Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Rolleston, Hon. William

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Rolleston, Hon. William, M.H.R., is the son of the late Rev. George Rolleston, M.A., who for over fifty years was rector of Maltby, near Doncaster, in Yorkshire. His brother, George Rolleston, F.R.S., was the well-known Professor of Physiology at the university of Oxford. Mr. Rolleston was born on Sept. 19th, 1831, and was educated at Rossall School, Lancashire, under the late Dr. Woolley (q.v.). Entering at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in 1851, he became foundation scholar of his college in the following year. In 1855 he graduated with classical honours. Mr. Rolleston emigrated to New Zealand in 1858, and settled near Lake Coleridge. In 1863 he was appointed a member of the Education Commission, which framed the educational system of the province of Canterbury, and in 1864 became provincial secretary and a member of the Canterbury Board of Education. He was subsequently Under-Secretary for Native Affairs and Inspector of Native Schools under the Colonial Government. Mr. Rolleston was Superintendent of the province of Canterbury from 1868 to 1876. From 1868 to 1884 he was M.H.R. for Avon, and in the latter year was returned for Geraldine. He was a member of the Hall Government from Oct. 1879 to April 1882, holding the portfolios of Minister of Lands, Immigration, Justice, Mines, and Native Affairs, for successive periods. In the Whitaker and Atkinson administrations which succeeded, he was Minister of Lands, Immigration, and Mines from April 1882 to August 1884. In 1891, on the retirement of Mr. John Bryce from the leadership of the opposition to the Ballance Government, he was unanimously selected to succeed him. He did much to promote the adoption of the system of perpetual leases.