William Earnshaw (1852 – 29 December 1931) was a New Zealand Member of Parliament for two Dunedin electorates representing the Liberal Party. He later served on the Legislative Council. He was one of the first labour representatives in Parliament.
'Plain Bill' Earnshaw was born in Manchester, England. He received his education in his home town and showed considerable ability at school. He trained as an all-round mechanic after his schooling. Aged 21, he left for the United States, where he spent two years. He visited Australia and came to New Zealand in 1878. He first settled in Christchurch and worked at the Addington Railway Workshops. He married Gwendoline Marie Payne in Christchurch on 21 July 1880. He moved to Dunedin in 1881, where he was a brass-founder at Anderson and Morrisons.
|Parliament of New Zealand|
|1893–1896||12th||City of Dunedin||Liberal|
In 1890, Earnshaw contested the Peninsula electorate against the incumbent, William Larnach. Earnshaw's victory made him a national figure, one of the new breed of working-class MPs. Earnshaw represented the Peninsula electorate until the end of the term in 1893, and then the City of Dunedin electorate (1893–1896) in the House of Representatives. A strong prohibitionist, Earnshaw became one of Sir Robert Stout's few consistent supporters in Parliament after 1893. This put him off-side with Premier Richard Seddon.
Life outside parliament
After his 1899 defeat, Earnshaw moved to Gillespies Beach near Fox Glacier, where he was involved in dredging. He later took employment with the Wellington Harbour Board prior to his appointment to the Legislative Council.
- Hamer 1988, pp. 186, 362.
- Scholefield 1940, p. 225.
- "Obituary". The Evening Post CXII (155). 29 December 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- Thomson 1998, p. 144.
- Wilson 1985, p. 194.
- "Otago". Auckland Star. XXVII (305). 23 December 1896. p. 6. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "The General Election, 1899". Wellington: Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives. 19 June 1900. p. 2. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
- Wilson 1985, p. 152.
- "Details". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- Hamer, David (1988), The New Zealand Liberals: the years of power, 1891–1912, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Auckland University Press, ISBN 1-86940-014-3
- Thomson, Jane (ed.) (1998), Southern people: a dictionary of Otago Southland biography, Dunedin, [N.Z.]: Longacre Press in association with the Dunedin City Council, ISBN 1-877135-11-9
- Scholefield, Guy, ed. (1940). A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography : A–L (PDF) I. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.