Moses Ayrton

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Moses Ayrton
Moses Ayrton.jpg
3rd Secretary of the Labour Party
In office
LeaderHarry Holland
Preceded byMichael Joseph Savage
Succeeded byWalter Nash
Personal details
Born15 July 1878
Yeadon, Yorkshire, England
Died3 October 1950
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLabour Party
Other political
Social Democratic
Spouse(s)Ethel Firth (m. 1900 d. 1939)
Grace Pinfold (m. 1948)

Moses Ayrton (15 July 1878 – 3 October 1950) was a New Zealand Methodist minister and socialist.


Early life[edit]

He was born in Yeadon, Yorkshire, England on 15 July 1878.[1] His parents were Moses Airton, who was a woolen waste dealer, and his wife Martha Chappell. Ayrton worked through his youth as a grocer's assistant and also became a Wesleyan Methodist lay reader. He also became politically minded and joined the Independent Labour Party which reflected his Christian beliefs, compassion and social conscience.[1] When he was 18 he was ordained as a member of the Methodist clergy. On 6 November 1900 married his first wife Ethel Firth at Rawdon, Yorkshire.[1] Ayrton emigrated to New Zealand in 1908 and from 1910 to 1919 served as a missionary in North Taranaki, Tauranga, Greymouth, Runanga, Denniston. During his time in Tauranga Ethel and their three children arrived in New Zealand. The Ayrtons had two additional children in New Zealand.[1]

Political involvement[edit]

Whilst in Runanga Ayrton was elected to the Runanga Borough Council and the Grey Hospital Board as a Labour member.[2] During this period he was also a nominator of Paddy Webb's for candidacy in the Grey by-election, 1913 and was to serve as Webb's campaign chairman.[1] Ayrton was a member of the local Social Democratic Party executive and would represent it at national conferences. He would later serve as the party's vice president in from 1915 to 1916.[2]

He was an unsuccessful Labour Party candidate in the Palmerston electorate in the 1919 election where he came runner up.[3] He later served as the Labour Party's secretary from 1920 until 1922.[4]

Later life and death[edit]

Ayrton retired from the church in 1945, but still continued to perform some ministerial duties. His first wife Ethel died on 23 October 1939 and Ayrton married Grace Pinfold (née Darling), at Wellington on 10 June 1948. After some years of poor health he died at Wellington on 3 October 1950. He wasa survived by second wife Grace and his children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Brown, Colin. "Moses Ayrton". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b Gustafson 1980, p. 153.
  3. ^ Hislop, J. (1921). The General Election, 1919. National Library. pp. 1–6. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  4. ^ Paul 1946, p. 192.


Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael Joseph Savage
Secretary of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Walter Nash
Preceded by
Frederick Cooke
Vice-President of the Social Democratic Party
Party disestablished