William Ott

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William Ott
William Alexander Ott.jpg
William Ott
28th Mayor of Invercargill
In office
Preceded byCharles Steven Longuet
Succeeded byWilliam Benjamin Scandrett
Personal details
Born(1872-12-26)26 December 1872
Invercargill, New Zealand
Died4 January 1951(1951-01-04) (aged 78)
Resting placeEastern Cemetery, Invercargill
NationalityNew Zealand
  • Isabella Frew Ott (m. 1901, d. 1922)
  • Marjory Forsyth Ott (m. 1925; d. 1945)

William Alexander Ott (1872–1951) was Mayor of Invercargill 1910–1912. During his mayoralty, the Invercargill tram network was opened.


Opening of the Invercargill Tramways, with Mayor William Ott seated in the centre of the front row

Ott was born in Invercargill in 1872.[1] The Ott family came from the German village Dörnach, which is these days part of Pliezhausen in Tübingen. His uncle Johan Jacob Ott came to Dunedin in the early 1850s. In New Zealand, he was known as Jacob Ott. He was a shoemaker and came out employed by the Lutheran Mission under Johann Friedrich Heinrich Wohlers. Not a missionary himself, he later owned the Whitehouse Hotel in Waikiwi.[2]

Jacob Ott financed two of his siblings to come out to New Zealand; his brother Johan Georg Ott (known in New Zealand as George Ott) and his sister Maria Barbara Ott (who appears on the shipping list as Elizabeth).[3] They arrived on the Maori on 16 April 1857 in Dunedin from London. George Ott, a tailor, was the father of William Ott.[4][5][6] His father married Margaret Ott (née Murray) in 1862 at Dunedin.[7] William Ott had two siblings; a brother and a sister.[4]

William Ott trained as an accountant and became a fellow of the New Zealand Accountants' and Auditors' Association.[1]

He was elected onto the Invercargill Borough Council in 1900. In April 1910, he was elected unopposed to the Invercargill mayoralty.[8] A year later, he was re-elected unopposed.[9] Ott did not contest the 1912 mayoral election; it was won by William Benjamin Scandrett, who defeated Andrew Bain.[10]

During his mayoralty, he opened the electric Invercargill tram network, with the Prime Minister Joseph Ward in attendance.[11][12] It was the southernmost tram system in the world.[12][13] At the occasion, Ott was handed a cloak from the late paramount chief Topi Patuki. The Ott family returned the cloak to descendants of Patuki after six members of his family died in May 2006 when the fishing vessel Kotuku overturned in Foveaux Strait.[14][15]

Family and death[edit]

On 17 April 1901, he married Isabella Frew Ott (née Campbell) of Invercargill.[16] They had two sons and one daughter: William Frew Murray Ott (1903–1993; known as Murray), Alexander Bruce Ott (known as Bruce), and Marjory Isabel Ott (b. 1908). His wife died in 1922.[17] In 1925, he married Marjory Forsyth Ott (née Dobie).[18] His second wife died in 1945.[17]

His sister Margaret died in 1870 aged four months. His mother Margaret died in 1907 and his father George died in 1909. His oldest brother John George Ott died in 1954. William Ott died on 4 January 1951, aged 78 years. All are buried in the family grave in the Invercargill Eastern Cemetery.[17]


  1. ^ a b Cyclopedia Company Limited (1905). "Borough Of Invercargill". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Otago & Southland Provincial Districts. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  2. ^ Yates, Lynly Lessels (15 July 2011). "Junction Hotel – Grand Junction Hotel – Wallacetown Junction Hotel Lorneville Hotel and Whitehouse Hotel" (PDF). Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Shipping News". Otago Witness (281). 18 April 1857. p. 4. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b Cyclopedia Company Limited (1905). "Old Colonists". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Otago & Southland Provincial Districts. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  5. ^ Note that the year of arrival is wrong by 10 years in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, which is not too unusual for this vanity press
  6. ^ "Birth Search". Department for Internal Affairs. Retrieved 3 August 2012Enter registration number '1873/20588'
  7. ^ "Birth". Otago Witness (528). 11 January 1862. p. 5. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  8. ^ "In other centres". The Press. LXVI (13713). 21 April 1910. p. 8. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  9. ^ "In other centres". The Press. LXVII (14028). 27 April 1911. p. 8. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  10. ^ "From other Centres". Colonist. LIV (13400). 25 April 1912. p. 7. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Invercargill Tramways". The Press. LXVIII (14314). 27 March 1912. p. 2. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  12. ^ a b Fallow, Michael (5 September 2009). "Film of trams unearthed". The Southland Times. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Sounds Historical". Radio New Zealand. 27 November 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  14. ^ "Restoring Taonga". Te Karaka. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Lessons to be learnt from fatal capsize". stuff.co.nz. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  16. ^ "Marriages". Otago Witness (2458). 24 April 1901. p. 41. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  17. ^ a b c "Cemetery search". Invercargill City Council. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  18. ^ "OTT marriages New Zealand 1858–1930". ngairedith. Retrieved 3 August 2012.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Steven Longuet
Mayor of Invercargill
Succeeded by
William Benjamin Scandrett