The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Gorst, Right Hon. Sir John Eldon

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Gorst, Right Hon. Sir John Eldon, M.P., Q.C., M.A., second son of the late Edward Chaddock Lowndes (formerly Gorst), of Preston, co. Lancaster, by Elizabeth, daughter of J. D. Nesham of Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, was born on May 24th, 1835, at Preston, and was educated at Preston Grammar School, and St. John's College, Cambridge, of which he was sometime Fellow. He graduated B.A. as third wrangler in 1857, and in 1860 he proceeded to the M.A. degree. He entered at the Inner Temple in April 1857, and in 1860, upon the death of his father, he emigrated to New Zealand, with the idea of becoming a lay helper to Bishop Selwyn. In 1861, having acquainted himself with the Maori language, he was despatched into the Upper Waikato district as Civil Commissioner. Here he lived at Te Awamutu, occupied in endeavouring to wean the Maoris from their allegiance to the "king" movement. For this purpose, at his request, the Government set up an industrial school, and established a newspaper called Pihoihoi Mokemoke in the native tongue, to counteract the influence of the Hokioi, which was the organ of the kingites. The Maoris, however, incensed by an article in the former, seized the plant, and after a stubborn resistance on his part, expelled Mr. Gorst from the Waikato. He returned to Auckland in April 1863. Subsequently he accompanied Mr. (afterwards Sir) F. Dillon Bell to Australia to recruit 5000 military settlers for the Waikato. Mr. Gorst then returned to England, and on May 1st, 1865, was called to the bar, and practised on the Northern Circuit. From 1866 to 1868 he sat as Conservative member for Cambridge, but in the latter year lost his seat. Mr. Gorst was appointed Q.C. on June 25th, 1875, and in the same year was elected to Parliament for Chatham. From 1870 to 1877 he was hon. sec. of the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, and in Nov. 1884 was a member of the Royal Commission on merchant shipping. In June 1885 he became Solicitor-General in Lord Salisbury's Administration, which office he held till Jan. 1886, when the Conservatives went out of office. In July of the same year, when Lord Salisbury came in again, he became Under-Secretary for India, which office he exchanged for that of Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 1891. In 1890 he was British plenipotentiary to the Labour Conference in Berlin. He was created knight bachelor in 1885, and privy councillor in 1890, Sir John Gorst married at Geelong, Victoria, on August 18th, 1860, Mary Elizabeth, only daughter of Rev. Lorenzo Moore, of Christchurch, N.Z., sometime incumbent of St. Peter's, Hull. In July 1892 he was elected for Cambridge University. Sir John is the author of "The Maori King" (1864). He is chairman of the London Board of the New Zealand Steam Shipping Company, Limited.