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DEATH OF THE HON. W. H. REYNOLDS., Otago Witness, Volume 06, Issue 2354, 6 April 1899
DEATH OF THE HON. W. H. REYNOLDS.
It is our melancholy duty this week to announce the death of one of the moet prominent of the pioneer settlers of Otago, whose names are written large in the history of the province and whose deeda live after them. There were few who rendered greater service in the earlier days of ' the settlemenc than did the Hon. W. H. Reynolds, whose death occurred on Saturday afternoon. His services were, too, of a moro than provincial character, for he had a not inconsiderable share in making the political history of the colony. For some months his health had been manifestly failing, and towards the end of last week it was recognised that his condition was critical. On Saturday afternoon, at 5.25 o'clock, a long and useful career came to a cloce and Mr Reynolds passed peacefully away in the preeenco of his wife and all the members of liis family, who will have the sympathy oT a very wide circle of friends in their bereavement. The family consists of four sons and five daughter?. The eldest daughter is the wife of Mr G. L. Denniston, of this city, and the sons are ]\'r Leslie TC. Reynolds (civil engineer), Mr E. C. Reynolds (partner in the firm of Park, Reynolds, and Co.). Mr W. E. Reynolds (grain merchant), and Mr A. G. Reynolds.
William Hunter Reynolds was the third eon of Thomas Reynolds, who had been a lieutenant in the navy, , but had afterwards became the proprietor of cork plantations in Spain. He was born on the Ist May, 1822, at Chatham, Kent, but spent his early boyhood at Oporto in Portugal. His family were compelled to leave that place hurriedly in 1828 on the outbreak of the revolution, and proceeded to .Edinburgh, where he received the major part of his education — at the Nicholson street Academy and the Fountain-bridge School. When he wa3 12 yearn old he returned with his family to Lisbon, and there he attended an English school, but this became cloned on account of the death' of the master, and young Reynolds at once joined his father in business, and during tlie next seven years learnt the whole art of stripping and preparing the cork wood for the English market. During these years he had several encounters with brigands. In one of these he received a blow the marks of wliich he carried for the rest of hie days. In 1842 he returned to London, and there managed the business of the firm, hi.s father having, oh account of the state of his health, to remain abroad. At tho time of his arrival in London he could hcarcely speak a word of English, and bis letters were first written in Spanish and translatpd into English, but his evenings were devoted to Rtudy with the view of overcoming this difficulty, and lip made very rapid progress. For nine years he managed tho firm's hiibincss in London, and a« much as £180.000 a year passed through his hands. During the last three years, moreover, he carried on business on his own account as well. In London lie became connected with the Otago Association, and, the determination ha\ing been arrived at in the family circle to adopt a colonial life, Mr Reynolds, with his parents and other relatives (including his sister, Mr.- James Macandrew, and her husband, and Mrs J. T. Wright)/ embarked in tho schooner Titan, the first iron veFpel that came to the colonies, and it landed thorn at Port Chalmers on the 17th January, 1851. The telertion of land for store and residences, the discharging nf the vessel, and the securing of freight for her wore the first considerations. Mr Reynolds obtained for a dwelling a house in High street, the dimensions of wliich were 24ft by 12ft, consisting of a bedroom, ftiUin<j room, kitchen, and passage, and the site <-elected for tho. store was at the rorner of Stafford and Manse stropts. This site was a town section, nnd the arrangement? for tlip lease wero made with Captain Carffill, after which the store (erected by Mr Jumps Macandrew) was speedily put up, proving more attractive in appearance than any other in embryo Dunedin. The cargo having bepn landed and stored. Mr Reynolds again took ship on tlm Titan and started off on a voyage which kept him for nearly 12 mouths absent from Otago. The Titan, on her voyage out, had part cargo
for Hobarfcj and Mr Reynolds's intention was, after delivering that, to take the schooner to Twofold Bay for sheep fur New Zealand. He was advised by his agents, however, to take a trip to California with a cargo of produce, and upon this advice he acted. Calling at Port Chalmers on his way to inform his relatives, he brought with him a consignment of tea, soap, flour, sugar, and candles for Mr Macandrew's store, filling with barley, potatoes, and lime the "space these goods had occupied. -After an extraordinarily quick passage the Titan arrived at San IfrancisQO immediately after the June fire in 1851. There being no storage in the place for goods, which had to be landed from ships in enormous quantities, great .sacrifices had to be made by the owners and j Mr Reynolds was enabled to purchase goods of all descriptions at exceptionally low prices, in some instances at prices equal to 90 per cent, below the cost at the port of shipment. He had intended to proceed "from San Francisco to Singapore, in order to bring down to Sydney or New Zealand a cargo of Eastern produce, but, the Titan having been fillld with the miscellaneous stock he had secured at San Francisco, he abandoned his intention of visiting Singapore, and came direct to Sydney, where he disposed of the bulk of the cargo, bringing the remainder on , to Otago, along with a consignment of cattle and sheep, which he purchased on his o^vn account at Sydney. After the payment of all expenses, including the' charter of "the ship, this venture returned him a profit of £5000 or £9000, but he then parted with the Titan," and joined his brother-in-law, Mr James Macandrew, in the firm of James Macandrew and Co. Mr Reynolds was one of the first justices of the peace in the colony, receiving, upon his arrival, his appointment to the commission from the Lieutenant-governor, who had received instructions from the Colonial Office in England to make the appointment, this step being due to the influence of Sir Thomas Baring. Upon his first arrival in the colony, also. Mr Reynolds received a despatch appointing him Lloyd's agent in New Zealand, and in this capacity he acted until about 11 yeard ago, when he resigned in favour of Mr G-. L. Denniston. In 1853, the six original provinces having been established in the colony in terms of the Constitution Act, Mr Reynolds was one of the six successful candidates for the representation of the country districts, and he wa« the only man in the community who held the record of being uninterruptedly a member of the Provincial Council from its institution in September, 1853, until its abolition on November 1, 1876. In the meantime he had undertaken for a time the editorship of the Otago Witness during the absence of Mr W. H. Cufcten in the north on hjs Parliamentary duties. Mr Reynolds found the duties neither very easy nor very remunerative. There were at the time only 130 subscribers, one copy of the paper — the price of which was sixpence — in several instances going round six individuals, each of whom paid his .penny a- week. Within a week of Mr Reynolds's undertaking the management of the paper, there was a general strike in the office owinj? to wages being in arrears. Mr Daniel Campbell, the printer, had come to Otago for Jive years under a guarantee given by Mr Reynolds and Messrs Jntnes and Daniel Macandrew; but Mr D. Macaiidrew had left the colony, and Mr James Macandrew was absent at Auckland, attending the session of the House of Representatives, and Mr Reynolds was consequently himself under liability to pay Mr Campbell. He undertook, however, to pay ur> the arrears to the whole staff, and, ascertaining on investigation that the receipts from the paper would not pay expenses, he canvassed the town and received (for those days) a large number of new advertisements, besides which, as customers came into his store, he canvassed them for subscriptions, with the result that by the time of Mr Cutten's return the circulation had increased to nearly 300, and the paper had been made a paying concern. In 1856 the firm with which Mr Reynolds was connected contracted with the Provincial Government to bring out some 2000 immigrants at a reduced rate of passage money, and he was obliged to ro to London to complete the arrangements. He was accompanied on the voyage by his wife, to whom he was married on the 7th.Octobet, 1856. Prior to this, however, he had on two occasions visited Melbourne at the request of Captain Cargill, the then superintendent, as an immigration agent, and brought down about 700 passengers, besides giving information to a gieat many others who came to New Zealand afterwards. For his services on these missions he accepted no remuneration, the only expense to the province being the cost of advertising. In 1863, Mr Rynolds was returned to a seat in the House of Representatives, being elected for Dunedin and suburbs south after a contest in which Sir Jiilius (then Mr) Vogel andMr.- Cutten were his opponents. In 1866, -a redistribution of seats having taken place, Mr Reynolds sought the suffrages of the city ejectors, and was returned with Mr James Paterson an his colleague, the other candidates being left far behind them. The session tha/; followod was rather an exciting one. Questionsconnected with the relation between the Gen©"ral and Provincial Governments engrosped a large amount of attention, and as Mr Paterson, as a member of the Stafford Ministry, supported the General, and Mr Reynolds the Provincial Government, the vote for Dunedin was divided. On their return both members met their constituents in the Princei-s Theatre, but while Mr Paterson would not be listened to, Mr Reynold.? received an ovation. Both were asked to resign. Mr Paterson refused, but Mr Reynolds complied, and was re-elected in 1867, the opposition to him (which came from Mr J. G. S. Grant) being hardly serious. In that, year, also, on the Provincial Council asFcmbling, Mr Reynolds was chosen as its Speaker, and this office he held during its continuance. His conduct in this capacity met with general approval. Firm without being overbearing, his rulings were usually submitted to without complaint, based as r they were oil common sense, and being alwayp : consistent with the standing orders. In 1871 he was reelected tc the General Assembly as representative for Dunedin in company, this time, with Mr John Bathgate, who obtained 694 votes, and Mr Reynolds 692, while their principal opponent was Mr Macassey, who received 54-5 votes. In the following year Mr Reynolds accepted the portfolio of Commissioner of Customs and Minister of Marine in "the Waterhouse Government, and he held the same portfolios, with others, under three other successive leaders — Sir W. Fox, Sir J. A T ogel, and Dr Pollen. During the administrations of the two last-mentioned Premieis the abolition of the provincial system was determined on. Mr Reynolds was alwayß looked on aa n thorough provincialist. He strongly resented the attempt of Mr (afterwards Sir Edwßril) .Stafford to upset the Provincial Councils under his Now Provinces Act, by which the dismemberment of Southland woss brought about, and he was greatly pleased when reunion vtrs proolHimed during lub Speakernhip. ft \va», therefore, a. matter of some little surprise when a fgw years later ho was, aa s>. Minister of tho
Orowu, a principal assistant in their abolition.Mr Reynolds was still, as a member of tha General Government, thoroughly opposed to abolition. So also were Mr C. C. Bowen and Mr (now Sir) Maurice O'Rorke. He satisfied himself, however, on counting heads, that there was no hope of saving provincialism. Mr? O'Rorke would personally have accepted the abolition of the provinces, provided that the land fund and reserves of Canterbury became colonial property, but Mr Bowen and Mr Reynolds, seeing that the provinces were doomed, decided, after consultation, to fall in with the other members of the Cabinet on condition that the reserves and land revenue were maintained for the provincial districts. Seeing that nothing could save the House, as Mr Reynolds used quaintly to put it, they determined to save the furniture. The abolition of the provinces was determined upon as part of the Government policy months before the opening of the session in which the proposals cams before the House from the Ministerial benches, and it was, therefore, not a little astonishing when Mr O'Rorke, rising in his place, said it took him by surprise lo hear such an idoa emannting from the Government benches on which he was sitting, and at once wrote out bis resignation, and sent it to the Governor. If Mr Reynolds had desired to court popularity in Otago the certain way to do it would have been to act as Mr O'Rorke acted, for Otago was staunch in its adherence to provincialism. _As it was, his retention of hia portfolio cost him his seat for Dunedin when Parliament was dissolved in 1875, and an appeal was made to the country on the question of abolition. Dunedin had its representation increased to three members, and the three provincialistß were a long way at the head of the jpoll — Mr Macandrew 891, Mr (afterguards Sir Robert) Stout 865, and Mr.Larnach 843, whilst the abolitionists were fag behind, Mr Macassey polling 409, Mr Reynolds 406, and Mr Fish 238. So far as Dunedin was concerned, there was no uncertainty in this sound. Mr Reynolds was consoled a few days afterwards by being chosen . for Port Chalmers against Mr James Green, whom he defeated by 241 votes to 185. On the assembling of the new Parliament Sir Julius Vogel was Premier, and Mr Reynolds wn» continued in his office of Commiosioner o$ Customs and Minister of Marine Before th 9 assembling of the Parliament that precedpoj the abolition of the provinces Mr Reynold! requested to be relieved of hie portfolios, bufi his colleagues urged him to retain them until the roturn of Mr Vogel, who had gone to England. Sir Francis Dillon Bell had not stood at the general election, and a new Speaker of the House of Represntatives was consequently required. The Cabinet, under theso circumstances, agreed upon tha proposal of Mr E. Richardson, to nominate Mr Reynolds for the position, but before Parliament met Sir Julius Vogel "wroto to Mr Reynolds on the subject, and the latter replied that he did not desire to become Speakoj; and instead urged that for political reasons Sir Wjlliam Fitzherbert should bo appointed, and this was done. Mr Reynolds subsequently resigned his -portfolio, as ho found that his private affairs required more of his personal attention," and also resigned Iris scab in 'the Lower House, bitt waft called by the Grey Government to the Legislative Council, in which he retained his seat until his death, having been continuously a member of tho Legislature in one or other of its branches from 1863 to 1899. While hi, the Upper House he held office without portfolio in tha Stout- Vogel Government. He was regulai in his attendance at his Parliamentary dutiea up till last year, when failing health manifested itself.
Apart from politics and from the commercial undertakings to which reference has already been made, Mr Reynolds was a colonist of a type that was exceedingly valuablo in a, young colony. The large bonded warehouses at the foot of Jotty street were erected by him, and before they were completed they were let at a rental of £1260 per annum, Mr Reynolds reserving for his own use threo offices in front, in which he carried on, until several years ago, a large and successful mercantile business. He was one of the original trustees of the Dunedin Savings Bank, and continued to be one from September 12, 1864-, when it wan opened under the management of the late Mr Edmund Smith, ufa till the present time. He was also closely identified with a number of trading corporation^ in our midst, notably the Colonial Bank, ou which he was a director at the time of itjt amalgamation with the Bank of New Zealand. He was also until recently a director of tho Westport ' Coal Company, the Perpetual Trustees, Estate, and Agency Company, and the Otago Daily Times and Witness Nevrspapers Company. Ho was also a member of tho University Council up to the time of his death, and he also served for years as a member of the Board of School Commissioners, as a governor of the High Schools, and, as a member of the Church Board of Property. Among the public services for which, the community had to thank him was the part he took in securing the first exhibition buildings for hospital purposes, in securing thi erection- 'of the provincial Government buildings, and in -designing the education system in Otago. His residence at Monteoillo, to which he removed when ho disposed of his dwelling at "Woodheacl" (now the property of Mr Hugh MacNeil) to Mr Shadrnch Jones, is a well-known land mark in Dunedin. The grounds at Montccillo have been so cultivated and adorned with plants, shrubs, and trees as to have become a decided ornament to tho city. Montecillo is eituated on the margin of tho Town Belt, which, along with the other reserves pertaining to the city, Mr Reynold* always protected with jealous care againßfc any innovation or alienation.
DEATH OF THE HON. W. H. REYNOLDS., Otago Witness, Volume 06, Issue 2354, 6 April 1899
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