|Cathcart Wason, ca 1878|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
1876 – 1879
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
1896 – 1899
|Member of the United Kingdom Parliament
for Orkney and Shetland
1900 – 1921
|Born||17 November 1848
|Died||19 April 1921
|Spouse(s)||Alice Seymour Bell|
|Relations||Rigby Wason (father)
Eugene Wason (brother)
Peter Cathcart Wason (grand-nephew)
(John) Cathcart Wason (17 November 1848 – 19 April 1921), generally known as Cathcart Wason, was a Scottish farmer and politician who served as a Member of Parliament in two countries: first in New Zealand and then in Scotland, after the failure of his colonial ventures. An unusually large man (he was over 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall), he is noted both as an innovative farmer and for having passed his time in the British House of Commons by knitting.
Born in Colmonell near Girvan, South Ayrshire, he was the son of Rigby Wason and his wife Euphemia McTier. Rigby Wason was a barrister and a successful farmer who converted much of his Corwar estate from moor to arable land; he had also served as a Member of Parliament. He was educated at Laleham and at Rugby School. He came to Canterbury in New Zealand in 1868.
Corwar and Barrhill
Lendon was a 20,000 acres (81 km2) run on the south bank of the Rakaia River on New Zealand's South Island, about 17 km from the town of Rakaia. The land was first taken up by John Hall, but had changed ownership several times before Wason bought it, including 1,250 acres (5.1 km2) of freehold land, in February 1869 or April 1870 (sources vary). Wason renamed his property Corwar after his father's lands in Scotland, and set about trying to create a model estate.
His planting of pine trees and of oaks, walnuts and poplars extended over 600 acres (2.4 km2) and allowed shelter from the prevailing north-west winds to allow sheep farming and the growing of wheat, while water power was used for agricultural machinery. He bought and sold land, and by 1882 Corwar was consolidated as a freehold estate of just over 5,000 acres (20 km2) with a large mansion overlooking the river, complete with gate lodge and gate-keeper.
On the estate, Wason built a model village called Barrhill, approached from the north, east, south and west by avenues lined respectively with sycamores, birches, poplars and oaks. At the centre was a market square, with post office, bakery and other facilities and fifteen cottages were built.
However, Wason had expected a railway to be built near Barrhill, but when it was built on a more southerly route, the village began to decline. Dwindling population forced the closure of the school in 1938, although the Church of St John the Evangelist is still in use. Most of the buildings were constructed from pine wood grown on the estate, and all that remains now are the three concrete buildings: church, school and schoolhouse, each surrounded by a circle of oak trees. The Barrhill Village Preservation Society now offers walks around the area.
Without the railway, Wason saw his project as doomed, and sold up in 1900. The mansion was burned down soon after and all that remains is the gate lodge, now the home of the Corwar Lodge Museum, displaying artefacts of the colonial era.
New Zealand political career
|Parliament of New Zealand|
Wason was elected to the House of Representatives in the 1876 election on 11 January for the electorate (constituency) of Coleridge, and was appointed as a government whip the following year. On 14 April 1879, he resigned his seat in Parliament, as well as his membership on the Ashburton County Council.
Wason stood for election in the newly formed Wakanui electorate in the 1881 general election. The 9 December election was contested by Wason, Joseph Ivess and Charles Purnell. Wason won by a small margin, and Ivess petitioned against the election on numerous grounds. The election petitions court started hearing the case in February 1882. Members were sworn into the 8th New Zealand Parliament on 18 May 1882 for its first session; Wason was not present. On the following day, the results of the various election petitions were read out, and the 1881 Wakanui election was declared void. Wason lost his seat in Parliament without having ever taken it. The resulting 16 June 1882 by-election was won by Ivess.
Wason did not stand again until the 1893 general election, when he ran unsuccessfully in the Ashburton electorate. He was elected as MP for Selwyn in the 1896 election on 21 December. That parliamentary term finished on 15 November 1899 and that is when Wason retired from politics in New Zealand.
Politics ran in the Wason family. His father Rigby was an MP for Ipswich (1831–37) before Cathcart was born, and his brother Eugene represented two UK constituencies (South Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire) at various times between 1885 and 1918.
Wason travelled overseas on several occasions, marrying Alice Seymour Bell, in Sydney, Australia on 18 June 1873. In 1886 was he elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, and in 1887 he followed his father and brother and was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple, but did not practise.
Return to Scotland
Wason sold his New Zealand estate in 1900 and returned to Scotland, where he was elected as Liberal Unionist MP for Orkney and Shetland in the 1900 general election, and bought a house in London and a property in Ayrshire not far from the original Corwar. He resigned his seat on 7 October 1902 and successfully stood for re-election in the 1902 by-election as an Independent Liberal. He was re-elected as a member of the Liberal Party in the subsequent general elections in 1906, January 1910, December 1910 and 1918. He continued to sit as MP for Orkney and Shetland until his death.
His brother Eugene was chairman of the Scottish Liberal MPs from 1908 to 1918.
- Wason, John Cathcart (1905). East Africa and Uganda: or, Our Last Land. preface by Sir Harry Johnston, G.C.M.G. London: Francis Griffiths.
- Wason, John Cathcart (1915). The Kaiser’s Responsibility. Address given at the Congregational Church, West Hampstead, on May 2nd, 1915. London: P. S. King & Son.; later re-published in revised form as "The Beast".
- Rayment 2010.
- Johnson-Laird, Philip (25 April 2003). "Peter Wason". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Pawson 2007.
- "Wason family tree 1". Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- "Wason family tree 2". Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- Acland 1946, pp. 101-102.
- Some sources are unclear on whether the avenues were actually planted, but Let's Go NZ suggests that they were.
- The Best Of Geraldine: Tourist information on the area around Barhill
- New Zealand Walking and Adventure Festival
- Scholefield 1925, p. 145.
- "The Star. Wednesday, April 16, 1879". The Star (3436). 16 April 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
- "The Star. Thursday, April 17, 1879". The Star (3437). 17 April 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
- "The General Elections". The Star (4248). 2 December 1881. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- "Election Petition Court". The Star (4316). 22 February 1882. p. 4. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- "Thursday, May 18". Clutha Leader VIII (450). 26 May 1882. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- "Friday, 19 May". Clutha Leader VIII (450). 26 May 1882. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- "Wakanui Election". The Star (4414). 17 June 1882. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- "The Elections". The Star (5739) (Christchurch). 5 December 1896. p. 6. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- Craig 1989, p. 553.
- Department of Information Services (9 June 2009). "Appointments to the Chiltern Hundreds and Manor of Northstead Stewardships since 1850". House of Commons Library. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- Wason, Bob. "John Cathcart Wason, M.P. 1849- 1921". Wason Family History. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Acland, Leopold George Dyke (1946). "Lendon, afterwards called Corwar — (Run 116)". The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Craig, F. W. S. (1989) . British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
- Pawson, Eric (22 June 2007). "Wason, John Cathcart 1848/1849? - 1921". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Rayment, Leigh. "Historical list of MPs: constituencies beginning with "O"". Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- Scholefield, Guy (1925) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record (2nd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
- Canterbury-West Coast: Barrhill-Corwar Lodge Preservation Society contact details
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Cathcart Wason
|New Zealand Parliament|
|Member of Parliament for Coleridge
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Wakanui
|Member of Parliament for Selwyn
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Leonard Lyell
|Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland
Sir Malcolm Smith