Father of journalism in New Zealand.
A new biography of Revans, Samuel appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Samuel Revans was born at Kennington, Middlesex, England, in 1808, the son of John Revans, a surgeon, and Eleanor, née Kenzie. He joined H. S. Chapman in Canada, where in 1833 they founded the Montreal Daily Advertiser, a journal which soon attained notoriety for its polemics in the cause of self-government. When Chapman returned to England in 1834, the paper closed down. Revans, however, remained in Canada until 1837 when journalistic indiscretions in connection with Papineau's revolt necessitated his hasty departure. He returned to England where he became involved in Chartist disturbances, and was associated with J. A. Roebuck, who introduced him to the New Zealand Company. In 1839 he secured appointment as editor of the New Zealand Gazette, bringing out the first issue from his office, 16 Little Pulteney Street, London, on 21 August 1839. Arriving in Port Nicholson in the Adelaide on 7 March 1840, he established his press in a prefabricated house on Petone beach (Britannia), where he issued the second number of the New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator on 18 April 1840. Soon afterwards the paper moved to Wellington, where, in 1843, Revans sold his interest to William Fox. In the same year he published the first edition of Wellington Almanac, one of the colony's first reference books.
Severing his journalistic connections in 1847, Revans became an importer, but later was associated with William Mein Smith in a large Wairarapa sheep run. In 1851, in partnership with N. W. Levin and John Jury, he took an experimental cargo of timber and potatoes to California. The leases on his Wairarapa property expired in 1872 and were sold to G. M. Waterhouse (q.v.). He and Smith became interested in sawmilling but failed in this owing to difficulties of transportation. Revans took an active part in colonial politics, being secretary to the Port Nicholson Settlers' Council (1840) until this was dissolved by order of Governor Hobson. He represented Wairarapa – Hawke's Bay in the first Parliament (1853–55) and Hutt in the second (1856–58). He also represented the former district in Wellington Provincial Council (1854–57), serving twice (1854 and 1857) on Featherston's Executive.
A militant radical in his youth, Revans possessed a fiery temper which permeated all he wrote. His dependence upon the New Zealand Company made him support its cause with a vigour which led an angry opposition to found in 1845 the Wellington Independent as a protest. His farming and other interests did not prove any more profitable than that of journalism, and he died a bachelor in comparative obscurity at Greytown on 14 July 1888.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Newspapers in New Zealand, Scholefield, G. H. (1958)
- Crown Colony Government in New Zealand, McLintock, A. H. (1958)
- Evening Post, 16 July 1888 (Obit)
- New Zealand Times, 17 July 1888 (Obit).