Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover ties together three British Colonies, India, Australia and New Zealand. It is addressed to The Hon able Edward W. Stafford, Auckland, New Zealand and was sent from India with the black four annas QV stamp tied by a ‘B/60’ cancel, a red boxed ‘INDIA PAID’ at lower left, manuscripts ‘Per Steam Ship’ and ‘Paid’, a double framed oval ‘MISSENT TO/ VICTORIA/ MELBOURNE’, a partial arrival ‘AUCKLAND/ MR 29/ (185)8, plus a manuscript (written vertically up the left hand border) ‘P.P.L.Stafford/ 20 Dec 1857/ over’ (Figures 1 & 1A).

The reverse has several markings and a manuscript: the same ‘B/60’ cancel on the front, a poor example of the red oval ‘MISSENT TO/ VICTORIA/ MELBOURNE’ plus a different illegible oval, and a manuscript ‘Letter from /P.P.L. Stafford/after relief of/Lucknow/Dec 1857/List of wounded/A. Alison’ (Figure 2).

The manuscript “after relief of Lucknow” and to “Alison” probably refers to the 2nd relief of Lucknow 12 November (when Sir Colin Campbell’s forces pitched camp at Alum Bargh) to 17 November 1857 (when the relieving force entered the defensive perimeter of the Residency at Lucknow). Archibald Alison (later Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Alison BT GCB, 1826-1907) while serving in Crimea was noticed by Sir Colin Campbell and Alison went to India as Campbell’s Military Secretary, but he was invalided home in 1858. Archibald Alison could have been the person alluded to in the manuscript.

The incorrect sending of the cover from India to Melbourne, when it was so clearly addressed to Auckland, New Zealand was interesting for the clear copy of the rare ‘Missent, Victoria, Melbourne’ greatly enhanced the value of the cover which had a reserve price of AUD 1,900. Stafford had a very tenuous relationship with Australia for he travelled in Australia in 1841 and 1842, and he imported sheep and horses from Australia. To date, no evidence has been found in the National Libraries of Australia or of New Zealand, nor any of the State Libraries, that he had a significant relationship with the Australian colonies, during his 3 terms as Premier/Prime Minister of New Zealand [both terms were used during his period] (Figure 3).

Edward William Stafford was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 23 April 1819, the eldest son of Berkeley Buckingham Smith Stafford, of Maine, County Louth, Ireland and his wife Anne Tytler. He grew up in the leisured sporting world of the Anglo-Irish gentry and in the intellectual environment of the Tytlers, which had 2 eminent historians in the family. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, travelled in Australia (1841-2) and on the suggestion of David Monro, he went to Nelson N.Z. in 1843 to join his Tytler cousins. He married Emily Charlotte, daughter of William Wakefield of Wellington in 1846, but Emily died in 1857 without issue and he later married Mary Bartley at Auckland, who had 3 daughters and 3 sons.

His first political position was as Nelson N.Z.’s first superintendent in 1853, and was noted for his free, secular and compulsory educational system which became the model for N.Z. His success at the provincial level marked him as the coming man of colonial politics. In the 1855 election he became the member of the House of Representatives for Nelson, a seat he held until 1868, when he became the member for Timaru. At the 1856 General Assembly he refused to form the first responsible ministry, but Henry Sewell’s ministry lasted only one month, and William Fox’s lasted a mere 13 days. On 2 June 1856, Stafford commenced his first term as Premier and this lasted until 12 July 1861, during which period he aimed at a comprehensive policy for the entire country.

He had a second term as Premier from 16 October 1865 to 28 June 1867. In the interim he built up his business and farming interests, importing deer, birds and horses and successfully racing horses. During this second term, for a time he did most of the work himself in roles as colonial secretary, treasurer and postmaster general. His last ministry formed on 10 September 1872 only lasted until the 4 October 1872, when he went down to defeat by 2 votes. He retired from N.Z. politics in February 1878 and returned to England receiving a KCMG on his arrival in 1879. He refused 2 colonial governorships including that of Queensland, and concentrated on his various financial businesses. He died in London on 14 February 1901.

I have not done justice either to the man, or to New Zealand and its native Maoris, but this review is a only a small fraction of a wonderful account on Edward William Stafford.

Categories: Postmarks