MR. W. J. NAPIER. J' The death occurred on Saturday at a private hospital of Mr. William Josepn Napier, a prominent member of the legal profession, and one of Auckland's early colonists. Born vin Ireland, Mr. Napier arrived in Auckland when only five years of age, and received his education at St. Peter's Catholic School, in Hobson Street, the Auckland Grammar School and St. John's College. He was one of the many Auckland public men who first felt their feet on the oratorical platform as members of the old St., James' Debating Society, an institution which, though denominational in its origin, had on its roll men of all shades of religious opinion. After qualification for the Bar, Mr. Napier was for many years the legal adviser of Sir George Grey, of whom he was a political disciple. He was also legal adviser to two successive kings of Samoa, Malietoa and Mataafa, and solicitor for years to the Government of Tonga. For a long period he was one of the most prominent practitioners at the Supreme Court Bar in Auckland. Famous trials in which he acted as counsel were those of Harry Penn, one of the murderers of Robert Taylor, at Great Barrier Island, in 1886; the defence of Sheehan, who was arrested in Auckland for the murder of his mother, brother and sister at Castletownriche Island, extradited to Ireland and executed; and the defence of Maxwell, an English solicitor, who was also arrested here, for the St. Louis trunk murder, extradited to the United States and executed. The great Samoan land case, in which he appeared as counsel, lasted for seven years, and was three times before the Privy Council. In local government affairs Mr. Napier took a prominent part for upwards of a quarter of a century. For over 16 years he was a member of the Auckland Harbour Board, and he served two terms as its chairman. He was largely instrumental in having the Freeman's Bay reclamation, now known as Victoria Park, converted first into a recreation reserve. In 189;), when Auckland City was one parliamentary electorate, returning three representatives, Mr. Napier was returned as its senior member, but in the election of-1902 ho was defeated, Messrs. J. H. Witheford. F. E. Baume, and A. Ividd being returned. Since then Mr. Napier ha a taken no part in Parliamentary life, though he has twice been a candidate for the Waitemata seat. Volunteering was, until the adoption of! the territorial system, one of Mr. Napier's chief hobbies, and in 1900 he organised a corps of garrison volunteers, the Auckland Coastguards, of which he was captain. One of the first local presidents or the Navy League, he has also been one of the most active officers of the Victoria League. He was also a Fellow of trie Royal Colonial Institute. Mr. Napier is survived by his widow and two sons. A requiem mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick's Cathedral today at 9.50 a.m., after which the interment will take place at Hillsborough Cemetery.
Permanent link to this item
OBITUARY., New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19188, 30 November 1925
OBITUARY. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19188, 30 November 1925
Using This Item
NZME is the copyright owner for the New Zealand Herald. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of NZME. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Auckland Libraries and NZME.