GERARD GEORGE FITZGERALD. It is with the deepest regret that we lecord to-day the death of an old colonist, one who in earlier days honoiab y occupied responsible positions in. the public seivice, and later an enviable position in the ranks of the able editors of the colony. We refer to Gerard George FitzGerald, who passed away yesterday morning, as the result of- cardiac weakness and an internal illness which seized him six weeks ago. For the. last: nineteen yeais' Mr FitzGerald had been editor of this journal, and though his circle of personal acquaintance was not extensive,' in:that capacity he gained and maintained the respect and esteem of the thinking portion of the population of South Canterbury, as, he. had. done when, -elsewhere;he had filled similar positions. physically and mentally, Irish by descent and" English by training, he was a good representative of " a fine old English gentleman." A member of a notable family, of whom a biother; the late James Edward FitzGerald, became better known in. this colony, he had a deep sense of the principle " noblesse oblige," and stiove to give effect at all times to the demands 6i that noble" sentiment. That was his aim, and if anj should think that in the pursuit of hi<duty as "an'educator of pub'ic opinion, he ever fell short of it, let it be lemembeied that human nature is not infallible. , Many men have had more varied-careeis, but hit. had been vaiied enough to give him a wids outlook upon human natuie and public affairs, which was of the greatest use tc him in his later profession of journalism He was born in' England, and educated a 1 the Grammar School at Bath, conducte. on the old-fashioned classical anc" where habits of industry and thoroughness were cultivated perhaps more successfully than the dead languages. Soon after lenv ing school -he followed his oldei biotkt-r, James Edward, to New Zealand, arriving in Port Cooper in February, 1851, in thi Castle Eden, the fifth direct ship horn London to the infant Canterbmy settle ment. He did not remain long in Canterbuiy. but long enough to form a numbei of friendships which opportunity was giver, to renew, yeais afterwards, on-the West Coast. Attracted by the glowing leport* "from the newly discovered goldfklds in Victoria, he- crossed over to Australia, and was engaged.for same time, and successfully, in buying, and driving cattle to. the goldfields centres, varying 'this occupation by engaging in digging himself, and acting as gold buyer for banks in Melbourne. He returned to New Zealand in the early sixties, and with the assistance of hib brother, who at that time had started the I Christchurch "Press,'; he established a ' telegraphic news agency for the colony, and then for a short time was part ownei and editor of tire "Invercargill Times" ; (now the " Southland Times "). Business , was stagnant in the south at that time, and he gave up the paper to try his for i tune on thel Otago goldfieMs. The _ re- ] suits on the' whole were not encouraging, j but one indirect Tesult affected his future | career to a marked extent. He there re- i newed an acquaintance previously made in ' Victoria, with Mr G. S. Sale (now Pro- ' fessor Sale, of the Otago Univeisity), whe was then acting as Goldfields Commissioner of Otago. The official formed a high opinion of the young man's capacity, and on being appointed Commissioner of Westland after the discoveiy of gold there, ia recommended Mr FitzGerald for the second post in the newly formed -administrative distiict, and urged him to accept it. Thus he became from 1867 Magistrate and Sheriff, Warden and Crown Lands Commissioner of Westland, which though remaining a portion of the province o~ Canterbury was semi-detached by the difficulty' of intercommunication. , His headquarters were at Hokitika, and his duties requirec him to make long journeys, -extending tc Greymouth on the north, and to Okarito on 'the scuth, over the rough tracks that the pioneers had made" in haste through the dense bush that cdveied the uneven countiy. The -kite Inspector Bro--1 ham had charge of the po'ice force o I Westland, and-Magistiate and police had , plenty to do in dealing with the class oo f '• parasites which infest new and prosperous goldfields. His-various and aidueus duties weie performed witil chxumsp-sctioL and success. He was possessed of the judicial mind in an eminent degree, and as a'Magistrate was most painstaking; very few of his decisions were reveised on appeal, and as an evenhanded dispenser, of justice he was -highly .esteemed by- all classes. This was probably the happiest period of his life, as in his later years 'he most frequently recalled it, and from the stores of an unusually letentive memory especially delighted in selecting racy stories and peculiar experiences illustrative of life on the West Coast, and his ability as a -narrator made him a most entertaining companion. He resigned his public offices about 1880 to betake himself to journalism again, and after a brief sr-journ a' Blenheim, as "owner of a small journal there, he became editor of the- "•Wanganur Chronicle." He made his home for someyears in Wanganui, and though a nonresident he was elected ,as member for Hokitika in 1881, and sat for three sessions. Parliament was then dissolved, and he was defeated by Mr John Bevan by a verv.narrow majority in 1884. General elections in the gold-digging communities I of those days were much more lively af- ' fairs than we are accustomed to see in I Timaru i candidates must travel far and I entertain the electors in more ways than 1 one; and some of Mr FitzGerold's stories--i of his two election campaigns were highly diveiting. In 1884 he removed to Wellington on accepting the editorship of the "New Zealand Times," and after occupying that post for about a -year he resigned it to take "the editorship of the "Timaru Herald," in succession to Mr Triggs, now editor of the Christchurch "Press." It is quite unnecessary for us to.mhke any remark on the manner in which" the "Timaru Herald" lias been conducted under Mr FitzGerald's watchful care, or on the-consist--ency which has marked his editorial--arti-cles. He was a man of pronounced opinions on political questions, and these he fearlessly and strongly, and lucidly expressed. Occasionally, but rarely, he permitted his strong sense, of humour to enliven a dull subject or to delicately flagellate an opponent. In private life he was extremely reserved, finding books—he was an omnivorous reader—the pleasure and. stimulus which others findjn the society of their fellows. He leaves no family. He married when employed in Westland, a Miss Kennedy, a sister of a well-known resident of Wanganui; she was unfortunately drowned by the wreck of the Taiaroa off Kaikora, in April, 1886, when on her way down to join her husband -at Timaru. The deceased has relatives jn Wellington, a nephew "and nieces, son and daughters of the Mate Mr James Edward FitzGerald. He was well cared for in his fatal illness, and until a few days ago hopes were entertained of his recovery; but towards the end of last week failure of the heart became more and more pronoimced. On Mondav he was removed to the Hospital by his desire, but he survived only a few hours, passing away early yesterday morning, at the age of 71. The funeral will take place from the Hospital to-mor-I row afternoon.
A TRIBUTE FROM WANGANUI. Per Press Association. WANGANUI, June 7. Refeiring to the death of Mr FitzGerald the .'"Chronicle" says-"Many of the older residents of Wanganm will lemember as a, striking personality Mr G. t*. *■»"- GcuiW. the veteran journalist, polilican, ~,r.d Magistrate, whose death at limaiu is announced in' our telegraphic columns, llcceised who was a brother of the late Air James Edward FitzGerald, ' the silvertongued,orator,' and one time ComptiolierGencral' occupied.the editorial chair of the 'Timaru Herald' for the past 18 years. He was for several yeais, prior to taking up the southern appointment, editor of the 'Wanganui Chronicle, a position which he filled wifh credit ana distinction. Before coining to Wanganui Mr FitzGerald occupied the pos:Lion ,o£ Warden and Magistrate at Kofcitika, During his journalistic caieer in Wanganui lis conducted two political campaigns on the West Coast of the other island, a by no means easy task in those days, and pioving victorious in the first contest took his seat in the Hou>c of Representatives as member for Hokitika. Mr FitzGerald left Wanganui to take up the editorship of the 'New Zealand Times' and subsequently accepted a similar position oir the ' Timaru Herald * which he held up to the time of his death. He was an able, indeed a brilliant writer; a man of wide knowledge, and of judicial cast of mind, ne passed awny at the lipe age of 71 veais, a veteiaii woiker, but up to the last his wiitings revealed the forceful. viriJa and locrical character of Us mind of Ihe man behind the pen. ,By his death New Zealand journalism loses one of its ablest representatives."
SYNOPSIS OF NEW ADVERTISEMENTS. ' - - . Dalgety and Co.—Have lease in perpetuity for sale. -Guinness and LeCren,"Limited —Sale of farms at Waimate on 25th iust.; properties for private sale. Theatre Eoyal—Cooper and Macdermott's biograph on 15th and 16th inst. Registrar of Canterbury College—Tenders for leasing sections in Timaru. Mr F. R..,Platman-—Notice to electors of Geraldine. Lost —Gold pin; reward on return to this office l ' •* . - - J. W. Miles —Invites tenders for feeding off turnips. _■ . ,j F. P. Claridge, Stone Stables—Has found draught mare. , , • , Pleasant Point —Bepefit concert-off the 14th inst. St. Andrev.s Presbyterian Church—Sale of work' on 16th and l 17th inst. Meason and,,Marchan*—Call tenders for bridge for Geraldine County Council." Levels County Council—Culvert ,near Mauser's re-opened to traffic. t Funeral notice—By J. Radcliffe. Wanted.?— Seven notices.
Permanent link to this item
OBITUARY., Timaru Herald, Volume LXXX, Issue 12393, 8 June 1904
OBITUARY. Timaru Herald, Volume LXXX, Issue 12393, 8 June 1904
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.