Canterbury’s Third Superintendent Elected – 5th March 1863

When the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was established, New Zealand was split up into six provinces. Each province was its own sub-government and these were built around the six original settlements. The Canterbury Province sat between the Hurunui and Waitaki River and stretched right over to the West Coast.

At the head was a Superintendent and below him, councillors. To be able to become a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council, you had to be over 21 years old and own land worth over £50.

On 5 March 1863, Samuel Bealey began his term as Canterbury’s Superintendent, due to the resignation of William Sefton Moorhouse.

Bealey was born in Lancashire, England in 1821. He was a late bloomer as it wasn’t until he was 30 years old that he finally got himself a degree. Along with his brother John, he purchased 1000 acres from the Canterbury Association and then set sail, arriving in Lyttelton in December 1851.

In 1853, Samuel was elected to be a part of the very first Canterbury Provincial Council.
In 1863, due to financial woes, William Sefton Moorhouse resigned from his position as Superintendent. To protect the Superintendent position from rival James Edward Fitzgerald, Moorhouse searched his own ranks for a temporary replacement. His eye turned to Samuel Bealey – he was steady, safe and just the right man for the job.

In truth, Bealey was very uncomfortable in his new role. He spoke to Moorhouse more than once about wanting to resign – which Moorhouse supported. But when Bealey withdrew his resignation, his party who were firm Moorhouse supporters, all resigned. He had to work fast to put together a new team.

Referred to as “…a shopkeeper in mind and manner…” Samuel’s new team eventually outshone him and he faded away into the background. He became the invisible Superintendent. So maybe it is not surprising that Samuel packed up his life and family then moved back to England for good around 1866/67.

Thus the Superintendent seat returned to William Sefton Moorhouse.

For a more in depth look at Samuel Bealey, please check out the attached link:

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