Thomas Bannatyne Gillies (17 January 1828 – 26 July 1889) was a 19th-century New Zealand lawyer, judge and politician.

Thomas Gillies
4th Attorney-General of New Zealand
In office
6 August 1862 – 23 August 1862
Prime MinisterAlfred Domett
Preceded byHenry Sewell
Succeeded byHenry Sewell
4th Postmaster-General
In office
30 October 1863 – 24 November 1864
Prime MinisterFrederick Whitaker
Preceded byCrosbie Ward
Succeeded byJohn Richardson
7th Superintendent of Auckland Province
In office
2 December 1869 – November 1873
Preceded byJohn Williamson
Succeeded byJohn Williamson
Personal details
Thomas Bannatyne Gillies

(1828-01-17)17 January 1828
Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland
Died26 July 1889(1889-07-26) (aged 61)
Rocklands, Gillies Ave, Epsom, Auckland
Resting placeSt Andrew's Cemetery, Epsom
OccupationLawyer, politician

Early life


He was born at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, Scotland, on 17 January 1828. He was the eldest of nine children of John Gillies, local lawyer and town clerk, and his wife, Isabella Lillie, daughter of a Glasgow businessman and granddaughter of a Huguenot refugee. Determined to train as a mechanical engineer, he was forced by his father to study law and trained in his father's practice for four years. He then went to Manchester, where he worked for Robert Barbour and Sons, with his next brother John taking his place in his father's firm. The two brothers intended to join the California Gold Rush but their father did not allow them to do so, and John emigrated to Australia instead in about 1850. John Gillies senior was so committed with various duties that his health suffered and after long discussions, it was agreed to emigrate to Otago, New Zealand.[1]

On 1 June 1852, Thomas Gillies married Catherine Douglas at Newcastle upon Tyne. The whole family, including their brother Robert Gillies, left for New Zealand on 24 July on the Slains Castle.[1][2][3] They were soon joined in Otago by John Gillies Jr., who came over from Australia.[1]





Gillies joined the practise of his father John Gillies and John Hyde Harris in July 1857.[4] In the 1860s, he ran a law practice in Dunedin with William Richmond, a fellow (ex) MP.[5]


New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1860 2nd Dunedin Country Independent
1861–1865 3rd Bruce Independent
1870 4th Mongonui Independent
1871–1875 5th Auckland West Independent

He was the Member of Parliament for Dunedin Country from 1860 (after a by-election), then Bruce 1861 to 1865; two electorates in the South Island.[6] While he had been a cabinet minister in the Domett Ministry (August 1862) and then the Whitaker–Fox Ministry (October 1863 – November 1864),[7] he was a strong separationist, but did not get majority support in the ministries or from parliament as a whole, and he resigned his parliamentary seat in early 1865 as he could not achieve separation of the South Island. He first talked about having resigned in public on 6 January 1865 but the resignation did not take effect until 3 March of that year.[6][8]

Gillies then represented Mongonui 1870 (elected 30 March 1870; Parliament dissolved 30 December 1870) then Auckland West 1871 to 1875 (resigned); two electorates in the North Island.[6]

He was the seventh Superintendent of Auckland Province from 1869 to 1873.[9]

He was a cabinet minister, and held the positions of Attorney-General (August 1862) in the Domett Ministry, Postmaster-General and Secretary for Crown Lands (1863–1864) in the Whitaker–Fox Ministry, and Colonial Treasurer (1872) in the third Stafford Ministry.[10]



Gillies and Frederick Wollaston Hutton initiated the public meeting of 6 November 1867, to establish the Auckland Philosophical Society, soon renamed Auckland Institute, following a conversation they'd had about the General Assembly's efforts in forming the New Zealand Institute. When Gillies had visited Wellington, James Hector, manager of the institute, had suggested the appropriateness of establishing branches throughout New Zealand, especially in Auckland. In consequence, the newly formed Auckland Institute was incorporated with the New Zealand Institute on 10 June 1868. Gillies served as president of the Auckland Institute in 1869, with the transfer of Auckland Museum to the Auckland Institute in October 1869, as well as in 1873 and 1876.[11][12][13][14][15] He also contributed papers on scientific matters to the Auckland Institute and New Zealand Institute.

He died in his home, Rocklands, in Gillies Avenue, Epsom, following an apoplectic seizure on 26 July 1889.[16][17][18][19][20][21] Gillies's first wife, Catherine, died in 1865; he married secondly, in 1867, Agnes (d. 1884), daughter of John Sinclair, of Glasgow, niece of Andrew Sinclair, second Colonial Secretary of New Zealand, and sister-in-law of David Bruce. He had six children altogether from both marriages.[22][23]


  • Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne (1868). "Notes on Land and Fresh-water Shells Collected in the Northern Part of the Province of Auckland, During the Month of April, 1868". Proceedings of the Auckland Institute: 60–61.
  • Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne (1871). "Art. IX.—On the Occurrence of Footprints of the Moa at Poverty Bay". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. 4: 127–128.
  • Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne (1879). "Art. LIII.—Notes on the Growth of Certain Trees on Scoria Soil Near Mount Eden, Auckland". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. 12: 357.
  • Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne (1882). "Art. XXXIII.—Further Notes on Sorghum Experiments". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. 15: 261–267.
  • Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne (1882). "Art. XXXIV.—On the Growth of the Cork Oak in Auckland". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. 15: 267.


  1. ^ a b c Rennie, Hugh. "Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  2. ^ "In Memoriam. Robert Gillies". The Evening Post. Vol. 32, no. 24. 15 June 1886. p. 3. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  3. ^ "The Late Robert Gillies". Bruce Herald. Vol. 17, no. 1759. 18 June 1886. p. 3. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Dissolution of Partnership; Co-Partnership". Otago Witness. No. 295. 25 July 1857. p. 4. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  5. ^ McLintock, A. H., ed. (22 April 2009) [originally published in 1966]. "Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 199.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 61f.
  8. ^ "Separation". Otago Witness. No. 685. 14 January 1865. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  9. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 179.
  10. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 62, 64.
  11. ^ "New Zealand Society". The Daily Southern Cross. Vol. 23, no. 3217. 7 November 1867. p. 3 – via Papers Past.
  12. ^ "Philosophical Society". Daily Southern Cross. Vol. 24, no. 3295. 7 February 1868. p. 3.
  13. ^ The Annual Meeting of the Members held at the Museum Feb 15th–1869: First Annual Report (PDF), Auckland Institute, 1869
  14. ^ "Auckland Institute". The New Zealand Herald. Vol. 6, no. 1798. 19 October 1869. p. 3.
  15. ^ Annual Report: Auckland Institute (PDF), Auckland Institute, 1870
  16. ^ "Death". Marlborough Express. 26 July 1889 – via Papers Past.
  17. ^ "Death". Auckland Star. 27 July 1889 – via Papers Past.
  18. ^ "Obituary". The New Zealand Herald. Vol. 26, no. 9441. 12 August 1889. p. 10 – via Papers Past.
  19. ^ "Obituary". Auckland Star. 27 July 1889 – via Papers Past.
  20. ^ "Obituary". The New Zealand Times. 27 July 1889 – via Papers Past.
  21. ^ "Obituary". Otago Daily Times. 27 July 1889 – via Papers Past.
  22. ^ Debrett's House of Commons and the Judicial Bench, ed. R. H. Mair, Debrett's, 1885, p. 419
  23. ^ "Gillies, Thomas Bannatyne".


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
Political offices
Preceded by Attorney-General
Succeeded by
Henry Sewell
Preceded by Postmaster-General
Succeeded by
Preceded by Superintendent of Auckland Province
Succeeded by
John Williamson
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Dunedin Country
Served alongside: John Parkin Taylor
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bruce
Served alongside: Charles Kettle, Edward Cargill
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Mongonui
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Auckland West
Served alongside: John Williamson
Succeeded by