Edward Jerningham Wakefield

Edward Jerningham Wakefield (25 June 1820 - 3 March 1879) was the only son of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. He was born in London, and educated in England and France.

In 1839 he accompanied his uncle, Colonel William Wakefield to New Zealand on the New Zealand Company ship "Tory". This expedition was an advance party seeking a suitable site to found a colony in the Cook Strait area.

Edward Jerningham had intended to stay in New Zealand for only a few months but he found the growth of the new colony so fascinating that it was four years before he returned to England in 1844. He quickly assembled his journals and they were published as "Adventures in New Zealand" in April 1845. The favourable picture he presented of the colony founded by the New Zealand Company helped the Company to avoid censure in the House of Commons.

For the next five years Edward Jerningham lived a dissipated life in London. Then, in 1850, faced with bankruptcy, he sailed for New Zealand once again, this time with the advance party for the Canterbury Settlement.

He entered politics, in New Zealand's 1st Parliament, as one of the two members for Christchurch Country for 1853-55; and was a member of the 5th Parliament for Christchurch City East for 1871-75. He moved to Wellington in 1855 to be near his sick father, and represented the City of Wellington in the Provincial Council from 1857 to 1861. However because of his increasing alcoholism his behaviour was very erratic and he was an embarrassment to his supporters. Gradually over the next few years he dissipated his wealth and substance and destroyed his health.

He died, penniless, in Ashburton, New Zealand in 1879.

References

[http://www.teara.govt.nz/1966/W/WakefieldEdwardJerningham/WakefieldEdwardJerningham/en Biography in 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand]


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