Melville Lyons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Melville Lyons in 1930

Melville Edwin Lyons OBE (27 February 1889 – 7 May 1955), sometimes called Tiny, was briefly a Reform Party Member of Parliament in New Zealand until his election was declared void. A journalist by trade, he became involved in local politics in Christchurch after having served in WWI. He was Deputy Mayor of Christchurch for six years under mayor Ernest Andrews.

Early life[edit]

Lyons was born on 27 February 1889 (note that his birth certificated appears under the date 27 March 1889[1]) in Masterton.[2] His parents were Thomas Adian Lyons, an overseer at a sheep station and later a shepherd, and Mary Lyons (née McIver). His parents had married on 6 March 1880 in Timaru and siblings of Melville Lyons were Joseph James (born 18 May 1881 in Burkes Pass), Esther (born 1883 in Opiki near Timaru), Ethel Mary and Seafield. The family moved to the Masterton area in about 1884. After the last child was born, his father returned to Australia and nothing was heard of him again.[3]

Melville Lyons attended the District High School in Feilding.[4] Before WWI, Lyons was an agricultural editor. He worked for the Dannevirke Advocate and then for the Christchurch Sun.[5] He left for Egypt via Sydney from Wellington on 13 July 1916 as a trooper to enter the war, part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the 15th Reinforcements Veterinary Corps.[6] At 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m),[2] he was a tall man and "well-fleshed" (at age 26, he weighed 217 pounds (98 kg)) and had been given the ironic nickname 'Tiny'.[7]

Political career[edit]

Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1925–1926 22nd Lyttelton Reform
Samoan high chiefs Tupua Tamasese Meaʻole (fifth from left) and Malietoa Tanumafili II (second from right) welcomed to Christchurch in 1945 by Mayor Ernest Andrews (fourth from left) and Deputy-Mayor Melville Lyons (right)

He was elected in the Lyttelton electorate in the 1925 general election.[8] The original count resulted in a tie of 4,900 votes to Lyons and James McCombs each. The returning officer gave his casting vote to Lyons and declared him elected. A recount was demanded, and on 3 December 1925, an amended result of 4890 votes for Lyons and 4884 votes for McCombs was determined, with the differences in the counts explained by counting informal votes in a different way.[9] Lyons' election was declared void on 13 March 1926, and the previous holder, McCombs, was restored as the holder of the electorate.[8] The 22nd Parliament had its first sitting on 16 June 1926, hence Lyons had not been sworn in before his election was declared void.[10]

Lyons next stood for Parliament in the 1935 Lyttelton by-election, caused by the death of Elizabeth McCombs who had succeeded her husband James.[11] The by-election was contested by four candidates, and Lyons, representing the United/Reform Coalition, came a distant second against Terry McCombs, the son of Elizabeth McCombs.[12]


Lyttelton by-election, 1935[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Terry McCombs 5,437 58.65
United/Reform Melville Lyons 3,685 39.75
Independent Labour Edward Hills 103 1.11
Independent G.S. Hamilton 46 0.50
Majority 1752 18.9 -6.75
Turnout 9,271 67.43[14]

Lyons was chosen as the candidate for the National Party in the 1938 election for the Mid-Canterbury electorate. His nomination was overturned, however, and Arthur Grigg was put forward instead, with Lyons withdrawing.[15][16] Grigg was eventually successful in winning the electorate against the incumbent, Labour's Horace Herring.[17][18]

The death of Ted Howard on 26 April 1939[19] caused the 3 June 1939 Christchurch South by-election. Since Howard's first election in the 1919 general election, Christchurch South was held by the Labour Party.[16] At the last general election in 1938, Howard had polled 9,885 votes versus 3,890 votes for Gladstone Ward, the son of former Prime Minister Joseph Ward.[16][20] The electorate was thus regarded as a safe seat for Labour.[16]

On nomination day, two candidates were put forward: Robert Macfarlane for the Labour Party and Lyons for the National Party.[21] Macfarlane had been Mayor of Christchurch since the previous year.[22] Macfarlane and Lyons received 7,900 and 4,005 votes, respectively, a majority of 3,895 votes (32.72%) for Macfarlane.[23] An editorial by The Evening Post argued that Lyons never had any hope of winning the election.[24]

Lyons was selected by the National Party to contest the Kaiapoi electorate in the 1941 general election,[25] but the general election was delayed until 1943 owing to WWII.[26] When the 1943 general election did happen, W. H. Overton was the National Party candidate in the Kaiapoi electorate, coming second against the incumbent Morgan Williams.[27][28]


Christchurch South by-election, 1939
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Robert Macfarlane 7,900 66.36
National Melville Lyons 4,005 33.64
Majority 3,895 32.72 -10.80
Turnout 11,905 76.36[29]

Early in 1943, Lyons was nominated by the National Party for the Christchurch East by-election held on 6 February caused by the death of Tim Armstrong.[30] The by-election in the Christchurch East electorate, a Labour Party stronghold, was contested by five candidates, including representatives from the Labour Party and the Labour breakaway party Democratic Labour Party.[31] The election was won by the Labour candidate, Mabel Howard (the daughter of Ted Howard), and started her long parliamentary career.[32] Lyons came third in the election, beaten by both Labour candidates.[33]


Christchurch East by-election, 1943[34][35]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Mabel Howard 4,559 47.27 -28.47
Democratic Labour Horace Herring 2,578 26.73
National Melville Lyons 2,371 24.59 +0.33
Independent Lincoln Efford 114 1.18
Independent Owen McKee 22 0.23
Majority 1,981 20.54 -30.95
Registered electors 14,835
Turnout 9,644 65.01 -26.42

Local body[edit]

Lyons was first elected Councillor for Christchurch City Council in 1927 and served for a total of 20 years until 1947.[36] He was Deputy-Mayor of Christchurch from 1941 to 1947, serving under mayor Ernest Andrews.[37]

In the 1953 Coronation Honours Lyons was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to local government and agriculture.[38]

Later life[edit]

Lyons was secretary of the Canterbury A&P Association.[3] He died on 7 May 1955.[39]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Birth Search". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 11 November 2011. To find his birth certificate, enter "Lyons" and "Melville" and "27/03/1889" as both the 'from' and 'to' date 
  2. ^ a b "New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Records : Melville Edwin LYONS" (PDF). Archives New Zealand. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Brady, Mary. "South Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand". Rootsweb. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "The School". Feilding Star. XXIII (1456). 7 June 1902. p. 2. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Personal Matters". The Evening Post. XCI (96). 24 April 1916. p. 8. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Melville Edwin Lyons". Auckland Museum. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Richard Bedward Owen (1873–1948)" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 49. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 213.
  9. ^ "Lyttelton Recount". The Evening Post. CX (135). 4 December 1925. p. 9. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 141.
  11. ^ "Lyttelton Seat". Evening Post. CXIX (144). 20 June 1935. p. 14. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "Labour Wins". The Evening Post. CXX (22). 25 July 1935. p. 10. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Labour Wins". The Evening Post. CXX (22). 25 July 1935. p. 10. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Issue of Writ". The Evening Post. CXIX (149). 26 June 1935. p. 10. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "General Election Mid-Canterbury Seat". The Evening Post. CXXVI (8). 9 July 1938. p. 13. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c d "The By-Election". The Evening Post. CXXVII (128). 2 June 1939. p. 8. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "The Mid-Canterbury Seat". Ellesmere Guardian. LIX (86). 28 October 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 110.
  19. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 115.
  20. ^ "General Election". The Evening Post. CXXVI (98). 22 October 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "City By-Election". The Evening Post. CXXVII (118). 22 May 1939. p. 11. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  22. ^ "Chairmen and mayors". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  23. ^ "Official Count". The Evening Post. CXXVII (134). 9 June 1939. p. 6. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "A Straw Vote". Evening Post. CXXVII (130). 5 June 1939. p. 8. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Kaiapoi Seat". The Evening Post. CXXXII (1). 1 July 1941. p. 9. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  26. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 91.
  27. ^ "Kaiapoi". Evening Post. CXXXVI (76). 27 September 1943. p. 6. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  28. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 148.
  29. ^ "By-Election Result". Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette. 7 June 1939. p. 5. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "Split vote". The Evening Post. CXXXV (14). 18 January 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  31. ^ "Five candidates". The Evening Post. CXXXV (18). 22 January 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  32. ^ McAloon, Jim. "Howard, Mabel Bowden 1894–1972". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  33. ^ "By-Election Totals". The Evening Post. CXXXV (40). 17 February 1943. p. 6. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  34. ^ "Miss Howard's Lead". The Evening Post. CXXXV (32). 8 February 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  35. ^ "By-Election Totals". The Evening Post. CXXXV (40). 17 February 1943. p. 6. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "Councillors of the City of Christchurch 1862 to current". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  37. ^ "Chairmen and mayors". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  38. ^ "No. 39866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 May 1953. pp. 3003–3006. 
  39. ^ "Death Search". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 11 November 2011. To find his death certificate, enter "Lyons" and "Melville" and "07/05/1955" as both the 'from' and 'to' date 

References[edit]

  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. 
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
James McCombs
Member of Parliament for Lyttelton
1925–1926
Succeeded by
James McCombs