William Hall-Jones

The Honourable
Sir William Hall-Jones
16th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
10 June 1906  6 August 1906
Monarch Edward VII
Governor William Plunket
Preceded by Richard Seddon
Succeeded by Joseph Ward
Constituency Timaru
2nd High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
In office
Preceded by William Pember Reeves
Succeeded by Thomas Mackenzie
Personal details
Born (1851-01-16)16 January 1851
Folkestone, Kent, England
Died 19 June 1936(1936-06-19) (aged 85)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Fanny Smith[1]
Rosalind Lucy Purss
Children Fred Hall-Jones
Religion Anglican

Sir William Hall-Jones KCMG (16 January 1851 – 19 June 1936) was the 16th Prime Minister of New Zealand from June 1906 until August 1906. He was the interim Prime Minister after the death of Richard Seddon and the return from overseas of Joseph Ward. Hall-Jones was a mild mannered man with a fully earned reputation as an outstanding administrator. Prime Minister Richard Seddon famously said of him; "He is the best administrator I have in my Cabinet".[2]

Early years

Hall-Jones was born in Folkestone, Kent, England, landed at Dunedin in 1873 and became a carpenter and later a builder in Timaru.[1] He developed an interest in local politics serving on the Timaru Borough Council from 1884 to 1886, and again from 1890 to 1892.[1]

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1890 10th Timaru Independent
18901893 11th Timaru Independent Liberal
18931896 12th Timaru Independent Liberal
18961899 13th Timaru Liberal
18991902 14th Timaru Liberal
19021905 15th Timaru Liberal
19051908 16th Timaru Liberal

The death of Richard Turnbull triggered a by-election in the Timaru electorate, which was won by Hall-Jones on 18 August 1890.[3] Hall-Jones had initially refused nomination from locals, citing several upcoming business contracts. However, after persistent calls, Hall-Jones reluctantly accepted despite having no parliamentary ambitions.[4] He represented Timaru in the House of Representatives until his resignation in October 1908.

Hall-Jones proved an independent thinker. He was initially an Independent Liberal holding moderate, progressive views that tended to align him with John Ballance, Sir George Grey and John McKenzie. He joined the Liberal caucus and in 1891 became the party whip alongside Westby Perceval.[5]

Cabinet Minister

Hall-Jones became a cabinet minister in March 1896 given the Public Works portfolio by Prime Minister Richard Seddon following William Pember Reeves resignation to become Agent General for New Zealand in the United Kingdom.[6] His main task in this role was improving the main trunk rail line between Auckland and Wellington. Rejecting a proposal for another incline on the Rimutaka ranges he insisted on using a better route, resulting in the Raurimu spiral. He was also responsible for the eventual construction of the Otira tunnel, going through Arthur's Pass.[1]

Several weeks after entering cabinet he was also appointed Minister of Marine, which he was to hold for over a decade.[7] Hall-Jones was also responsible for passing a bill granting protection to famous navigation dolphin Pelorus Jack by Order in Council under the Sea Fisheries Act on 26 September 1904.[8]

Prime Minister

He was acting Prime Minister during the absence from the country of Seddon in 1906 and formed an administration immediately after Seddon's funeral. During his brief period as Prime Minister, he was Colonial Treasurer, Minister of Labour, Minister of Education, Minister for Public Works, and Minister of Marine.[9]

However he announced that he would only hold power until Sir Joseph Ward's return from abroad. Despite this, there was much speculation in the media that he may attempt to remain in office as Seddon himself had done in 1893.[10]

Later career

Hall-Jones accepted the Railways and Public Works portfolios in the subsequent Ward administration. Later, he succeeded William Pember Reeves as High Commissioner for New Zealand in London in December 1908, returned to New Zealand at the end of his term in 1912, and was appointed to the Legislative Council by Massey.

He died at his home in Wellington on 19 June 1936.[2]

See also



Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Hall-Jones.
Government offices
Preceded by
Richard Seddon
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Joseph Ward
Political offices
Preceded by
William Pember Reeves
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Thomas Thompson
Preceded by
Richard Seddon
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
George Fowlds
Preceded by
Joseph Ward
Minister of Railways
Succeeded by
John A. Millar
Party political offices
Preceded by
Richard Seddon
Leader of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Joseph Ward
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Richard Turnbull
Member of Parliament for Timaru
Succeeded by
James Craigie
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William Pember Reeves
High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Thomas Mackenzie
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