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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Weld, Sir Frederick Aloysius

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Weld, Sir Frederick Aloysius, G.C.M.G., sometime Governor of Western Australia and Tasmania, third son of Humphrey Weld, of Chideock Manor, Dorset, by his marriage with the Hon. Christina Maria, daughter of Charles, 7th Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, and nephew of Cardinal Weld, of Lulworth Castle, was born on May 9th, 1823, and educated at Stonyhurst College and at Freiburg in Switzerland. Having decided to embrace a colonial career, he emigrated to New Zealand in 1844, and embarked in pastoral pursuits, engaging meantime in much adventurous exploring work. Four years after his arrival in the colony Sir George Grey offered Mr. Weld a seat in the then wholly nominee Legislature. This, however, he declined, and took an active part in the agitation for representative institutions. As soon as these were conceded Mr. Weld was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1854 he was made a member of the Executive Council as one of the first inchoate Government which preceded the first responsible ministry, and from Nov. 1860 was Minister for Native Affairs in the first Stafford Ministry until their defeat in July 1861. In Nov. 1864 Mr. Weld became Premier of New Zealand, holding during the greater part of his bare year of office the portfolio of Chief Secretary. Prior to the formation of his Ministry he put forward, as the basis of his policy, the immediate withdrawal of all the Imperial troops and the future conduct of the war by the colonists themselves, with the aid of the friendly tribes. This policy proved as successful as it was bold, and secured, not only the approval of the Governor and local legislature, but of the Imperial Government and Parliament. When Mr. Weld came into office on this epoch-making occasion, the country was in a state of war; the general of the army and the Governor of the colony were at variance; escaped Maori prisoners held a fortified position within sight of the capital; Government debentures were unsaleable, and the banks refused advances, whilst the colony was exposed to what seemed a ruinous military expenditure, over which they virtually exercised no control In the face of these troubles the Fox-Whittaker Government had resigned without meeting Parliament. Mr. Weld proposed to carry on the war by small bodies of trained bushmen, relying much on the effect of pushing roads through the disturbed country. On these lines he succeeded in turning back the tide of war. He advised and carried out the confiscation of the lands of the Waikato tribe, as a mark of its defeat; and it has never since taken up arms. He also sent an expedition of colonial troops to punish the murderers of the Rev. Mr. Volkner. His administration not only dealt some effective strokes in war, but took measures for the establishment of peace. They opened Native Land Courts, carried the Native Rights Bill (introduced by Mr. Fitzgerald, the Minister for Native Affairs), and raised the question of native representation. To secure the unity of the colony, they brought about the removal of the capital to Wellington, the site impartially selected by Commissioners from the Australian colonies. The credit of the colony was restored; the finances, in the hands of Mr. (now Sir) William Fitzherbert, the Treasurer, were placed on a better footing; the Panama line was subsidised; an electric telegraph cable was ordered so as to connect the two islands of New Zealand, and a scientific department was established under Dr. (now Sir) James Hector. In Oct. 1865 the Weld Government was defeated on a vote for defence purposes, and resigned, Mr. Weld, whose health had broken down going to England for rest and change. Such was the repute which his successful rule had gained him with the Imperial authorities, that soon after his arrival there the Duke of Buckingham, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, expressed his intention of offering him a Colonial Governorship. A change of Ministry took place; and Earl Granville carried out the intention of his predecessor, by appointing him Governor of Western Australia. Under Mr. Weld's administration various industries were developed; a partially representative legislature was established; municipal institutions were introduced; an Education Act was passed, which gave general satisfaction; a system was adopted which placed all religious denominations on a footing of equality, grants of land being made by the Governor to all of them in proportion to their number, for churches, schools, glebes and charitable institutions; telegraph lines were constructed throughout the colony; steam communication was opened up along the coasts, so as to promote the settlement of various parts of the territory; and important explorations were successfully carried out by the present Premier of the colony, Sir John Forrest. Two of Mr. Weld's last acts as Governor of Western Australia were to cut the first sod of the first Government railway, and to plant the first telegraph post of a line which ultimately connected Western Australia with Adelaide and the whole of Eastern Australia. In Jan. 1875 Mr. Weld, who held office in Western Australia from Sept. 1869 to Dec. 1874, was appointed Governor of Tasmania, where he remained till April 1880, when he was knighted and appointed Governor of the Straits Settlements, a position which he held till 1887, when he retired from the colonial service on a pension. Sir Frederick, who was created C.M.G. in 1875, K.C.M.G. in 1880, and G.C.M.G. in 1885, married on March 2nd, 1858, Filomena Mary Anne, eldest daughter of the late Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps de Lisle, of Grace Dieu Manor and Garenden Park, Leicester. Accounts of his explorations of the uninhabited districts of the Middle Island of New Zealand appeared in the New Zealand Government Gazette in 1851, and Province of Nelson in 1855. He is author of "Hints to Intending Sheep Farmers in New Zealand," and of a paper on the great volcanic eruption of Manna Loa (Sandwich Islands) in 1855; and ascent of that mountain (journal of the Royal Geological Society, London, 1856); also "Notes on New Zealand Affairs" (London, 1869). He died in England on July 20th, 1891.