Open main menu

Thomas Dick (politician)

Thomas Dick (13 August 1823 – 5 February 1900) was a 19th-century New Zealand politician. Originally a merchant, he worked in London and then represented his firm on Saint Helena for seven years. From there, he was sent to Dunedin as the company's representative; he emigrated with an extended family. He soon became involved in politics and was Superintendent of Otago Province from 1865 until 1867. Over a period of 24 years, he represented various Dunedin electorates in Parliament and was Colonial Secretary (1880–1884), Minister of Justice from 1881 to 1882, and Minister of Education from 1881 to 1884. A deeply religious man, he was involved in many church affairs. He was one of the founders of Hanover Street Baptist Church; the building is now classified as Category I by Heritage New Zealand.

Thomas Dick
Thomas Dick, 1882.jpg
Thomas Dick in 1882
5th Superintendent of Otago Province
In office
4 August 1865 – 26 February 1867
Preceded byJohn Hyde Harris
Succeeded byJames Macandrew
17th Colonial Secretary of New Zealand
In office
5 March 1880 – 16 August 1884
GovernorThe Lord Rosmead
James Prendergast
The Baron Stanmore
William Jervois
Preceded byJohn Hall
Succeeded byWilliam Montgomery
7th Minister of Justice
In office
23 April 1881 – 11 October 1882
Preceded byWilliam Rolleston
Succeeded byEdward Connolly
3rd Minister of Education
In office
15 December 1880 – 16 August 1884
Preceded byWilliam Rolleston
Succeeded byWilliam Montgomery
Personal details
Born(1823-08-13)13 August 1823
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died5 February 1900(1900-02-05) (aged 76)
Dunedin, New Zealand


Early lifeEdit

Dick was born in Edinburgh, the son of Thomas Dick and Marjorie Dick (née Sherriff). The family moved to London, but he was sent back to Edinburgh for his education. He was employed by London merchandise firms and his second employer sent him to Saint Helena as their company representative in 1850 for seven years. He was transferred to Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1857, arriving there with his wife, four children, his wife's mother (Elizabeth Darling) and his wife's siblings on the ship Bosworth on 26 November.[1][2] He became an auctioneer in Dunedin.[1]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1860–1862 3rd City of Dunedin Independent
1862–1863 3rd City of Dunedin Independent
1866 4th Port Chalmers Independent
1866–1867 4th Port Chalmers Independent
1879–1881 7th City of Dunedin Independent
1881–1884 8th Dunedin West Independent

Dick was active in politics in the Otago District of New Zealand. He was elected to the Otago Provincial Council on 12 February 1859.[1] He was Provincial Secretary for several years[3] and was Superintendent from 1865–1867.[1]

The 1865 election for the Superintendency was caused by the resignation on 23 June 1865[4] of John Hyde Harris, who claimed significant differences in opinion with his executive, as well as a need to devote more time to his private financial affairs, as reasons for his resignation.[5] At the nomination meeting, Dick, Henry Clapcott and Edward McGlashan were proposed.[6][7] Clapcott had been on the Executive of the Provincial Council from May 1864 (when he was first elected onto the Council) until April 1865.[8] McGlashan had been on the first Council (1853–1855)[9] and had represented the City of Dunedin electorate in Parliament from 1860 until his resignation in 1862.[10] Clapcott withdrew his candidacy (apparently, he was not well received by the voters) and resigned from the Council a month later.[11][12] The election was held on 4 August 1865[13] and with 990 votes to 565, Dick achieved a clear majority.[14]

He represented four Dunedin electorates, first the City of Dunedin electorate from 1860 to 1862 and 1862 to 1863, then the Port Chalmers electorate in 1866 and 1866–1867, then the City of Dunedin electorate again from 1879 to 1881, then the Dunedin West electorate from 1881 to 1884,[15] when he was defeated by William Downie Stewart by 504 votes to 480 in the 1884 election.[16] Previously he had not been defeated; he had resigned the seat he then held in 1862, 1863, 1866, 1867 and 1881.[15] Dick contested the Dunedin West electorate again in the 1887 election, but he was again defeated by Stewart by a similar margin (708 votes to 695).[17] He was then offered to be appointed to the Legislative Council, but he declined and retired from politics.[1]

In Port Chalmers, Dick was elected on 17 March 1866 and resigned on 15 October 1866. He successfully contested the 15 December 1866 by-election, but resigned again on 26 April 1867.[18] David Forsyth Main succeeded him through the 1867 by-election.[19]

Dick served in three Ministries: Hall, Whitaker, and the third Atkinson.[20] He was Colonial Secretary from 5 March 1880 and held this role continuously until the defeat of the third Atkinson Ministry on 16 August 1884.[21] He was appointed Minister of Education on 15 December 1880 in the Hall Ministry and also continuously served in this role until 16 August 1884.[21] He was appointed Minister of Justice on 23 April 1881 in the Hall Ministry and held this role until 11 October 1882 during the term of the Whitaker Ministry.[22] He was Postmaster-General and Electric Telegraph Commissioner in the Whitaker Ministry (11 October 1882 – 25 September 1883).[22]

The author of The History of Otago says about Dick that "he distinguished himself more by an assiduous devotion to duty than by any display of brilliance."[23]


Dick was deeply involved in church matters. He became a baptist on Saint Helena, but was open-minded to all other evangelical churches. He was one of the original trustees of Knox Church in Dunedin. As the population grew during the gold mining days, he was one of the founders Hanover Street Baptist Church and became one of the trustees. In 1991, the church building was classified a Category I historic place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (since renamed to Heritage New Zealand), with registration number 4792.[24]

Family and deathEdit

In London, he married Mary Barber in 1846.[1] A daughter, Eliza Mary, was born the following year. His daughter married Henry Purdie in 1872[25] and died on 31 July 1892 in Christchurch[26] and is buried at Linwood Cemetery.[27]

His first wife died in 1849, and he remarried in 1850 at Saint Helena to Elizabeth Clarrissa Darling, and there were two sons and one daughter by this marriage.[1] His wife's mother and siblings had emigrated with them, and many of the Dick and Darling family are buried in the family grave at the Dunedin Southern Cemetery. His son, Thomas Hudson Dick (b. 1852, Saint Helena – d. 19 June 1921). His last address was in the Dunedin suburb of Mornington.[28] His daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Low died on 9 September 1924. Both are buried in the family grave.[28][29]

His son, James Bertram Dick (b. 1859), died on 23 April 1930. His last address was George Street, Dunedin. He is also buried at Dunedin Southern Cemetery, but not in the family grave.[30]

His mother-in-law, Elizabeth Darling, who had been born on Saint Helena, died on 9 April 1883.[31] His sister-in-law, Agnes Darling, married Andrew Fleming. From 1865, 'Dick & Fleming' traded as land agents.[32] Agnes Fleming died at her residence in Molesworth Street, Wellington on 16 June 1899 and was also interred at Dunedin Southern Cemetery.[33][34] Another sister-in-law, Charlotte Darling, married Henry Wirgman Robinson. She died at Naseby on 26 October 1873 in childbirth, aged 35, and was also buried in the family grave.[35][36]

Thomas Dick's second wife died on 29 April 1869 at their residence 'Viewmount' in Queen Street, Dunedin.[37] She is also buried at South Dunedin Cemetery.[38]

He remarried in 1871 to Elizabeth Reid Walker (née Stuart) at Invercargill. She was the widow of Frederick Walker (d. 1866[39]),[1][40] who was Provincial Treasurer of Otago[41] and whom Dick knew from the voyage on the Bosworth.[2][42]

Dick died at his residence 'Viewmount' on 5 February 1900. He was survived by his third wife, one daughter and his two sons.[42] He is buried at the Dunedin Southern Cemetery.[43]

Dick Street in Kihikihi is named for him.[44] Elizabeth Reid Dick died in 1906 and is buried in the family grave.[45]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McLintock, A. H., ed. (23 April 2009) [1966]. "DICK, Thomas". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Shipping News". Otago Witness (313). 28 November 1857. p. 4. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  3. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1905). "The Hon. Thomas Dick". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Otago & Southland Provincial Districts. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Provinces 1848–77". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Resignation of the Superintendent of Otago". Colonist. VIII (801). 30 June 1865. p. 3. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  6. ^ "The Superintendency". Otago Witness (712). 21 July 1865. p. 5. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  7. ^ "The Nomination for the Superintendency". Bruce Herald. III (67). 20 July 1865. p. 4. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  8. ^ Scholefield 1950, pp. 217, 220.
  9. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 221.
  10. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 215.
  11. ^ "By Electric Telegraph". North Otago Times. IV (75). 27 July 1865. p. 2. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Dunedin". North Otago Times. IV (79). 24 August 1865. p. 3. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  13. ^ "The Superintendency". Otago Witness (714). 5 August 1865. p. 11. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  14. ^ "The Superintendency". Otago Witness (715). 12 August 1865. p. 11. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  15. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 192.
  16. ^ "The General Election, 1884". National Library. 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  17. ^ "The General Election, 1887". National Library. 1887. p. 3. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  18. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 103.
  19. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 218.
  20. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 102.
  21. ^ a b Wilson 1985, pp. 68–69.
  22. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 68.
  23. ^ McLintock 1949, p. 497.
  24. ^ "Hanover Street Baptist Church". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  25. ^ "Births, Marriages, and Deaths". Otago Daily Times (3300). 3 September 1872. p. 3. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  26. ^ "Deaths". Otago Witness (2006). 4 August 1892. p. 25. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  27. ^ "Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  28. ^ a b "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  29. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  30. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  31. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  32. ^ "Page 18 Advertisements Column 1". Otago Witness (697). 8 April 1865. p. 18. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  33. ^ "Deaths". Otago Daily Times (11455). 21 June 1899. p. 4. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  34. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  35. ^ "Death". Otago Daily Times (3659). 27 October 1873. p. 2. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  36. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  37. ^ "Deaths". Otago Daily Times (2257). 30 April 1869. p. 2. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  38. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  39. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  40. ^ "Marriage". Otago Witness (440). 5 May 1860. p. 4. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  41. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 219.
  42. ^ a b "Obituary". Otago Witness (2398). 15 February 1900. p. 9. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  43. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  44. ^ "Origins of Some Kihikihi Street Names". Te Awamutu Online. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  45. ^ "Cemeteries search". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012.


  • McLintock, Alexander H. (1949). The history of Otago: the origins and growth of a Wakefield Class settlement. Whitcombe and Tombs.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • 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
John Hyde Harris
Superintendent of Otago Province
Succeeded by
James Macandrew
Preceded by
William Rolleston
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
William Montgomery
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Edward Conolly
Preceded by
Walter Johnston
Succeeded by
Richard Oliver
New title Electric Telegraph Commissioner
New Zealand Parliament
In abeyance
Title last held by
James Macandrew
Member of Parliament for City of Dunedin
Served alongside: Edward McGlashan, John Richardson, James Paterson
Served alongside: Richard Oliver, William Downie Stewart
In abeyance
Title next held by
William Hunter Reynolds
James Paterson
Preceded by
James Macandrew
In abeyance
Title next held by
William Hutchison
David Pinkerton
Henry Fish
New constituency Member of Parliament for Port Chalmers
Succeeded by
David Forsyth Main
New constituency Member of Parliament for Dunedin West
Succeeded by
William Downie Stewart