New Zealand general election, 1855

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1855 general election
New Zealand
← 1853 26 October – 28 December 1855 1860–61 →

All 37 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
  First party
  Henry Sewell, ca 1872.jpg
Leader Henry Sewell
Party Independent
Leader's seat Town of Christchurch
Last election 37 seats
Seats won 37
Seat change Steady
Popular vote N/A
Percentage N/A
Swing N/A

Prime Minister before election

Office Established

Prime Minister-designate

Henry Sewell

The 1855 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 2nd term. It was the second national election ever held in New Zealand, and the first one which elected a Parliament that had full authority to govern the colony.


The first New Zealand elections had been held after the passage of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The 1st Parliament did not have the ability to appoint the executive branch (Cabinet) of the New Zealand government, however, and a major dispute arose between Parliament and the Governor. In the 2nd Parliament, Parliament gained the powers it sought — for this reason, some see the 1855 elections, not the 1853 elections, as the beginning of New Zealand democracy.

At the time of the 1855 elections, there were no political parties in New Zealand. As such, all candidates were independents. Governments were formed based on loose coalitions, with prospective Prime Ministers needing to seek support from enough individual MPs to command a majority. This means that nobody could truly be said to have "won" an election — a government usually rose or fell based on its ability to make deals with MPs, not on election results.

The election

In the 1855 elections, voting occurred on a different day for each individual seat. The first seat was elected on 26 October, and the final seat was elected on 28 December. An estimated 9,891 people were eligible to vote, although records are poor for some areas. The number of electoral districts was 24, with some districts electing multiple MPs. The total number of seats was 37.[1] Some parts of the colony were not part of any district, and did not have representation in Parliament.[2]



Member Electorate Province MP's term Election date
Cuff, JohnJohn Cuff Akaroa Canterbury First 28 December[3]
Campbell, LoganLogan Campbell Auckland, City ofCity of Auckland Auckland First 27 October[4]
Beckham, ThomasThomas Beckham Auckland, City ofCity of Auckland Auckland First 27 October[5]
Daldy, WilliamWilliam Daldy Auckland, City ofCity of Auckland Auckland First 27 October[3]
Merriman, FrederickFrederick Merriman Auckland Suburbs Auckland Second 27 October[6]
Brodie, WalterWalter Brodie Auckland Suburbs Auckland First 27 October[7]
Carleton, HughHugh Carleton Bay of Islands Auckland Second 24 November[4]
Brittin, DingleyDingley Brittin Christchurch Country Canterbury First 20 December[7]
Hall, JohnJohn Hall Christchurch Country Canterbury First 20 December[8]
Sewell, HenryHenry Sewell Christchurch, Town ofTown of Christchurch Canterbury Second 18 December[9]
Cargill, JohnJohn Cargill Dunedin Country Otago Second 11 December[4]
Cargill, WilliamWilliam Cargill Dunedin Country Otago First 11 December[4]
Macandrew, JamesJames Macandrew Dunedin, Town ofTown of Dunedin Otago Second 11 December[10]
Brown, CharlesCharles Brown Grey and Bell New Plymouth First 8 November[7]
Ludlam, AlfredAlfred Ludlam Hutt Wellington Second 16 November[11]
Bell, DillonDillon Bell Hutt Wellington First 16 November[5]
FitzGerald, JamesJames FitzGerald Lyttelton, Town ofTown of Lyttelton Canterbury Second 21 December[12]
Parker, CharlesCharles Parker Motueka and Massacre Bay Nelson First 8 November[13]
Domett, AlfredAlfred Domett Nelson, Town ofTown of Nelson Nelson First 12 November[14]
Stafford, EdwardEdward Stafford Nelson, Town ofTown of Nelson Nelson First 12 November[15]
Richmond, WilliamWilliam Richmond New Plymouth, Town ofTown of New Plymouth New Plymouth First 5 November[16]
Henderson, ThomasThomas Henderson Northern Division Auckland First 27 October[17]
Lee, WalterWalter Lee Northern Division Auckland Second 27 October[11]
East, AlfredAlfred East Omata New Plymouth First 10 November[14]
Williamson, JohnJohn Williamson Pensioner Settlements Auckland First 27 October[18]
Greenwood, JosephJoseph Greenwood Pensioner Settlements Auckland Second 27 October[19]
Taylor, CharlesCharles Taylor Southern Division Auckland Second 26 October[20]
Graham, RobertRobert Graham Southern Division Auckland First 26 October[19]
Elliott, CharlesCharles Elliott Waimea Nelson First 19 November[14]
Travers, WilliamWilliam Travers Waimea Nelson Second 6 November[21]
Smith, JohnJohn Smith Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay Wellington First 26 November[22]
Wells, WilliamWilliam Wells Wairau Nelson First 19 November[23]
Fox, WilliamWilliam Fox Wanganui and Rangitikei Wellington First 27 November[24]
Clifford, CharlesCharles Clifford Wellington, City ofCity of Wellington Wellington Second 13 November[25]
Featherston, IsaacIsaac Featherston Wellington, City ofCity of Wellington Wellington Second 13 November[26]
Fitzherbert, WilliamWilliam Fitzherbert Wellington, City ofCity of Wellington Wellington First 13 November[12]
Ward, DudleyDudley Ward Wellington Country Wellington First 15 November[27]


  1. ^ "General elections 1853-2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Wilson 1984.
  3. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 102.
  4. ^ a b c d Scholefield 1950, p. 99.
  5. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 95.
  6. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 126.
  7. ^ a b c Scholefield 1950, p. 97.
  8. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 111.
  9. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 138.
  10. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 121.
  11. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 120.
  12. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 106.
  13. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 131.
  14. ^ a b c Scholefield 1950, p. 104.
  15. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 140.
  16. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 136.
  17. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 113.
  18. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 148.
  19. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 109.
  20. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 143.
  21. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 144.
  22. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 139.
  23. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 147.
  24. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 107.
  25. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 100.
  26. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 105.
  27. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 146.


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
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