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IN MEMORIAM.

♦ W. J. W. HAMILTON. (From the Lvtt.._a Timu.) It was our painful duty yesterday to record the death of one of the oldest, most widely known, and, as the Primate very truly said when asking for him the prayers of the Cathedral congregation on Wednesday evening, most generally respected of the Canterbury residents. Mr Hamilton was born at Little Chart Beotory, in Eent, where his father was clergyman, in April, 1825, and reoeived his eduoation partly in Paris, partly at the " Athenee " in Brussels, 'and partly at Harrow. At the age of eighteen he left England with £50 in his pooket — the only money he ever reoeived from home— -for New Zealand, in the same ship with Oaptain Fitzroy, who was on his way, via Sydney, to assume the Governorship of the Oolony. Those were stirring times. Oaptain Wakefield and his party had just been murdered at the Wairau, and exoitement ran high in -Wellington, Auokland, and Nelson, as well as throughout the Native tribes. When the travellers arrived in Sydney the newspapers were disoussing the { situation. At Sydney, Oaptain Fitzroy '■ Seoretary either died or became too ill for work. The position was offered to young Hamilton, who aooepted and held it till Governor Fitzroy was superseded by Sir George Grey, whom he served also in the oapaoity of Seoretary for a ehort time. Under Fitzroy Mr Hamilton saw muoh of old New Zealand. He was present at many a historio interview with the famous Maori leaders of that early time, Tamati Walker, Te Whero Whero, Te Puni, Te Bauparaha and others. He went with his chief through the troubles that oame upon him through the Wairau massacre, in consequence of his refusal to aooede to the excited demands of the colonists. He saw the anxieties of the war time when Heke was out, and Kororareka was taken; and he was familiar enough with the dismal history of doubt and debt whioh were the leadiDg features of the Fitzroy governorship. His ohief, not a man of the most pleasant temper, was exacting and ner* vous. The Seoretary was the hardest worked offioial in the Oolony. He had ts bear the brunt of the despatch writing — anyone who has aeen those deapatohes oan guess what a task it was— and of the aooounts so tangled and unsatisfactory ; he had to make things agreeable for the Governor's guests, he had to be on duty early and late, he had to submit to the freaks of martinetship aggravated by failure of health and failure of polioy. It was altogether a trying time for the Secretary, but of thia no word haa ever eacaped his lips. What we have here set down as among the earliest of Mr Hamilton's experiences, have been gleaned from the accounts of his contemporaries. The staunohest possible loyalty to his ohiefs and his friends was ever too muoh the leading feature of his oharacter to permit him to speak of such things. Not long after Sir George Grey had started on that first Governorship, whioh turned out eventually so well for New Zealand, Mr Hamilton resigned ahd went Home for a year, with the idea that the Oolony was a failure, his knowledge having up to that time been confined to Auokland, Taranaki and Wellington, the last to a small txtent, While at Home he was appointed to H.M. survey ship Aoheron, and returned in her to the Colony. Her oaptain was J. L. Stokes now Admiral, her oommander, Biohards—now Sir George Biohards, Direoting Manager of the Cable Maintenance Company—and Oaptain J. Evans, the present Hydrogrjpher, who, like Sir G. Biohards, is a well-known member of the Boyal Sooiety, was also an offioer on board. In the Aoheron Mr Hamilton was oonoerned in the exploring of the greater part of this Island. The Admiralty oharts, it may not' be generally known, still show that they are drawn from the Acheron's voyage. They were days of rough adventure for Mr Hamilton and his leaders and comrades. He was one of the party that sailed down most of the ooast in a whale-boat ; he made a famouß journey on foot with a midshipman of the Aoheron, and a Maori guide, from the Bluff to Dunedin, or rather where Dunedin now is, for it was before the days of towns, houses, roads or bridges. Three days the little party was struggling half drowned in the swamps about the site of the future Invercargill ; they carried their blankets and baggage on their shoulders, and they orossed the rivers, some of them large and dangerous, like the Mataura and the Olutha, on the "moki," whioh their guide taught them to construct. In Mr Hamilton's letters to the Governor, contained in the Blue Book on Middle Island affairs, he tells the tale of some of this expeditions, and speaks besides of the open grass oountry he had discovered up by the Hurunui, of Mount Grey and its pioturesque surroundings, and of many plaoes that have beoome hivea of industry sinoe he wrote those lines. His exploring and surveying work done, Mr Hamilton was assigned an important share in another phase of colonisation, having been appointed Besident Magistrate at Wanganui. Into this seoond stage of his oareer he carried with him the courage, determination and high sense of duty he had abundantly shown in the more physically arduous but not more difficult first. His work took him up the river amongst the Maoris, many of whom remember him very distinotly. Their kind behaviour to any relative or friend of the Magistrate of that far-off time who may find himself amongst them, Of whioh we have recently heard well authenticated instances, shows the measure of the success to whioh he attained. It was a great suooess. Before his time no one had ventured to go further thau persuasion. Justioe and aotion were his watchwords. Integrity of word and deed, firmness and kindness were his methods. The result was that the Natives trusted him, and he always spoke well of them. When he left it, Mr Hamilton's large distriot was the most orderly of the whole Oolony. We had nearly forgotten to say that he filled this important position on the imposing salary of £100 a year. We ca__ot go higher in his praiae tban by mentioning the mere faot that he never 'acquired a aingle aore of land from theae Wanganui Natives. Major Eemp, it will be remembered by aome of the old Wanganui residents, was one of his policemen. In 1865 Sir George Grey sent Mr Hamilton down to organise the Customs department at Lyttelton, einoe whioh time his oonneotion with Canterbury remained unbroken to the day of his death. Before that he had been connected with the distriot pretty closely, for he was one of those who, on behalf of the Government, oonoluded the purohase of several blooks of land from the Native owners of the Canterbury blook. Sinoe he began his offioial life amongst us as Collector of Customs, he filled many offices, and played many parts. As a Besident Magistrate he left a good record ; as an offioial of the Land Board (Beoeiver of Provincial Land Bevenue) his sense of justice and. unfiinoning spirit of duty made him an enemy of the praotioa known as grid-ironing, and of other prao-'

tioes that grew out of tbe administration of the Provincial land laws ; in oonneotion with these he had several cases brought to trial. He was once a member of the Provincial Oounoil, and for a brief period he was the local manager, in Lyttelton, of the Onion Bank. His oonneotion with musio in Canterbury is of very old date. Those who were of old Ohristehuroh, remember tho energy aad thoroughness he brought to aid in the organisation of musical matters, and they know that tbe pleasant oonoerts of that time have never been surpassed in quality. In 1874 Mr Hamilton retired from the publio servioe on a well-earned pension. At the time of his death he had .been for many years a member of the governing body of Christ's College, and for some time a Governor of Canterbury College. He also represented Akaroa in the Diocesan Synod ; and for the last quarter of a oentury he was one of the proprietors of this journal. To those who knew bim well the most distinguishing traits in his oharaoter were a conscientiousness and thoroughness that were almost incredible. He also was remark* able for a generosity and depth of affeotion for old friends, and anyone who had claims upon him, that would never have been sußpeoted by those who only knew him slightly. His standard of prinoiple was so high that his aotions' and motives often took a turn that put worldly men out of their calculations. Another feature of his oharaoter was his strong will, and his clear steadiness of mind. He was always a purposeful man — always had a scheme in hand, or a plan to work out, and that generally for the good of others. Loyalty of mind, as we have had occasion to remark earlier, and oourteiy of manner were likewise his in a high degree. It was his deep religious feeling that was the mainspring of his every movement, so that he was before all things a Christian gentleman. So he lived, and co he died. Many a one in this town, when they oan greet it no more on their daily walks, will miss that fresh faoe out of whioh the large olear grey eyes met yours bo firmly, honestly, and straightforwardly as he hurried past. That faoe will also be missed from the festival gatherings, successors of those— and tbey have been many — at whioh his pleasant voioe was wont to be heard in tones of encouragement and approval of those who worked in his servioe, and of kindly acknowledgment of the oheers that always greeted the mention of his name. A smaller number, those who enjoyed his true staunch friendship, and knew the inner, life of the man, will, perhaps for the first time now that he is gone, suddenly and truly realise what a noble oharaoter he was. New foroe and new truth will be discovered to them in those true lines of the great expounder of human feeling — That what we have we prize not to the worth Whiles we en jay it, bnt being laok'd and lost, Why, then, we rack the value : then we flt-d The virtue that possession would not show ns Whiles it waa ours.

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Bibliographic details

IN MEMORIAM., Star, Issue 4869, 7 December 1883

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IN MEMORIAM. Star, Issue 4869, 7 December 1883

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