BAILLIE, William Douglas Hall
Member of the Legislative Council.
William Douglas Hall Baillie was born on 22 February 1827 at Fredericton, New Brunswick, the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Baillie, a Waterloo veteran who was then Surveyor-General of the colony, and of Elizabeth, née Monckton Hall. He was educated at the Royal Military College, Woolwich, and in 1846 was commissioned in the 24th Foot Regiment, spending the next six years in India. Baillie served in the Punjab Campaigns of 1848–49, including the passage of the Chenab and the Battles of Sadoolapore and Chillianwallah, and Goojerat. In 1853 he returned to England where he was promoted to the rank of captain and acted as Commandant at Chatham and also at Chichester. In 1857 he resigned from the army and came to New Zealand in the Oriental. He took up a 5,000-acre run on the Wairau, but later sold this and settled at Para, near Picton. Baillie entered local politics and was elected to the Marlborough Provincial Council, representing Wairau Valley from 1860 to 1865 and Tuamarina from 1869 to 1876. On 28 August 1861 Baillie was elected Superintendent, his term being one of the most difficult in that province's turbulent political history. He was succeeded by Thomas Carter on 25 March 1863, but remained in the Council as Speaker and, later, as a member of the Provincial Executive and Deputy Superintendent. On 8 March 1861 Gore Browne called him to the Legislative Council, where he remained until his death 61 years later. From 1879 until 1902 Baillie was Chairman of Committees. He continued his interest in military affairs and acted as Colonel-Commandant of the Marlborough Militia and Volunteers. In 1881 he led the Marlborough and Nelson contingents in the expedition under Bryce against Te Whiti.
Although after about 1890 Baillie was troubled by increasing blindness, he attended meetings of the Legislative Council regularly until 1919. He retained his seat there until his death at Maoribank, Upper Hutt, on 24 February 1922. His term of 61 years of continuous membership of the Legislative Council remains unequalled in New Zealand. He was also the last of the life members to sit in the Council.
As a politician Baillie was an able and extremely diplomatic negotiator, but one who would never sacrifice principle for expediency. He was not motivated by any desire for office and, indeed, attained it accidentally. Once he had attained it, however, he demonstrated that he did not intend to use it for personal aggrandisement. It was unfortunate that, at the time of his death, there were no members in Parliament who could remember Baillie during his political heyday. On that occasion, those who knew him merely recorded that he was “an extremely kind and courteous man, although very forceful as a military leader”.
On 11 July 1854, at West Thurrock, England, Baillie married Hannah Maria Ann, daughter of John Greensill and cousin of Lord Roberts. They had three sons and one daughter.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Hart's Army List, 1856
- Evening Post, 25 Feb 1922 (Obit)
- Dominion, 27 Feb 1922 (Obit)
- New Zealand Times, 27 Feb 1922 (Obit).