New Zealand general election, 1853

1853 general election
New Zealand
14 July – 1 October 1853

All 37 seats in the House of Representatives of New Zealand
  First party
Party Independent
Last election 37 seats
Seats won 37
Seat change Increase 37
Popular vote N/A
Percentage N/A
Swing N/A

The 1853 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 1st term. It was the first national election ever held in New Zealand, although Parliament did not yet have full authority to govern the colony, which was part of the British Empire at that time.


Election poster in support of William Barnard Rhodes, standing for Wellington Country

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, established a bicameral New Zealand Parliament, with the lower house (the House of Representatives) being elected by popular vote. Votes were to be cast under a simple FPP system, and the secret ballot had not yet been introduced.

To qualify as a voter, one needed to be male, to be a British subject, to be at least 21 years old, to own a certain value of land, and to not be serving a criminal sentence. One of the candidates elected (on 27 August, for Christchurch Country) was a landowner, but at 20 years and 7 months was not yet 21: he was James Stuart-Wortley.

At the time of the 1853 elections, there were no political parties in New Zealand. As such, all candidates were independents.

The election

In the 1853 elections, election day was different in each seat. The first seat to be elected was Bay of Islands on 14 July, and the final election day was on 1 October.[1] Hugh Carleton (Bay of Islands) was the first MP ever elected in New Zealand (though he was elected unopposed), so he liked to be called the Father of the House.[2]

There were 5,849 people registered to vote.[1] The number of electoral districts was 24, and some districts elected multiple MPs. The total number of seats was 37.[1] Some parts of the colony were not part of any district, and did not have representation in Parliament.[3]


Member Electorate Province Election date
Moorhouse, WilliamWilliam Moorhouse Akaroa Canterbury 24 August[4]
Bartley, ThomasThomas Bartley AucklandCity of Auckland Auckland 11 August[5]
O'Brien, LoughlinLoughlin O'Brien AucklandCity of Auckland Auckland 11 August[6]
O'Neill, JamesJames O'Neill AucklandCity of Auckland Auckland 11 August[7]
Merriman, FrederickFrederick Merriman Suburbs of Auckland Auckland 10 August[8]
Porter, WilliamWilliam Porter Suburbs of Auckland Auckland 10 August[9]
Carleton, HughHugh Carleton Bay of Islands Auckland 14 July[10]
Stuart-Wortley, JamesJames Stuart-Wortley Christchurch Country Canterbury 27 August[11]
Wakefield, JerninghamJerningham Wakefield Christchurch Country Canterbury 27 August[12]
Sewell, HenryHenry Sewell ChristchurchTown of Christchurch Canterbury 20 August[13]
Cargill, JohnJohn Cargill Dunedin Country Otago 1 October[10]
Cutten, WilliamWilliam Cutten Dunedin Country Otago 1 October[14]
Macandrew, JamesJames Macandrew DunedinTown of Dunedin Otago 27 September[15]
King, ThomasThomas King Grey and Bell New Plymouth 27 August[16]
Ludlam, AlfredAlfred Ludlam Hutt Wellington 18 August[17]
Wakefield, Edward GibbonEdward Gibbon Wakefield Hutt Wellington 19 August[12]
FitzGerald, JamesJames FitzGerald LytteltonTown of Lyttelton Canterbury 17 August[18]
Picard, AlfredAlfred Picard Motueka and Massacre Bay Nelson 18 August[19]
Mackay, JamesJames Mackay NelsonTown of Nelson Nelson 25 July[20]
Travers, WilliamWilliam Travers NelsonTown of Nelson Nelson 25 July[21]
Gledhill, FrancisFrancis Gledhill New PlymouthTown of New Plymouth New Plymouth 26 August[22]
Forsaith, ThomasThomas Forsaith Northern Division Auckland 23 August[23]
Lee, WalterWalter Lee Northern Division Auckland 23 August[17]
Crompton, WilliamWilliam Crompton Omata New Plymouth 26 August[14]
Bacot, JohnJohn Bacot Pensioner Settlements Auckland 13 August[24]
Greenwood, JosephJoseph Greenwood Pensioner Settlements Auckland 13 August[25]
Taylor, CharlesCharles Taylor Southern Division Auckland 23 August[26]
Gray, JohnJohn Gray Southern Division Auckland 23 August[25]
Cautley, WilliamWilliam Cautley Waimea Nelson 16 August[27]
Monro, DavidDavid Monro Waimea Nelson 16 August[4]
Revans, SamuelSamuel Revans Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay Wellington 12 August[28]
Weld, FrederickFrederick Weld Wairau Nelson 2 August[29]
Featherston, IsaacIsaac Featherston Wanganui and Rangitikei Wellington 12 August[30]
Clifford, CharlesCharles Clifford WellingtonCity of Wellington Wellington 15 August[27]
Hart, RobertRobert Hart WellingtonCity of Wellington Wellington 15 August[31]
Kelham, JamesJames Kelham WellingtonCity of Wellington Wellington 15 August[16]
Rhodes, WilliamWilliam Rhodes Wellington Country Wellington 18 August[32]



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