William Lee Rees

William Lee Rees (16 December 1836 – 18 May 1912) was an English-born New Zealand cricketer, politician and lawyer.

William Rees
William Lee Rees.jpg
William Rees, circa 1878
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Lee Rees
Born(1836-12-16)16 December 1836
Bristol, England
Died18 May 1912(1912-05-18) (aged 75)
Gisborne, New Zealand
RelationsWilliam Gilbert Rees (cousin)
Grace family
Domestic team information
Career statistics
Competition F/C
Matches 4
Runs scored 65
Batting average 9.28
100s/50s 0/0
Top score 37
Balls bowled 46
Wickets 1
Bowling average 28.00
5 wickets in innings 0
10 wickets in match 0
Best bowling 1/16
Catches/stumpings 2/0
Source: CricketArchive, 31 July 2011

Early yearsEdit

Rees was born in Bristol in 1836, the son of James Rees, a surgeon, and Elizabeth Pocock.[1] Rees' father died when he was young, and he was brought up by his mother and uncle. Rees was a member of the famous cricketing Grace family, with his mother's sister, Martha Pocock, the mother of WG Grace.[2][3]

He emigrated to Melbourne, with his mother, in 1851, at the start of the Victorian gold rush.[1] He began studying law at the University of Melbourne, but was also interested in religion, training as a Congregationalist minister.[1] He was ordained in 1861, and served as minister to the parish of Beechworth from 1861–65, which included a lecture on "scepticism, credulity & faith" delivered at the Beechworth Town Hall in June 1863.[4] He married Hannah Elizabeth "Annie" Staite in Melbourne on 8 July 1863, whom he had seven children with, including Annie Lee "Lily" Rees (1864–1949), a writer, teacher and lawyer;[5] and Rosemary Frances Rees (1875–1963), an author, actress, theatre producer and playwright, who founded one of the first theatre companies in New Zealand.[6]

Cricket careerEdit

Rees played four first-class matches during the early part of cricket in Australia and New Zealand. He made his first-class debut for Victoria against New South Wales in January 1857 at The Domain, Sydney, scoring two runs batting at number three. He was run out for a duck in the second innings. His cousin, William Gilbert Rees, playing in the same match, made 28 in the first innings before being dismissed leg before wicket by Tom Wills.[7] Inter-colonial matches were sporadic at the time due to travelling distances, and Rees did not play again until October 1857, when he appeared for Gentlemen of Victoria against Players of Victoria, although the match was not awarded first-class status. Rees was dismissed for a duck in each innings.[8] Rees' next match was against New South Wales in January 1858, where he made one and three in either innings. The New South Wales team was captained by George Gilbert, a cousin, who took 11 wickets for the match, including Rees in the first innings.[9]


New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1875–1879 6th Auckland City East Independent
1890–1893 11th Auckland Liberal

Rees moved from Otago to Hokitika, where he stayed for three years before moving to Auckland.[1] He represented the Kanieri riding on the Westland County from December 1868 to November 1869.[10]

He was elected to the Auckland City East electorate in 1875 election, defeating James Clark 300 votes to 266.[11][12] At the next general election in 1879 election, he was defeated for Auckland North.[11] He supported Sir George Grey,[13] and with Wi Pere set up a Trust for dealing with Maori land.

In the 1884 by-election and the subsequent 1884 election, he contested the East Coast electorate and was defeated both times by Samuel Locke.[14] He was defeated in the 1889 by-election for East Coast, by Alexander Creighton Arthur.

He was elected to the multi-member City of Auckland electorate in 1890 election and resigned shortly before the end of the term of the 11th Parliament in July 1893.[11] He supported the Liberal Government and was Chairman of Committees from 1891 to 1893.[15]

Retirement and deathEdit

In 1893, Rees accused Alfred Cadman, the Member for Thames, of using his position as Minister for Native Affairs for personal gain. Cadman inconclusively sued Rees for libel, and challenged him to a by-election contest for Rees' seat, City of Auckland, which Rees lost.[16][17] Rees then retired from parliamentary politics, returning to Gisborne, where most of his family lived and where he had business interests. He lived at Te Hapara for most of the rest of his life, participating in several philanthropic gestures, including the installation of the first cricket pitch and tennis courts in Gisborne. He died at Gisborne on 18 May 1912[1] and was buried at Makaraka Cemetery.[18]

Books by William ReesEdit

  • The Coming Crisis: A sketch of the financial and political condition of New Zealand with the causes and probable results of that condition (1874).
  • Sir Gilbert Leigh, or, Pages from the History of an Eventful Life, with an appendix, The Great Pro-consul (1878) (a novel).
  • Co-operation of Land, Labour and Capital (1885).
  • From Poverty to Plenty, or, the Labour Question Solved (1888).
  • The Life and Times of Sir George Grey, K.C.B. (1892) (written with Lily Rees).


  1. ^ a b c d e Brooking, Tom. "Rees, William Lee". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  2. ^ Mr. William Lee ReesThe Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  3. ^ William Rees – CricketArchive. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  4. ^ Lecture on scepticism, credulity & faith delivered by the Rev. W.L. Rees, at the Town Hall, Beechworth, on Tuesday, 23 June 1863 – Trove: National Library of Australia. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  5. ^ Rees, Annie LeeTe Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Article written by Sheila Robinson. Last updated 1 September 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  6. ^ Rees, Rosemary FrancesTe Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Article written by Nancy Swarbrick. Last updated 1 September 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  7. ^ New South Wales v Victoria, 14–16 January 1857 at The Domain, Sydney – CricketArchive. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  8. ^ Gentlemen of Victoria v Players of Victoria, 16–17 October 1857 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – CricketArchive. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  9. ^ Victoria v New South Wales, 11–13 January 1858 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – CricketArchive. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  10. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 243.
  11. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 229.
  12. ^ "Auckland". Taranaki Herald. XXIV (2373). 1 January 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  13. ^ "The Evening Star". Auckland Star. VI (1832). 31 December 1875. p. 2. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  14. ^ "The General Election, 1884". National Library. 1884. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  15. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 251.
  16. ^ "The Cadman-Rees Contest". Otago Witness (2057). 27 July 1893. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  17. ^ Butterworth, Graham. "Cadman, Alfred Jerome". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Online cemetery record search". Gisborne District Council. Retrieved 31 July 2018.

External linksEdit


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First published in 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
Westby Perceval
Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Arthur Guinness
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Julius Vogel
Member of Parliament for Auckland City East
Succeeded by
William Speight