Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shortland, Willoughby
SHORTLAND, WILLOUGHBY (1804–1869), acting governor of New Zealand, born in 1804, was the son of Captain George Thomas Shortland [q. v.] Edward Shortland [q. v.] and Peter Frederick Shortland [q. v.] were his brothers. Willoughby was educated at the Royal Naval College, and entered the service on 9 Jan. 1818. Being gazetted a lieutenant on 18 Aug. 1828, he served in the Galatea, 42 guns, and in the following year in the Ranger, 28 guns, on the Jamaica station. On 21 March 1831 he took the command of the Skipjack, a schooner of 5 guns, and in her remained in the West Indies until June 1833. In 1839 he accompanied Captain William Hobson, the first governor of New Zealand, to that colony, which had not then been annexed by England. Landing at Auckland on 29 Jan. 1840, the British sovereignty was proclaimed, and Lieutenant Shortland appointed colonial secretary. He proceeded to Port Nicholson, Wellington, and the English living there very willingly acknowledged Queen Victoria's authority and Shortland's nomination as their police magistrate. On the death of Captain Hobson on 10 Sept. 1842, the lieutenant administered the government of New Zealand until the arrival of Captain Robert Fitzroy on 31 Dec. 1843. During Shortland's temporary government the massacre of the white men by the Maoris at Wairau took place on 17 June 1843, and in his despatches to the home government he expressed his disapproval of the conduct of the settlers, to which he attributed the massacre. This action made him unpopular, and, when a report of his nomination as governor of New Zealand was circulated, a petition was sent from Auckland praying that he might not be appointed.
On 31 Dec. 1843 he resigned the colonial secretaryship, and in 1845 became president of the island of Nevis in the Leeward Islands. Removing from Nevis, he was governor of Tobago from 10 Jan. 1854 until 1856, and then, returning to England, resided on his property, Courtlands, Charleton, Kingsbridge, Devonshire, until his death there on 7 Oct. 1869. On 1 July 1864 he had been gazetted a retired commander in the navy. He married, in 1842, Isabella Kate Johnston, daughter of Robert A. Fitzgerald of Geraldine, co. Limerick.
[Gisborne's New Zealand Rulers, 1886, pp. 33–6; Mennell's Australian Biogr. 1892, p. 416; O'Byrne's Naval Biogr. 1849, p. 1065; Rusden's Hist. of New Zealand, 1883, i. 313–48.]