William Barnard Rhodes
(1807? - 11 February 1878
) was a New Zealand
businessman, pastoralist and politician. He was probably born in Lincolnshire
, but took up a career at sea at an early age. When he died in Wellington
, he was described as one of the richest people in the country.
He was a second officer on a merchant vessel by the age of nineteen, and by 1831, he had his own command. After visiting South America
, and India
, Rhodes ended up in Australia
, where he formed a partnership with a local company to acquire land in New Zealand. Rhodes established his base of operations in Wellington in 1840, and the extensive farming ventures he established became very profitable. Before long, he was able to buy out his partners in Sydney, and he became known as one of the richest people in Wellington. His business was originally based around exporting the produce from his farms, but later broadened to include imports, shipping, insurance, and finance. At the same time, he continued to expand his holdings, buying and selling huge amounts of land.
As a result of his prominence in the Wellington community, he eventually decided to enter local politics. He served on the Wellington Provincial Council, where he was a strong supporter of Isaac Featherston
He was then elected to the 1st New Zealand Parliament as the representative for the Wellington Country seat (covering Miramar, Makara, Porirua, the Kapiti Coast, and Horowhenua) from 1853 to 1855. From 1858 he represented the City of Wellington electorate in the 2nd Parliament and the 3rd Parliament, but failed to win re-election in 1866. He was later appointed to the Legislative Council.
Marriages and Daughter
William Barnard Rhodes married (1) Sarah King (died 1862), then (2) Sarah Ann Moorhouse a sister of William Sefton Moorhouse
. They lived in a large house, The Grange in Wadestown, Wellington. He had no children by either wife, but fathered a daughter by a Maori woman called Mary. William and Sarah Ann loved his natural daughter, Mary Ann Rhodes, and Sarah Ann adopted her. She was provided for in her grandfather’s will, but she challenged the will, losing in the New Zealand Supreme Court but went to the Privy Council and was awarded £750.000.
Mary Ann Rhodes married her stepmother’s younger brother Edward Moorhouse in Wellington in 1883. They moved to England and raised four children, including William Barnard Moorhouse. Hr added Rhodes to his name, shortly before he married in 1912 (as required by the will of his grandfather), and became William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse, the first airman to win the Victoria Cross.
The Rhodes brothers
William Barnard Rhodes was the oldest of 14 children. Three brothers followed him to New Zealand; Robert Heaton Rhodes
(1815-1884), George Rhodes (1816-1864) and Joseph Rhodes (1826-1905).
- George Rhodes of the Levels and his brothers by A.E. Woodhouse (1937, Whitcombe & Tombs, Auckland)