James Mills (ship owner)

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James Mills in ca 1887

Sir James Mills (30 July 1847 – 23 January 1936) was a prominent New Zealand businessman and politician. He founded the Union Steam Ship Company in Dunedin in 1875.


Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1887 9th Port Chalmers Independent
1887–1890 10th Port Chalmers Independent
1890–1893 11th Port Chalmers Independent

Mills was born in Wellington and started as clerk to Johnny Jones, and after Jones’ death floated the Union Company with backing from Peter Denny in return for orders for his Dumbarton shipyard in Scotland. The Union Company became a major shipping line, with a near-monopoly on trans-Tasman shipping, and was referred to as the Southern Octopus.

He represented Waikouaiti on the Otago Provincial Council in 1870, and again from 1873 to 1876.[1] Later, he represented the Port Chalmers electorate in Parliament from a by-election in 1887 to 1893, when he retired.[2]

He was knighted in 1907, and made KCMG in 1909.

The Union Company was sold by Mills to the P&O Line in 1917. He died in London in 1936, having been a UK resident since 1907. Mount Mills in Antarctica is named after Mills.[3]


  1. ^ Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. p. 222. 
  2. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 220. OCLC 154283103. 
  3. ^ "Mount Mills". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 10 June 2012.