James Stuart-Wortley (New Zealand politician)

James Frederick Stuart-Wortley JP (16 January 1833 – 27 November 1870) was a politician in New Zealand and the UK. He was New Zealand's inaugural Baby of the House and remains the youngest member of parliament in the country's history; in fact he was too young (at 20 years and 7 months) to even be legally elected.


Stuart-Wortley was born in York, UK, in 1833 and was the third son of the 2nd Lord Wharncliffe and his wife, Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Ryder.[1] He was the younger brother of the 1st Earl of Wharncliffe (1827–1899).[2] Charles Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie and James Stuart-Wortley were his uncles.[3] Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby was his maternal grandfather.

In 1850 he travelled to New Zealand as a colonist on the Charlotte Jane, one of the First Four Ships sent by the Canterbury Association.[4] In his first year, he lived with other bachelors in LytteltonCharles Bowen, Thomas Hanmer, and Charles Maunsell—in a place dubbed "Singleton House" by Charlotte Godley.[5]

He bought 500 acres (200 ha) of land at Tai Tapu near Halswell.[6] In October 1852, he purchased Run 53, located between Lake Ellesmere / Te Waihora and the Selwyn River / Waikirikiri. He on-sold the land in June 1853 and it became part of the Harman and Davie's Station.[7] Stuart-Wortley then started Hawkeswood Station in partnership with others. This station was located north of the Waiau Uwha River.[7]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1853–1855 1st Christchurch Country Independent

On 27 August 1853, he was elected to the 1st New Zealand Parliament as a representative of the Christchurch Country electorate,[8] which consisted of rural Canterbury and much of Westland. He was 20 years and 7 months when elected; so was not yet 21, the minimum age to qualify as an elector. The other qualifications in 1853 were to be male, a British subject, to own a certain value of land, and to not be serving a criminal sentence.

He resigned his seat on 18 July 1855[8] and returned to the United Kingdom.[9] His seat stayed vacant until the next election, which was held on 20 December 1855 in the Christchurch Country electorate.[10]

After the first session of Parliament finished in August 1854, Stuart-Wortley travelled with Frederick Weld from Auckland (where Parliament met in those years) to Tauranga, Maketu and Rotorua.[11]

He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in early 1858.[12] He returned to England later in 1858.[6]

In the UK, he stood for election to the House of Commons at the 1865 general election, when he was an unsuccessful Conservative Party candidate for Sheffield.[13]

Stuart-Wortley died in England in November 1870, aged 37.[14] His elder brother Edward built St Mary and St John's Church, Hardraw as a memorial to him.[15]


  1. ^ "Hon. James Frederick Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie". The Peerage. Retrieved 12 January 2012.[unreliable source]
  2. ^ "John Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 2nd Baron Wharncliffe". The Peerage. Retrieved 12 January 2012.[unreliable source]
  3. ^ "Theroff's Online Gotha, Bute". Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  4. ^ "The Charlotte Jane". Shadows of Time. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  5. ^ McLintock, A. H., ed. (27 October 2011) [originally published in 1966]. "BOWEN, Sir Charles Christopher, K.C.M.G.". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b Sewell 1980, p. 168.
  7. ^ a b Acland 1946, p. 94.
  8. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 141.
  9. ^ Cyclopedia Company 1903, p. 91.
  10. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 97.
  11. ^ "English cottage home to NZ premier's works". Waikato Times. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Notices of Motion". Daily Southern Cross. Volume XV (Issue 1112). 23 February 1858. p. 3. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  13. ^ Craig 1989, p. 273.
  14. ^ "Special Telegrams". The Star (Issue 807). 27 December 1870. p. 4. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  15. ^ "An Account of Some Yorkshire Parishes – No. 14". Yorkshire Gazette. England. 12 September 1891. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.


New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Christchurch Country
Served alongside: Jerningham Wakefield
Succeeded by
Dingley Askham Brittin
John Hall