Frank Rolleston

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Frank Rolleston
Frank Rolleston.jpg
Frank Rolleston
26th Minister of Justice
In office
18 January 1926 – 26 November 1928
Prime Minister Gordon Coates
Preceded by James Parr
Succeeded by William Downie Stewart
15th Minister of Defence
In office
18 January 1926 – 26 November 1928
Prime Minister Gordon Coates
Preceded by Heaton Rhodes
Succeeded by William Downie Stewart
14th Attorney-General
In office
24 May 1926 – 26 November 1928
Preceded by William Downie Stewart
Succeeded by Thomas Sidey
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Timaru
In office
1922 – 1928
Preceded by James Craigie
Succeeded by Clyde Carr
Personal details
Born (1873-05-11)11 May 1873
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died 8 September 1946(1946-09-08) (aged 73)
Timaru, New Zealand
Spouse(s) Mary Rolleston (née Blair)
Relations Joseph Brittan (grandfather)
William Rolleston (father)
Mary Rolleston (mother)
John Rolleston (brother)
Humphry Rolleston (grandson)

Francis "Frank" Joseph Rolleston (11 May 1873 – 8 September 1946) was a New Zealand politician of the Reform Party.

Early life[edit]

Mary and William Rolleston and their children, at Kapunatiki; Frank Rolleston sitting in the front row in the middle

Rolleston was born in Christchurch in 1873,[1] the son of the last Superintendent of the Canterbury Province, William Rolleston[2] and his wife Mary Rolleston.[3][4] At the time of his birth, the family was living at Linwood House.[5] His grandfather was Joseph Brittan (1805–1867), who was married to Sophia Brittan (died 1877).[6]

From 1880 to 1884, the Rolleston family lived in Wellington.[4] William Rolleston held various ministerial posts in ministries led by John Hall (1879–1882), Frederick Whitaker (1882–1883) and Harry Atkinson (1883–1884)[7] and their house in Molesworth Street, on the site that is these days occupied by Saint Paul's Cathedral, gave easy access to the Parliament Buildings.[8] With the defeat of the Atkinson Ministry, William Rolleston lost his ministerial income and due to the effects of the depression of the 1880s, the family moved to William Rolleston's 800 acres (3.2 km2) farm Kapunatiki at the south bank of the Rangitata River near its mouth in 1884.[9]

Frank Rolleston was educated at Christ's College, where along with his older three brothers he was a boarder.[10] At one point, Frank Rolleston and the one year older Hector suffered the humiliation of having their school trousers lengthened by some ill-matching material.[11] Later, his older brother Lance (born 1869) was sent to England to finish his medical degree. Frank Rolleston, considered by his father the most able of his boys, was to go to Oxford University, but tight finances prevented this, and Lance Rolleston could only complete his degree with the financial help of his uncle Robert (his father's oldest brother).[12] Instead, Frank Rolleston attended the University of Canterbury, from where he graduated with a BA and LLB.[1]

On 3 March 1908, Rolleston married Mary Winifred Blair in Timaru.[1]

Political career[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1922–1925 21st Timaru Reform
1925–1928 22nd Timaru Reform

Rolleston first stood for Parliament in the 1905 election in the Timaru electorate. Whilst he "put up an excellent fight" against William Hall-Jones,[13] the incumbent Hall-Jones obtained 3479 votes versus 2432 votes for Rolleston.[14]

He represented the Timaru electorate from 1922, when he defeated, with a majority of 282 votes, Percy Vinnell of the Labour Party.[15] Rolleston and Vinnell contested the 1925 election, when Rolleston obtained a much increased majority of 2486 votes.[16] Rolleston lost the 1928 election against Rev Clyde Carr of the Labour Party, who would go on and represent the electorate until 1962.[17][18]

Rolleston was a Cabinet minister, being the Minister of Defence, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General from 1926 to 1928 in the Reform Government of New Zealand.[19]

His brother John was also elected to Parliament in 1922 (representing Waitomo) and was also defeated in 1928.[20][21]

Frank Rolleston was Mayor of Timaru from 1921 to 1923.[1]

Awards and death[edit]

Rolleston was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935, and the King George VI Coronation Medal in 1937.[1] He died on 8 September 1946 in Timaru.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "HON FRANCIS JOSEPH ROLLESTON" (PDF). Timaru District Council. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Gardner, W. J. "Rolleston, William - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Rolleston 1971, p. 63.
  4. ^ a b Starky, Suzanne. "Rolleston, Elizabeth Mary - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Linwood House". NZHPT. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Rolleston 1971, pp. 74–75.
  7. ^ Scholefield 1950, pp. 37–38.
  8. ^ Rolleston 1971, p. 80.
  9. ^ Rolleston 1971, p. 98.
  10. ^ Rolleston 1971, pp. 100–101.
  11. ^ Rolleston 1971, p. 109.
  12. ^ Rolleston 1971, p. 107.
  13. ^ "The coming elections". Wairarapa Daily Times. XXIX (8281). 24 October 1905. p. 7. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "The following are the results of the electoral poll for other districts". Bruce Herald. XXXXI (96). 7 December 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "South Island Seats". Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle. XVIII (909). 12 December 1922. p. 2. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "Amended Returns". The Evening Post. CX (118). 14 November 1925. p. 8. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "Amended Polling Returns". The Evening Post. CVI (112). 17 November 1928. p. 10. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 99.
  19. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 47.
  20. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 136.
  21. ^ Rolleston 1971, p. 131.


Political offices
Preceded by
James Parr
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
William Downie Stewart
Preceded by
Heaton Rhodes
Minister of Defence
Preceded by
William Downie Stewart
Succeeded by
Thomas Sidey
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
James Craigie
Member of Parliament for Timaru
Succeeded by
Clyde Carr