Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Stafford, Edward William

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STAFFORD, Sir EDWARD WILLIAM (1819–1901), prime minister of New Zealand, born on 23 April 1819 at Edinburgh, was eldest son of Berkeley Buckingham Stafford of Maine, co. Louth, and of Anne, third daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Duff Tytler. His mother's cousin was Patrick Fraser Tytler [q. v.], and on early visits to Edinburgh he joined a cultured circle which widened for life his intellectual interests. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he emigrated in January 1843 to Nelson, New Zealand, where he at once took part in public affairs. In 1853, when provincial councils were called into existence by Sir George Grey [q. v. Suppl. I], Stafford was chosen to be superintendent of Nelson. While he was on the council he carried through an education ordinance which was afterwards made the basis of an Education Act applying to the whole colony, and a road board ordinance. He retired from the council in 1856.

In the general election of 1855 he was elected to the House of Representatives, and on 2 June 1856 he formed, after the granting of representative institutions, the first government which was able to hold office for any length of time. On 4 Nov. he also assumed the office of colonial secretary. During his premiership, which was distinguished by a resolve to respect the best parliamentary traditions of the mother country, he created three new provinces, Hawke's Bay in 1858, Marlborough in 1859, and Southland in 1861, though a few years later Southland, by its own wish, was reunited to its parent colony of Otago. He transferred the land revenue and part of the customs revenue to the provincial councils by Act of Parliament, and since the home government had refused to allow a bill to this effect, he made arrangements by which the councils were virtually placed in control of their own land. He also passed several bills permitting the provinces to raise loans. In 1858 he secured a bill allowing the governor to formulate bye-laws for native districts based on the expressed wishes of tribal assemblies, a second bill establishing itinerant courts of justice and native juries, and a third bill providing grants for Maori schools.

In 1859 he visited England in order to discuss plans for a Panama mail service and for establishing military settlements in the north island. He was unsuccessful in the latter project, but an agreement which he concluded for a Panama postal service was approved by the New Zealand government. When he returned in 1860, he found that his party had plunged the country into war with the Maoris. Although if he had been on the spot he might have prevented a conflict, he considered himself committed to the policy of his colleagues, and continued to support the continuance of the war until 1870, when peace was finally assured. In July 1861 Sir William Fox defeated the Stafford ministry by one vote on a general vote of confidence, and at the same time Governor Gore Browne was replaced by Sir George Grey. When Fox resigned in 1862 Stafford refused to form a ministry, and he remained out of office until 1865. On 16 Oct. of that year he defeated the Weld government, although Weld's followers had as a rule belonged to his old party. Himself a centralist, Stafford came into office at the head of the provincialists. In 1866 he reconstructed his cabinet, replacing the provincialists by those members of the Weld government with whom he was really in sympathy. Meanwhile he was holding the office of colonial secretary (16 Oct. 1865-28 June 1869), colonial treasurer (18 Oct. 1865-12 June 1866), and postmaster-general (31 Oct. 1865-8 May 1866, and 6 Feb.-28 June 1869). He remained in office for three years. In 1867 he took over the provincial loans at par, and in the same year special representation was given to the native race.

In 1869 McLean and Fox together carried a vote of want of confidence in native affairs against him. An impression prevailed that he was inclined to press the war in circumstances where forbearance and compromise were more to the interests of the colonists. On 10 Sept. 1872 he again became premier on a motion condemning the administration of the Fox-Vogel public works policy, but his tenure of office only lasted for a month, and he resigned on 11 Oct. upon a no-confidence motion carried by Vogel.

In 1874 he returned to England, where he Lived for the rest of his life. At various times he was offered but refused the governorship of Queensland and that of Madras. In 1886 he was commissioner for the colonial and Indian exhibition. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1879 and G.C.M.G. in 1887. He died at 27 Chester Square, London, W., on 14 Feb. 1901. He married (1) on 24 Sept. 1846 Emily Chariotte (d. 18 April 1857), only child of Colonel William Wakefield and Emily Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Shelley Sidney, first baronet; (2) on 5 Dec. 1859 Mary, third daughter of Thomas Houghton Bartley, speaker of the legislative council. New Zealand. By her he had three sons and three daughters.

[The Times, 15 Feb. 1901; Mennell's Dict. of Australas. Biog.; Gisborne's New Zealand Rulers and Statesmen; Rusden's Hist. of New Zealand; Reeves's The Long White Cloud; New Zealand Herald, 2 March 1901; Canterbury Press, 2 March 1901; Christchurch Press; Lyttelton Times; Auckland Star; private information from Mr. E. Howard Stafford.]

A. B. W.