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Webb, Henry Richard (1829–1901)

Widespread regret will be felt at the news of the death of Mr Henry Richard Webb. F.R.M.S., which occurred last night. Connected as Mr Webb has been with a large number of the public bodies in Canterbury, his name will be indissolubly twined with the history of the province, especially with its educational progress.

Mr Webb was born in Sydney, on May 18th, 1829, his parents having arrived in New South Wales during the some year. He was educated at Sydney College, and it was intended that he should go to Oxford, but the death of his father, Mr Henry Webb, prevented this from being carried out. When between twelve and thirteen years of age, Mr H. R. Webb left school, and took a position in a business office in Sydney, and before reaching his majority he was in business for himself. Subsequently he was one of the firm of Messrs Ferguson, Webb, and Co., of Sydney, doing trading business with this colony. In 1850 or 1851 Mr Webb visited Auckland, where he married his first wife, a daughter of Mr Samuel Vaile, well known in connection with the Vaile system of railway management. Mr Webb and his wife returned to Sydney, where Mrs Webb died. In 1858 he came to Lyttelton, where, for several years he was manager of Peacock's wharf, until it was bought by Mr Peter Cunningham. About 1880 he took over the management of the Permanent Investment Association of Canterbury, which position he filled for ten or eleven years. After severing his connection with that institution he retired, but, until his death, continued to take an active part in numerous public bodies and societies. He was a member of the Provincial Council of Canterbury, was Chairman of Committees of that assembly, and was the last Provincial Secretary, just prior to the abolition of the provinces. From 1873 to 1875 he represented Lyttelton in the House of Representatives, but on standing again was defeated by Mr H. P. Murray-Aynsley, who secured the seat by a majority of one, and had been his opponent at the previous election. Mr Webb attended the Lyttelton Regatta, in the capacity of Judge or other official every year, with the exception of one, since 1868, and whilst resident in Lyttelton was Chairman of the School Committee. He took great interest in the Lyttleton water supply, and was amongst those instrumental in bringing the scheme to a successful issue. He was also a director of the Lyttelton Gas Company, and of the Alliance Assurance Company.

Mr Webb always manifested a deep interest in educational affairs, and was for many years a member of the North Canterbury Board of Education, of which body he was for a time Chairman. He was also one of the School Commissioners for eighteen years, and was for a time Chairman. He was also one of the original members of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College, and was elected Chairman on April 30th, 1894, and held that position at the time of his death. In the work of the College he took the deepest interest, and was conversant with all its work. At the last meeting of the Board it was his painful duty to put a motion regretting the death of another original member of the Board, the late Hon. H. B. Gresson, ex-judge of the Supreme Court. As Chairman he conducted the business of the Board in a highly satisfactory manner, and to his grasp of details was due, in no small measure, the business-like manner in which the work of the Board was conducted.

Mr Webb was also an ardent churchman and was a member of the Sydney Synod prior to coming to New Zealand. He was a member of the Christchurch Synod, also of the Diocesan Standing Committee, and a churchwarden of St. John's. In Sydney he was an active member of the Agricultural, Pastoral, and Horticultural Society, and he was President of the Christchurch Horticultural Society. Whilst in Sydney, he belonged to the No. 1 Battery, a corps somewhat similar in composition to the Honourable Artillery of London. Mr Webb leaves a widow and seven sons and two daughters to mourn their loss. One son, Mr W. J. Webb, is married, and one daughter is the wife of Mr R. E. McDougall, of this city. Mr Webb's second wife was a daughter of the late Mr J. J. Peacock, and a sister of the Hon. J. T. Peacock. On Friday last Mr Webb was one of the interested spectators of the display made by the Imperial troops, and fatigued himself somewhat in witnessing the review in the Park. On Saturday he attended the funeral of the late Dean Jacobs, and further fatigued himself. For some time Mr Webb has been suffering from acute gastritis, and on Sunday morning his condition altered for the worse, and medical assistance was called in. His condition grew worse, and last night he passed away.

Original publication

  • Press (Christchurch, NZ), 12 February 1901, p 6

Citation details

'Webb, Henry Richard (1829–1901)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/webb-henry-richard-28320/text35984, accessed 20 July 2019.

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