested the City of Christchurch electorate at the 1896 general election in December and this time was returned as a Member of Parliament. He held this seat until 1899 and from 1902 to 1905. [5]

Taylor contested the Christchurch North electorate in the 1905 general election, but lost against Charles Gray. He contested this seat again and represented Christchurch North from 1908 to 27 July 1911. [5] Taylor sat as an Independent Liberal-Labour MP and received endorsement from the Labour movement. [6] His death caused a by-election, which was won by Leonard Isitt. [7]

Independent MP

Taylor was an Independent MP. In 1905 he became the leader of the New Liberal Party. He opposed the Premier Richard Seddon of the Liberal Party over government corruption, and Seddon's support for the Licensed Trade (i.e., the Liquor Industry) and the Boer War in South Africa. Other Independent MPs associated with Taylor were George Laurenson, Leonard Isitt, Harry Bedford and Francis Fisher.

Mayor of Christchurch

Tommy Taylor grave at Addington Cemetery Tommy Taylor grave 86.JPG
Tommy Taylor grave at Addington Cemetery

Taylor was an advocate of "Municipal Socialism" and was endorsed by the Labour Party in his campaign for the Christchurch mayoralty in 1911, but he never joined a labour organisation. [8] On 27 April 1911, he was elected Mayor of Christchurch, defeating the incumbent, Charles Allison, and Henry Thacker. [9] Taylor died shortly thereafter on 27 July 1911. His funeral was the largest ever known in Christchurch. [10]

Life outside politics

Taylor was a successful importer and estate agent in Christchurch. He married Elizabeth Best Ellison in 1892. They had five daughters, and one son, Edward Bickmore Ellison Taylor, who was a member of the Christchurch City Council between 1968 and 1971.

Taylor died of a perforated gastric ulcer at Christchurch on 27 July 1911. Such was the respect he commanded that 50,000 people lined the streets of the city for his funeral procession. James McCombs, Secretary of the Christchurch Prohibition League and later a Labour Party MP, paid tribute to his co-worker and friend:

He had a worldwide outlook. There was no country, no nation, no social movement that did not command his interest. He had a passion for freedom, and his whole career was inspired by the desire that men should have the fullest opportunity for untrammelled development.

His wife died in April 1941. [11]

Further reading

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  1. Grigg, A. R. "Taylor, Thomas Edward". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  2. "Mr. Thomas Edward Taylor". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand - Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1903.
  3. "The Christchurch Election". The Star (5489). 14 February 1896. p. 2. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  4. "Christchurch Election". Hawera & Normanby Star. XXXII (3241). 14 February 1896. p. 2. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  5. 1 2 Scholefield 1950, p. 143.
  6. Gustafson 1980, p. 168.
  7. Scholefield 1950, p. 116.
  8. Gustafson 1961, p. 4.
  9. "City Council". The Press . LXVII (14029). 28 April 1911. p. 11. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  10. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (1966) accessed 6 January 2010
  11. "Obituary". The Press . LXXVII (23314). 28 April 1941. p. 2. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
George John Smith, Charles Lewis, William Whitehouse Collins
Member of Parliament for Christchurch
Served alongside: George John Smith and Charles Lewis (18961899), Harry Ell and Thomas Davey (19021905)
Succeeded by
Harry Ell, Charles Lewis, William Whitehouse Collins
Preceded by
Harry Ell, George John Smith, William Whitehouse Collins
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Charles Gray
Member of Parliament for Christchurch North
Succeeded by
Leonard Isitt
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Allison
Mayor of Christchurch
Succeeded by
John Joseph Dougall