Henry Thomson (New Zealand politician)

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Henry Thomson

Henry Thomson portrait.jpg
Portrait of Henry Thomson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch North
In office
9 Dec 1881 – 27 Jun 1884
Preceded by new electorate
Succeeded by Julius Vogel
10th Mayor of Christchurch
In office
19 Dec 1877 – 18 Dec 1878
Preceded by James Gapes
Succeeded by Charles Thomas Ick
Personal details
Born 1828
Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Died 13 September 1903
Christchurch, New Zealand

Henry Thomson JP (1828 – 13 September 1903) was a 19th-century Mayor of Christchurch and Member of Parliament for the Christchurch North electorate in Canterbury, New Zealand.

Early life

Thomson was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, in 1828.[1] He was the fifth son of William Thomson, a shipbuilder.[2] He received his education at Wigtown, Galloway, Scotland. At age 18, he started work for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.[3]

In 1852, he left after six years to emigrate to Victoria, Australia. Thomson was clerk-in-charge of the office of the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay railway during its construction. He was afterwards superintendent of the wharf and railway station at Sandridge (now called Port Melbourne).[1]

In 1856, Thomson came to Wellington, and a year later moved to Nelson.[1] On 28 April 1859, he married Mary Ann Thomson (née Coates), daughter of Giles Coates, at Christ Church in Nelson.[2] After two years in Nelson, he had a short experience on the Otago gold fields, and in 1865 settled in Christchurch, where he was employed by the jewellers Coates and Co., the company of his father in law. He later became a partner in the firm. On the death of Giles Coates, he became the sole proprietor until 1891, when he retired from business. In 1868, Thomson was manager of the Canterbury section of the New Zealand railways, which then extended from Lyttelton to Selwyn as the Canterbury Great South Railway.[1]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1881–1884 8th Christchurch North Independent

Before 1916, elections for Christchurch City Council were held annually. Thomson was elected onto the town and later city council five times: in 1867, 1868, 1875, 1878 and 1880.[4]

The town council held a meeting on 10 June 1868 to elect its first mayor. In those days, the councillors elected one of their group as mayor, i.e. the position was not elected at large (by the voting public) as is the case today.[5]

Henry Thomson's grave at Linwood Cemetery

The following councillors attended the meeting: William Wilson, James Purvis Jameson, T. Tombs, George Ruddenklau, Henry Thomson, W. A. Sheppard, W. Calvert and John Anderson, who chaired the meeting. Thomson moved that Wilson be elected as the first mayor of Christchurch, and Tombs seconded the motion. The chairman put the motion to the meeting and it was carried unanimously. With the meeting, the council had brought itself under the Municipal Corporations Act 1867.[6][5]

At the end of 1877, Thomson stood for Mayor of Christchurch against the incumbent, James Gapes. Gapes declared that he would not have wanted to oppose a city councillor standing for the office of mayor, but that he stood to clear up his reputation, as unwarranted accusations had been made against him. Thomson, over the course of the election campaign, started to believe that he would not have a chance at the election. The result was very close, with Thomson receiving 474 votes against 461 votes for Gapes. The returning officer declared Thomson elected at the evening of the election day (28 November 1877).[7][8] Thomson was installed as mayor at a meeting on 19 December 1877.[9] Thomson's election caused a vacancy on the City Council. The only candidate for the by-election was James Jameson, who was thus declared elected unopposed.[10]

Thomson stood for re-election against the senior councillor Charles Thomas Ick.[11] Ick defeated Thomson by 601 votes to 343.[12]

He represented the Christchurch North electorate from 1881 to 1884, when he retired.[13] He was a supporter of the Atkinson Ministry.[1]

Westby Perceval, Aaron Ayers, Thomson and Eden George contested the Christchurch South electorate in the 1887 election. Perceval won the election and Thomson came third.[14][15]


Thomson died on 13 September 1903. He was buried at Linwood Cemetery.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cyclopedia Company Limited 1903, p. 95.
  2. ^ a b "Married". Colonist. II (160). 3 May 1859. p. 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Mr Henry Thomson". The Press. LX (11687). 14 September 1903. p. 5. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Councillors of the City of Christchurch". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  5. ^ a b Cyclopedia Company Limited 1903, p. 105.
  6. ^ "Christchurch". The Star (24). 10 June 1868. p. 2. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  7. ^ "The Mayoral Election". The Press. XXVIII (3855). 29 November 1877. p. 3. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Chairmen and mayors". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  9. ^ "News of the Day". The Press. XXVIII (3873). 20 December 1877. p. 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Election Notices". The Press. XXIX (3882). 1 January 1878. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  11. ^ "City Council". The Press (4161). 27 November 1878. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Mayoral Election". Star (3321). 28 November 1878. p. 3. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  13. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 240, 261.
  14. ^ "Christchurch South". The Star (6034). 16 September 1887. p. 2. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  15. ^ "The General Election, 1887". National Library. 1887. p. 2. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database". Christchurch City Libraries. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2011.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Ex Mayors". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Canterbury Provincial District). Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1903. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Mr. Henry Thomson". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Canterbury Provincial District). Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1903. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Christchurch North
Succeeded by
Julius Vogel
Political offices
Preceded by
James Gapes
Mayor of Christchurch
Succeeded by
Charles Thomas Ick
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