1895 Christchurch mayoral election

The Christchurch mayoral election held on 27 November 1895 was contested by city councillors Howell Widdowson and Harry Beswick. Both candidates were young solicitors with few prior civic roles. Initially, the incumbent mayor—Walter Cooper—was one of the candidates but he withdrew. Widdowson attracted some controversy over the question whether he put his nomination forward ahead of a more senior city councillor; many voters still expected at the time that a mayoralty should be assigned to the most senior councillor. Another important issue for many voters was that Widdowson was a tee-totaller and was thus regarded as a prohibitionist, with Beswick seen as the representative of the liquor lobby. Beswick won the election with a clear majority and was installed as mayor of Christchurch on 18 December 1895.

1895 Christchurch mayoral election
Christchurch COA pre-1949.jpg
← 1894 27 November 1895 1896 →
  Beswick obit.gif
Candidate Harry Beswick Howell Widdowson
Party Independent Independent
Popular vote 844 566
Percentage 59.86 40.14

Mayor before election

Walter Cooper

Elected Mayor

Harry Beswick

Background and campaignEdit

Walter Cooper, the incumbent mayor, had served one term; at the time a mayoral term was one year. Cooper had always maintained that mayors should only serve one term. A public meeting was called for 30 October 1895 to persuade Cooper to stand for another term. Cooper acceded to the request but would retire from any contest as soon as another candidate came forward who met "his standard" as he had laid down a year earlier.[1] Cooper's remarks were met with surprise by some as councillor Widdowson had already declared his intention to stand for mayor; presumably Widdowson did not meet Cooper's standards.[2][3]

Widdowson had received a requisition and agreed to stand for the mayoralty; both the requisition and his acceptance were published in newspapers on 19 October.[4][5] Councillor George Bonnington, a chemist who represented the South-East Ward, was also asked to stand but he declined.[4][6] On 29 October, a meeting was held by supporters of Widdowson. They organised themselves into committees for the election campaign.[7] Thus, both Cooper and Widdowson were official candidates by early November,[8] and Widdowson was formally nominated to the returning officer on 12 November.[9] On 15 November, it was announced that Cooper had withdrawn from the contest.[10]

Nominations for the mayoralty closed on 18 November. Beswick received a requisition that day, acceded to the request, and put his nomination forward.[11][12] With an election required, the election day was set for 27 November[13] and the city council offices were the only polling booth.[12]

Beswick held a meeting for his supporters on 19 November where election committees were formed.[14] Neither candidate called a public meeting.

At the time, it was still seen as customary by many for the mayoralty to be awarded to the most senior councillor. That person was councillor John Tippett Smith and when accusations came up that Widdowson had jumped the queue, Widdowson was adamant that he had only acceded to the requisition after Smith had decided to stand aside.[15] Smith, however, stated that he had decided to stand after having received his own requisition. His supporters had asked him to see who else would stand before announcing his own candidacy. Nobody had asked him on behalf of Widdowson whether he intended to stand before Widdowson's nomination was announced. Smith then decided not to put his name forward as a three-person contest would have favoured Cooper and his main objective was for Cooper not to be re-elected.[16]

CandidatesEdit

Both candidates were young solicitors with little prior public service. Their early Christchurch careers had many parallels, with them attending the same school and being admitted to the bar within three days of one another.[17]

BeswickEdit

Harry Joseph Beswick (born 1860) was born in nearby Kaiapoi. His father was active in local political affairs and had been a member of parliament for the Kaiapoi electorate in the 1860s.[18] Beswick received his schooling in Christchurch at Christ's College (1873–79)[19] and was admitted to the bar on 14 September 1883.[20] Beswick was a bachelor and known for his sporting successes.[21]

WiddowsonEdit

Howell Young Widdowson (born 1859) was also educated at Christ's College (1873–77).[22] He was admitted to the bar on 11 September 1883.[23] Widdowson married in April 1885 at Trinity Congregational Church in Christchurch.[24]

ResultsEdit

The election was held on Wednesday, 27 November 1885, from 9 am to 6 pm,[13] with Henry Thomson acting as returning officer.[25] To many people, it was an important issue that Widdowson was a tee-totaller as prohibition was heavily lobbied for, especially by women.[25][26] At 7:05 pm, the returning officer released the results and declared Beswick elected. The turnout was the highest that had ever been recorded in Christchurch, with the previous high set the previous year, exceeded by either more than 100[27] or 200 votes[25] (sources differ). It was noted that Beswick was the first bachelor ever elected as Christchurch mayor.[25]

1895 Christchurch mayoral election[25][28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Harry Beswick 844 59.86
Independent Howell Widdowson 566 40.14
Majority 278 19.72
Informal votes 6 0.42
Turnout 1,416
Registered electors 2,340

Beswick was installed as mayor on 18 December 1895.[29]

In October 1896, Mayor Beswick decided to stand for Parliament in the three-member City of Christchurch electorate. He was eventually backed by the National Conservative Association.[30] Beswick did not stand for re-election as mayor, but a contest was held by former mayor Cooper and senior councillor John Tippett Smith.[31]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Mayoral Election". The Star. No. 5402. 31 October 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  2. ^ "To the Editor". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10793. 2 November 1895. p. 6. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Mayoral Election". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10794. 4 November 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Town and Country". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10781. 19 October 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Public Notices". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10781. 19 October 1895. p. 1. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1903). "Mr. George Bonnington". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  7. ^ "City Mayoralty". The Star. No. 5401. 30 October 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Town and Country". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10799. 9 November 1895. p. 1. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  9. ^ "News of the Day". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9263. 14 November 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  10. ^ "News of the Day". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9264. 15 November 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  11. ^ "City Council". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9267. 19 November 1895. p. 1. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b "City Council". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9267. 19 November 1895. p. 6. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Christchurch City Council". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10813. 26 November 1895. p. 8. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  14. ^ "News of the Day". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9267. 20 November 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  15. ^ "News of the Day". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9272. 25 November 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  16. ^ "The Mayoral Election". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9273. 26 November 1895. p. 6. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  17. ^ "The Mayoral Election". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10814. 27 November 1895. p. 4. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  18. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 185. OCLC 154283103.
  19. ^ Macdonald, George. "Harry Joseph Beswick". Macdonald Dictionary. Canterbury Museum. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  20. ^ "Local & General". The Star. No. 4797. 14 September 1883. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Ex Mayors". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1903. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  22. ^ Macdonald, George. "Howell Young Widdowson". Macdonald Dictionary. Canterbury Museum. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Local & General". The Star. No. 4794. 11 September 1883. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Marriage". The Press. Vol. XLI, no. 6111. 20 April 1885. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  25. ^ a b c d e "Mayoral Elections". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCIV, no. 10815. 28 November 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  26. ^ "To-Day". The Star. No. 5425. 28 November 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  27. ^ "The Mayoral Elections". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9275. 28 November 1895. p. 6. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  28. ^ "City Council". The Press. Vol. LII, no. 9275. 28 November 1895. p. 1. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  29. ^ "Mayoral Installations". The Star. No. 5442. 18 December 1895. p. 3. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  30. ^ "In a Nutshell". The Star. No. 5704. 24 October 1896. p. 4. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  31. ^ "Mayoral Elections". Lyttelton Times. Vol. XCVI, no. 11118. 18 November 1896. p. 5. Retrieved 6 February 2019.