William Whiteway

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For other people named William Whiteway, see William Whiteway (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
William Whiteway
QC KCMG
Whiteway.jpg
Premier of the Colony of Newfoundland
In office
1878–1885
Monarch Queen Victoria
Governor John Hawley Glover
Henry Berkeley Fitzhardinge Maxse
Glover 2nd term
Preceded by Frederick Carter
Succeeded by Robert Thorburn
Premier of the Colony of Newfoundland
In office
1889–1894
Monarch Victoria
Governor Henry Arthur Blake
Terence O'Brien
Preceded by Robert Thorburn
Succeeded by Augustus F. Goodridge
Premier of the Colony of Newfoundland
In office
1895–1897
Monarch Victoria
Governor Herbert Harley Murray
Preceded by Daniel Joseph Greene
Succeeded by James Spearman Winter
Solicitor-General of Newfoundland
In office
1874–1878
Member of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland
In office
1874–1894
Member of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland
In office
1859–1869
Personal details
Born April 1, 1828
Buckyett, Littlehempston, Devon, England
Died June 24, 1908
St. John's, Newfoundland
Nationality Newfoundlander
Political party Conservative 1859-1885
Liberal 1885-1897
Spouse(s) Mary Lightbourne (m. 1862, d. 1868)
Catherine Anne Davies m. 1872
Children 3 sons and 3 daughters (including Harriet Louise Whiteway)
Occupation lawyer

Sir William Vallance Whiteway, QC KCMG (April 1, 1828 – June 24, 1908) was a politician and three time Premier of Newfoundland. Born in Littlehempston, Devon, England,[1] Whiteway emigrated to the island in 1843 and entered the law in 1852. In 1859 he was elected to the House of Assembly as a member of the Conservative Party of Newfoundland and became a supporter of Canadian confederation. He lost his seat in the 1869 election on confederation but returned in 1874 and served as Solicitor-General in the government of Sir Frederick Carter before becoming Premier in 1878 when he succeeded Carter as leader of the Conservatives. He was made a Queen's Counsel in 1865. While serving as Solicitor-General, Whiteway was one of the counsel representing the British Government before the Halifax Fisheries Commission, which adjudicated a dispute over north Atlantic fishing rights between the British Empire and the United States. The Commission gave an award of $5,500,000 to be paid by the United States to the British Government.[2] Newfoundland received $1,000,000 as its share of the award.

Whiteway's major policy ambition was the construction of the transinsular railway spanning the island which was begun in 1881 and which he believed would spur economic development of the colony. In 1885 his Conservative party was destroyed by sectarian riots at Harbour Grace which resulted in several Protestants leaving the Whiteway government in protest over its conciliatory attitude towards Catholics. Leading the dissenters was James Spearman Winter, Whiteway's Solicitor-General and grand master of Newfoundland's Orange Order.

The Orangemen joined with Robert Thorburn, an opponent of Whiteway's railway who felt that the colony should focus on the fishery, to form the Reform Party and win the 1885 election on a Protestant Rights platform.

In Opposition Whiteway founded a new Liberal Party of Newfoundland which won office in 1889 returning Whiteway as Premier on the issue of the railway. His government was forced to resign in 1894, however, due to allegations of electoral corruption in the previous year's election.

The Tories had argued that Whiteway's Liberals had promised jobs to Newfoundlanders who voted for him and filed petitions in the Supreme Court under the Corrupt Practices Act against fifteen Liberal members of the House alleging bribery and corruption. The members were tried and found guilty and their seats were declared vacant. On April 3, 1894, while the trials were still underway, Whiteway asked Governor Sir Herbert Murray to dissolve the House of Assembly for a new election. The governor refused and asked the Tory leader, Augustus F. Goodridge to form a government despite the fact that the Tories had only 12 seats to 21 for the Liberals. As Liberal seats were declared vacant due to guilty verdicts the standings in the House at the end of the process in August were 8 Conservatives, 9 Liberals and 19 vacancies. Whiteway himself had been found guilty, his seat declared vacant, and under the provisions of the law he was barred from seeking election to the House of Assembly or sitting in government.

The Governor enabled Goodridge to remain in office by continually proroguing the House in order to prevent the government's fall through a Motion of No Confidence.

By-elections were held throughout the fall in which the Liberals retained the seats they had been disbarred from, losing just two, while picking up two from the Conservatives in return. The last by-election was held on November 12, 1894, a full year after the general election. In the interim, 21 by-elections had been held, resulting in a virtual return to the status quo.

Goodridge remained as premier until December 12, 1894, two days after the failure of two banks crippled the economy. Daniel J. Greene, acting Liberal leader, was sworn in as premier the next day.

His government passed the Disabilities Removal Act, which allowed all those members who had been disqualified to run as candidates as well as sit in government. Greene then resigned so that Whiteway could be sworn in as premier for a third time. In the face of Newfoundland's financial crisis following the bank crash, Whiteway's government began a new round of negotiations with Canada to bring Newfoundland into confederation but the discussions were unsuccessful.

Whiteway's Liberals lost the 1897 election, resulting in his retirement from politics. He was succeeded as Liberal leader by Sir Robert Bond.

Family[edit]

The Hon. William Vallance Whiteway, Q.C., married as his second wife, October 22, 1872, Catherine Anne Davies, daughter of W. H. Davies, of Pictou, Nova Scotia. The couple, who resided at Riverview, St. John's, Newfoundland had three sons and three daughters. One daughter, Harriet Louise Whiteway, married, June 2, 1897, Peers Davidson, son of the Hon. Mr. Justice Davidson, Montreal.[3]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N547-JR8 : accessed 27 Dec 2013), Wm Valance Whiteway, 04 Sep 1828.
  2. ^ Record of the Proceedings of the Halifax Fisheries Commission, p. 53.
  3. ^ Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : (Toronto, 1903) [1]
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Carter
Premier of Newfoundland
1878–1885
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Thorburn
Preceded by
Sir Robert Thorburn
Premier of Newfoundland
1889–1894
Succeeded by
Augustus F. Goodridge
Preceded by
Daniel J. Greene
Premier of Newfoundland
1895–1897
Succeeded by
Sir James Spearman Winter