Wakefield, William Hayward (DNB00)

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WAKEFIELD, WILLIAM HAYWARD (1803–1848), colonist, born in 1803, was the fourth son of Edward Wakefield [q. v.] , and younger brother of Edward Gibbon Wakefield [q. v.] For assisting his brother in the abduction of Ellen Turner in 1826 he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in Lancaster Castle. On his release he entered the Portuguese army, afterwards transferring his services to Spain. He acquired the reputation of an able officer and attained the rank of colonel in the Spanish service, commanding the 1st regiment of lancers in the British auxiliary force of Spain. He was rewarded by being created a knight of the Portuguese order of the Tower and Sword, and of the Spanish order of San Fernando. In 1839 he sailed in the Tory to New Zealand as agent for the New Zealand Land Company. On 24 Sept. they anchored in Port Nicholson, near Wellington, on the southern shore of the northern island. Wakefield was hampered in his operations by the fact that the New Zealand Land Company had been unable to obtain recognition from the English government, who, when driven to action by the expedition, preferred to despatch Captain Hobson as their delegate under the authority of the governor of New South Wales. Hobson reached the Bay of Islands in the north of the northern island on 29 Jan. 1840, and on 6 Feb. concluded the treaty of Waitangi, by which the sovereignty was ceded to England by treaty. While these transactions were going on in the north the settlers at Port Nicholson, finding themselves without legal government, formed themselves into an association to maintain order. The association, although necessary, was denounced as illegal by Hobson in a proclamation dated 23 May 1840. In the meanwhile Wakefield had been busily employed in making land purchases from the natives. He feared anticipation by Australian speculators, and his ardour earned him the cognomen of ‘Wideawake’ from the Maoris. Acting on the express directions of the company, he avoided buying the land for a merely nominal consideration, and in making purchases of extensive tracts reserved an eleventh of the whole for native use. Pursuing his acquisitions steadily, he found himself in possession of twenty million acres on behalf of the company. According to the system of Maori land tenure, however, territory could be alienated neither by the agreement of individuals nor even by the collective assent of the majority of the tribe. Any transfer of territory required the express sanction of every member of the tribe, including those in exile or captivity. Wakefield was ignorant of this condition, which, according to native custom, rendered his title completely invalid. Moreover, on 14 Jan. 1841 Sir George Gipps [q. v.], chiefly to anticipate the greed of Australian land-sharks, issued a proclamation annulling by anticipation all subsequent purchases of land. This was followed on 4 Aug. by an act of the New South Wales legislature, annulling all titles to land in New Zealand which were not confirmed by government. The award of the government commissioner on the company's purchases was not given till some years later, when he cut down their holding of twenty million acres to 283,000. Soon after their arrival Wakefield and the other colonists formed the town of Britannia, a name changed on 28 Nov. 1840 to Wellington at the request of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, in memory of the Duke of Wellington's services on behalf of South Australia. On 4 Aug. 1842 the settlement was formed into a borough. Wakefield continued to reside in Wellington for the rest of his life as agent of the New Zealand Land Company, employing his influence to reconcile the differences between the settlers and government. He died on 19 Sept. 1848. In 1826 he made a runaway match with Emily Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Shelley Sidney, bart., of Penshurst Place, and sister of Philip Sidney, first baron de l'Isle and Dudley. By her he had an only daughter, Emily Charlotte, married on 24 Sept. 1846 to Sir Edward William Stafford, afterwards prime minister of New Zealand for many times between 1856 and 1873.

His elder brother, Arthur Wakefield (1799–1843), colonist, born on 19 Nov. 1799, entered the navy in 1810. He served at Batavia, Bladensburg, where he captured a standard, and Algiers, rose to the rank of captain, and proceeded to New Zealand soon after his brother William as an agent of the New Zealand Land Company. On 2 Oct. 1841 he took the chief part, as agent of the company, in founding the settlement at Nelson. On 17 June 1843, while surveying the neighbourhood, the settlers came into collision with the natives at Wairau, and a number were killed in the conflict, among whom was Wakefield. He was not married.

His younger brother, Felix Wakefield (1807–1875), engineer, was born in 1807 and was educated as an engineer. In early life he was superintendent of the public works in Tasmania. Returning to England in 1847, he joined his brother Edward Gibbon's colonising schemes, and assisted in the establishment of the Canterbury settlement, emigrating thither in 1851. He afterwards imported to Nelson several new species of animals, including red-deer and pheasants. He also greatly promoted horticulture in Canterbury and the neighbourhood. In 1854 he returned to England and was made principal superintendent of the army works corps at the seat of war in the Crimea, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was employed in making the railway from Balaclava to Sebastopol. After peace was declared he visited Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Egypt, returning to New Zealand in 1863. He died at Sumner on 23 Dec. 1875. He was married to Marie Felicie Eliza Builly, by whom he had six sons and three daughters.

[Foster's Royal Lineage of Ancient and Noble Families, ii. 840–5; Sherwin and Wallace's Early History of New Zealand (Brett's Hist. Series), 1890; Mennell's Dict. of Australasian Biogr.; Garnett's Edward Gibbon Wakefield, 1898; E. J. Wakefield's Adventures in New Zealand, 1845; Reeves's Long White Cloud, 1898; Rees's Life of Sir George Grey, 1892, vol. i. passim; Rusden's Hist. of New Zealand, 1883, vol. i. passim; Gisborne's New Zealand Rulers and Statesmen, 1897, pp. 16–24.]

E. I. C.