Thomas King (New Zealand politician)

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Thomas King
Portrait of a man with a full beard.
Thomas King
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Grey and Bell
In office
New Zealand general election, 1853 – 1855
In office
Personal details
Born 21 November 1821
Died 28 April 1893 (aged 71)
New Plymouth
New Zealand
Resting place Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth
Spouse(s) Mary King (née Chilman)
Children Truby King
Newton King
Alma mater Oxford University
Profession Manager, soldier, politician

Thomas King (21 November 1821 – 28 April 1893) was a 19th-century New Zealand politician. He served in the first two Parliaments, and was otherwise active in New Plymouth. He was one of the first settlers, coming out on the first ship to New Plymouth in 1841.

Early life[edit]

Mary Chilman, wife of Thomas King

King was born in London on 21 November 1821.[1] He received his education at the City of London School and then at Oxford University.[2]

He came to New Zealand in March 1841 on the William Bryan.[3] He married Mary Chilman (born in London), the daughter of the New Plymouth settler Richard Chilman, in 1846.[2] She was the sister of Richard Chilman, the local secretary of the Plymouth Company. The Kings had seven children.[4]

Political career[edit]

King was a member of the Taranaki Provincial Council, serving as provincial treasurer.[5]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1853–55 1st Grey and Bell Independent
1860 2nd Grey and Bell Independent

King served in the 1st New Zealand Parliament for Grey and Bell and resigned on 22 June 1855.[6] He declared himself "tired of political life with its anxieties, cares, and responsibilities - with my severance from my home and my family". Financial worries may also have played a part - King was not by any means wealthy, and was consequently a notable champion of remuneration and expenses for MPs.

He entered Parliament again during its second term in the same electorate in a 28 May 1860 by-election.[6] The by-election resulted from the resignation of Charles Brown, whose militia service required his full attention.[7] King was the only candidate in the by-election, and was thus declared elected.[8]

William Cutfield King and Thomas King (no relation) contested the Grey and Bell electorate in the 1860 election. On nomination day, the contestants addressed the electors and at the end of the meeting, the Returning Officer requested a show of hands, which was declared to be in favour of Thomas King. Consequently, W. C. King requested an election, which was held on Tuesday, 27 November 1860. W. C. King and T. King received 93 and 34 votes, respectively. Thus, his namesake was elected,[9] but didn't attend Parliament, since he was killed in the First Taranaki War in February 1861 before the first session had started.[10]

Professional life[edit]

Upon arrival in New Zealand, King was originally a farmer and later became the manager of the Bank of New Zealand in New Plymouth for 16 years, from 1861 to 1878.[5] He chaired the New Plymouth Harbour Board for many years until his death.[3][11] He was the chairman of the New Plymouth Gas Company from its inception until his death.[12]


King died at 4 am on 28 April 1893 at his residence in Dawson Street, New Plymouth. He was buried at Te Henui Cemetery.[13]

He was survived by four sons, one daughter, and his wife. One of his sons, Truby King, was at the time of his death the Medical Superintendent of the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum.[14] Truby's older brother Newton became a successful businessman in New Plymouth.[5]

New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Grey and Bell
Succeeded by
Charles Brown
Preceded by
John Lewthwaite
Succeeded by
William Cutfield King


  1. ^ "Obituary". Taranaki Herald. XLII (9684). 28 April 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Blake-Palmer, Geoffrey (22 April 2009). "KING, Sir Frederic Truby, C.M.G.". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Cyclopedia Company Limited (1908). "Former Members Of The House Of Representatives". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts. Christchurch. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Long Reign of Newton King". Puke Ariki. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Watson, James (22 June 2007). "King, Newton 1855 - 1927". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
  7. ^ Foster, Bernard John (22 April 2009). "BROWN, Charles". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Grey and Bell election". Taranaki Herald. VIII (409). 2 June 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "The Elections". Taranaki Herald. IX (435). 1 December 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Wells, B. (1878). "CHAPTER XXII: THE TARANAKI WAR.". The History of Taranaki. p. 222. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "HARBOUR BOARD". Taranaki Herald. XLII (9688). 3 May 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "NEW PLYMOUTH GAS COMPANY". Taranaki Herald. XLII (9767). 27 July 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "Death". Taranaki Herald. XLII (9685). 29 April 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  14. ^ "Death of an old Settler". The Star (4630). 28 April 1893. p. 3. Retrieved 14 June 2010.