The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Shortland, Lieutenant Willoughby

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Shortland, Lieutenant Willoughby, R.N., sometime acting Governor of New Zealand, came of a Devonshire family, and entered the royal navy. In 1839 he accompanied Captain Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand—on one of whose ships he had been a lieutenant—to that colony, which had not then been annexed by England. Landing at Auckland in Jan. 1840, the British sovereignty was formally proclaimed, and lieutenant Shortland appointed Colonial Secretary. In this capacity he was sent in June of the same year to Port Nicholson (Wellington) with a proclamation by the Governor dissolving the association which the settlers had formed for their mutual protection, and commanding them to recognise his own authority as the Queen's representative. The Port Nicholson settlers disclaimed all notions of disloyalty, and received Lieutenant Shortland—who does not appear to have been formally appointed Colonial Secretary till May 1841—with an effusion which dissipated all doubts in regard to their attitude. He acted for some months as police magistrate at Port Nicholson. On the death of Captain Hobson in Sept. 1842; Lieutenant Shortland assumed the reins and acted as administrator of the government of New Zealand till the arrival of Captain Fitzroy in Dec. 1843. This was an eventful period in the history of the colony, the massacre at Wairan occurring during his temporary régime. In his despatches home he condemned the course taken in the interest of the white claimants which led to the catastrophe, and he issued a proclamation locally warning all claimants to lands to avoid exercising acts of ownership until the rights in dispute had been adjudicated on. Lieutenant Shortland was very unpopular, and a petition was sent from Auckland in 1843 praying that he might not be appointed Governor of New Zealand, of which there seemed some fear. On Dec. 31st, 1843, immediately after the arrival of Captain Fitzroy, Captain Hobson's successor, Lieutenant Shortland, resigned the Colonial Secretaryship, and was subsequently appointed Governor of Nevis, and later on Lieutenant-Governor of Tobago, where he held office from 1854 to 1856. Lieutenant Shortland, who married in 1842 Isabella Kate Johnston, daughter of Robert A. Fitzgerald, of Geraldine, county Limerick, and Isabella (Johnston) his wife, retired to live on his property at Courtlands, Kingsbridge, Devon, where he died in 1869. His brother, Dr. Edward Shortland, who also resided in New Zealand, was the author of "The Southern Districts of New Zealand" (1851, Longmans); "Maori Traditions and Superstitions" (1854, Longmans); "Maori Religion and Mythology" (1882, Longmans).