The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Gillon, Edward Thomas

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Gillon, Edward Thomas, was born in Douglas, Isle of Man, in Jan. 1842. He arrived in New Zealand with his parents in 1851 and settled in Otago, where for several years he endured the rough experiences of settlement in a new country. While quite a youth he became a contributor to the Otago Witness, and was engaged reporting the Provincial Council proceedings for that paper, when, in 1861, the Otago goldfields were discovered. Mr. Gillon was at once sent to Gabriel's Gully as special correspondent for the Witness, and was the first press representative on the diggings. He remained there until recalled to Dunedin to again report in the Provincial Council, and he was so engaged when Mr. (now Sir Julius) Vogel arrived from Australia and, entering into partnership with Mr. Cutten, the proprietor of the Witness, established the Otago Daily Times, the first daily paper published in New Zealand. Mr. Gillon joined the Times staff as chief reporter, and remained on it until early the following year, when severe illness compelled him to relinquish newspaper work for a time. He accepted a Government appointment which, after two or three years, he resigned to resume journalistic work. In 1867 he went to Wellington as a member of the first Hansard staff, and was subsequently appointed Clerk of Private Bills to the New Zealand Parliament. He resigned this office after a brief tenure in order to devote himself exclusively to literary work, and became connected with the Wellington Evening Post as well as acting as special correspondent for the Otago Daily Times, Lyttelton Times, and other leading journals. In 1872, when cable communication between Europe and Australia was first established, Sir Julius Vogel brought about a combination of New Zealand papers for obtaining supplies of telegraphic news, and Mr. Gillon was selected as manager. After a time this association handed its business over to a private firm, and Mr. Gillon rejoined the Post as editor. In 1878 another press association was formed, and Mr. Gillon was again appointed manager. In less than two years this association absorbed all opposition, and developed into the present United Press Association, which Mr. Gillon continued to manage with great success until 1884, when he resigned in order to resume his former position of editor of the Post, which he still retains. Mr. Gillon is recognised as the doyen of New Zealand journalists, and when the Institute of Journalists was formed recently he was unanimously chosen as Chairman of the Council. At the time of the abolition of the provinces he was one of the city representatives in the Provincial Council of Wellington. Some years ago one of the prizes offered by the New Zealand Parliament for the best essays on the settlement of the people on the land was awarded to Mr. Gillon. He is a Justice of the Peace for the colony, and occupies a prominent position in the Masonic body. As chairman of the central executive committee, he was the leading spirit in the movement which recently resulted successfully in the establishment of an independent Grand Lodge of New Zealand. As he declined to accept active office, the rank of Past Deputy Grand Master was conferred upon him, in recognition of his services to the craft.