David Monro

For the Lower Canada politician, see David Monro (merchant). For the Scottish Homeric scholar, see David Binning Monro. For police officer, see David Monro (police officer).
Sir David Monro

portrait photo

Sir David Monro, ca 1873
2nd Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by Charles Clifford
Succeeded by Dillon Bell
Personal details
Born (1813-03-27)27 March 1813
Died 15 February 1877(1877-02-15) (aged 63)
New Zealand
Spouse(s) Dinah Secker
Relations Alexander Monro (father)
Alexander Monro (grandfather)
Alexander Monro (great-grandfather)
James Hector (son-in-law)
Children Charles Monro
Profession Doctor, politician

Sir David Monro (27 March 1813 15 February 1877) was a New Zealand politician. He served as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives from 1861 to 1870.

Early life

Monro was born in Edinburgh. His father was Alexander Monro, a lecturer at the Edinburgh Medical College.[1] Monro was from a long line of doctors, the Monro of Fyrish family that was a branch of clan Munro.[2] He graduated as a Doctor of Medicine from his father's college in 1835. After first studying for a time in Paris, Berlin and Vienna, Monro established a medical practice in Edinburgh. In 1841, however, Monro bought land in the planned settlement at Nelson, New Zealand. He arrived in Nelson the following year.[1]

Monro married Dinah Secker on 7 May 1845 and they had five sons and two daughters, including Charles Monro. His daughter, Maria Georgiana Monro, married the Scottish geologist, naturalist, and surgeon James Hector.[1]

Political career

In 1843, following the Wairau Affray, Monro was chosen (along with Alfred Domett, later to become Premier) to present the Nelson settlers' views to Willoughby Shortland, the acting Governor. Partly as a result of this attention, Monro was appointed to the Legislative Council of the New Munster Province in 1849, but resigned after a dispute with Governor George Grey.

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
18531855 1st Waimea Independent
18581860 2nd Waimea Independent
18611866 3rd Picton Independent
18661870 4th Cheviot Independent
1871 5th Motueka Independent
18721873 5th Waikouaiti Independent

In 1853, Monro was elected to the 1st New Zealand Parliament, representing the seat of Waimea. He was re-elected in the same seat for the 2nd Parliament in 1858. At the beginning of the 3rd Parliament, to which Monro had been elected as representative of Picton, he was selected as Speaker. He is generally regarded as having conducted this duty "with dignity", although his use of the Speaker's casting vote to unseat Premier William Fox in 1862 was controversial. At the 1866 general election, he successfully contested the Cheviot electorate.[3] Monro remained Speaker until 1870, when he announced that he would step down. William Fox, who was once again Premier, failed to move the traditional vote of thanks.[1]

Monro contested the Motueka seat in the 1871 elections, and was declared elected. A subsequent petition, however, overturned this result. The committee that made the ruling had a government majority, and some of its findings have been deemed "legally dubious" – many believe that the decision was taken for political reasons. Furthermore, a proposal to appoint Monro to the Legislative Council was blocked by Fox.[1] Monro nevertheless succeeded in re-entering Parliament through a 1872 by-election in Waikouaiti. After the Fox government had been defeated, Monro resigned in 1873.[3]

Life outside politics

Warwick House as seen from Brougham Street

For some time, Monro leased Warwick House, at the time known as Sunnyside. The house was built for Arthur Fell (father of Charles Fell) in 1854 by builder David Goodall.[4] When Fell returned to England, Monro leased the house.[5] Later, the house was bought by Nathaniel Edwards. The building at 64 Brougham Street in Nelson is one of the finest and largest examples of early Victorian Gothic Revivalism still remaining in New Zealand. At one time, the house had about 50 rooms.[4] The building was registered on 25 November 1982 as Category II with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, with registration number 1618.[6]

Monro was knighted in 1866. He died in Newstead, near Nelson, New Zealand,[7] on 15 February 1877.

The perennial herb endemic to New Zealand Myosotis monroi is named after him.

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to David Monro.
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Wright-St Clair, Rex. "Monro, David". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  2. "Obituary". The Evening Post. CXV (85). 11 April 1933. p. 11. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  3. 1 2 Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  4. 1 2 "Nelson's Dress Circle". The Prow. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  5. "Historic Homes No 6 "Sunnyside"". Nelson Photo News. 22 July 1967. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  6. "Warwick House". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  7. Hamilton 1894.


Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Clifford
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Dillon Bell
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Waimea
alongside William Cautley, William Travers
alongside William Travers, Fedor Kelling
Succeeded by
Charles Elliott
Preceded by
Charles Elliott
Succeeded by
Alfred Saunders
New constituency Member of Parliament for Picton
Succeeded by
Arthur Beauchamp
Preceded by
Frederick Weld
Member of Parliament for Cheviot
Succeeded by
Henry Anthony Ingles
Preceded by
Charles Parker
Member of Parliament for Motueka
Succeeded by
Charles Parker
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