William Downie Stewart Jr.

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The Honourable
William Downie Stewart Jr.
William Downie Stewart.jpg
24th Minister of Finance
In office
24 May 1926 – 10 December 1928
Prime Minister Gordon Coates
Preceded by William Nosworthy
Succeeded by Joseph Ward
In office
22 September 1931 – 28 January 1933
Prime Minister George Forbes
Preceded by George Forbes
Succeeded by Gordon Coates
Personal details
Born 29 July 1878
Dunedin New Zealand
Died 29 September 1949
Dunedin New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Political party Reform

William Downie Stewart (29 July 1878 – 29 September 1949) was a New Zealand Finance Minister, Mayor of Dunedin and writer.[1]

Early life

Stewart was born in Dunedin in 1878. His father was William Downie Stewart, a lawyer and politician. His mother was Rachel Hepburn, daughter of George Hepburn.[2] One of his four siblings was Rachelina (Rachel) Hepburn Armitage.[3] Stewart's mother died within months of his birth, leaving him and his four siblings to be raised by nannies and nurses. From 1888-1894, he attended Otago Boys' High School and continued his studies at the University of Otago.[1]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1914–1919 19th Dunedin West Reform
1919–1922 20th Dunedin West Reform
1922–1925 21st Dunedin West Reform
1925–1928 22nd Dunedin West Reform
1928–1931 23rd Dunedin West Reform
1931–1935 24th Dunedin West Reform

Downie Stewart was the author of a number of books.[2] He and the American economist James Edward Le Rossignol of the University of Denver published State socialism in New Zealand in 1910. A reviewer called the book "an illuminating study of the remarkable series of instructive experiments in socialistic legislation, for which New Zealand has become conspicuous, together with that Australian Commonwealth, which is its nearest neighbour."[4]

Downie Stewart was Mayor of Dunedin (1913–1914).[2] He represented the Dunedin West electorate from 1914 to 1935.[5] His father had previously represented the Dunedin West electorate.[5]

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[6]

Minister of Finance and resignation

Downie Stewart was Finance Minister in 1931–1933. He resigned after the devaluation of the New Zealand currency, a measure he opposed.[2][7][8] Downie Stewart stood in the 1935 general election as an Independent United-Reform Coalition candidate, losing to Labour's Dr Gervan McMillan.


  1. ^ a b "Story: Stewart, William Downie". Teara. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dale, Stephanie. "Stewart, William Downie - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Wilkie, Yvonne M. "Rachelina Hepburn Armitage". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017. 
  4. ^ L.L.P. (1911). "State Socialism in New Zealand". Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Wiley. 74 (7): 754–756. doi:10.2307/2339748. JSTOR 2339748. 
  5. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 141.
  6. ^ "Official jubilee medals". Evening Post. CXIX (105). 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Wood, p. 118
  8. ^ Burdon, 'New Dominion', p. 161


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Francis Bell
Succeeded by
Frank Rolleston
Preceded by
Thomas Sidey
Succeeded by
George Forbes
Preceded by
Frank Rolleston
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Thomas Wilford
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