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Sir James Bell Donald JP (13 October 1879 – 4 December 1971) was a United Party Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sir James Donald
James Donald, 1928.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Auckland East
In office
14 November 1928 – 2 December 1931
Preceded byJohn A. Lee
Succeeded byBill Schramm
Personal details
Born13 October 1879
Auckland, New Zealand
Died4 December 1971
New Zealand
Political partyUnited


Early lifeEdit

Donald was born in Auckland on 13 October 1879.[1] He was the second son of Mr. Alexander Bell Donald, a local merchant and trader, who owned the firm of Donald and Edeuborough. Donald studied at Queen's College and then entered his father's profession and would later become the firm's managing director. By the age of 48 he became a justice of the peace.[1]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1928–1931 23rd Auckland East United

He won the Auckland East electorate off Labour’s John A. Lee in 1928, by 37 votes (Lee put his loss down to alterations in the electorate boundary with Parnell to keep the two Auckland race-courses in a "wet" electorate).[2] According to Olsen, Lee's opponent was "a staunch anti-militarist who had been gaoled during the [Great] war".[3] He was a cabinet minister from 1928 to 1931 in the United Government (Postmaster-General, Minister of Telegraphs, and Minister in charge of Public Service Superannuation, Friendly Societies, and National Provident Fund Departments).[4]

When he retired (to general surprise) in 1931, the electorate went back to Labour[5] due to vote-splitting as there were four anti-Labour candidates: W. H. Horton from United, H. P. Burton (who came second) and Ellen Melville from Reform and an Independent J. A. Arthur. This handed the seat back to Labour on a plate.[6]

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[7] In 1935 he stood again for the Auckland East seat as the newly formed Democrat Party's candidate. He placed third out of four candidates.[8]

He was later appointed a Knight Bachelor, for services to the community, in the 1969 New Year Honours.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Biographical Sketches". New Zealand Herald. LXV (20104). 15 November 1928. p. 13. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  2. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 193.
  3. ^ Olsen 1977.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 80.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 233.
  6. ^ Bassett, Michael (1982). Three Party Politics in New Zealand 1911 - 1931. Auckland: Historical Publications. pp. 61–62. ISBN 0-86870-006-1.
  7. ^ "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post. 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  8. ^ The General Election, 1935. National Library. 1936. pp. 1–35. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  9. ^ "No. 44742". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 1 January 1969. p. 41.


  • Olsen, Erik (1977). John A. Lee. Dunedin: University of Otago Press. ISBN 0-908569-04-1.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
Political offices
Preceded by
William Burgoyne Taverner
Minister of Customs
Succeeded by
George Forbes
Preceded by
William Nosworthy
and Minister of Telegraphs

Succeeded by
Joseph Ward
Preceded by
Joseph Ward
Succeeded by
Adam Hamilton
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
John A. Lee
Member of Parliament for Auckland East
Succeeded by
Bill Schramm