Hugh Carleton

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Hugh Carleton
b&w seated portrait photo of a bearded man
Hugh Francis Carleton in ca 1870s
2nd Chairman of Committees
In office
Preceded byFrederick Merriman
Succeeded byMaurice O'Rorke
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Bay of Islands
In office
1853 – 1870
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded byIn abeyance (title next held by Richard Hobbs)
Personal details
Born3 July 1810
Died14 July 1890(1890-07-14) (aged 80)
Spouse(s)Lydia Jane Williams, youngest daughter of the missionary Henry Williams
RelationsHenry Williams (father-in-law)

Hugh Francis Carleton (3 July 1810 – 14 July 1890) was New Zealand's first member of parliament.

Early life[edit]

Carleton was born in 1810. He was the son of Francis Carleton (1780–1870) and Charlotte Margaretta Molyneux-Montgomerie (d. 1874). Hugh Carleton, 1st Viscount Carleton was the brother of his grandfather, John Carleton. His family was living in Clare, County Tipperary and then Greenfield, County Cork, Ireland.[1] He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge.[2] He studied law in London, then art in Italy.[2]

Career as a journalist in New Zealand[edit]

He settled in the Bay of Islands in 1842.[1] On 30 November 1859, he married Lydia Jane Williams, youngest daughter of the missionary Henry Williams and Marianne Williams; they had no children.[3][4]

He became a journalist in Auckland and edited the New Zealander then established the Anglo-Maori Warder, which followed an editorial policy in opposition to Governor George Grey. In 1856 he became the editor of the Southern Cross.[2]

Career as a member of parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1853–1855 1st Bay of Islands Independent
1855–1860 2nd Bay of Islands Independent
1861–1866 3rd Bay of Islands Independent
1866–1870 4th Bay of Islands Independent

He was a member of New Zealand's first, second, third, and fourth Parliaments, representing the Bay of Islands electorate from 1853 to 1870,[3] when he was defeated.[5] Due to the system of staggering used in the first general election, Carleton was actually the first MP ever elected in New Zealand (though he was elected unopposed), hence he liked to be called the Father of the House.[6][7]

Carleton was the second Chairman of Committees, succeeding Frederick Merriman on 17 April 1856,[8] i.e. just after the opening of the first session of the 2nd Parliament.[9] He remained Chairman of Committees until he left Parliament in 1870.[8]

He had a strong interest in parliamentary procedure, and unsuccessfully lobbied for the position of Speaker. He is known for his unsuccessful campaign against the availability of alcoholic beverages at Bellamy's, the parliamentary restaurant. He was also a critic of the idea that all voting districts should contain the same number of voters, saying that this system gave "a preponderating control" of the political world to one specific class. He was described as "scholarly" by his allies and "pedantic" by his critics.


Carleton returned to England and spent the last ten years of his life there.[6] He died at Lewisham, Surrey, England, on 14 July 1890.[3]


  • Carleton, Hugh (1874) - The life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate. Auckland NZ. Online available from Early New Zealand Books (ENZB).


  1. ^ a b Mennell, Philip (1892). "Carleton, Hugh Francis" . The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co – via Wikisource.
  2. ^ a b c Fitzgerald, Caroline (2011). Te Wiremu: Henry Williams – Early Years in the North. New Zealand: Huia Publishers. p. xii. ISBN 978-1-86969-439-5.
  3. ^ a b c Silver, D. B. "Carleton, Hugh Francis". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Married". Daily Southern Cross. XVI (1277). 9 December 1859. p. 3. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 188.
  6. ^ a b Littlejohn, Charles Philip (23 April 2009) [First published in 1966]. "Carleton, Hugh Francis". In McLintock, A. H. (ed.). An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  7. ^ "The Southern Cross". Daily Southern Cross. XI (721). 26 May 1854. p. 2. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  8. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 251.
  9. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 139.


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
Political offices
Preceded by
Frederick Merriman
Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Maurice O'Rorke
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bay of Islands
In abeyance
Title next held by
Richard Hobbs