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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


RICHMOND, Mathew, C.B.


Superintendent of the Southern District of New Zealand, member of the Legislative Council.

Mathew Richmond was born in 1801 at Salisbury, England, the son of Major Richmond, of Kilmarnock, Scotland, an officer of the Royal Scots' Greys. He entered the Royal Military College in 1814 and, in 1817, went to South Africa where he enlisted in the Cape Corps. In 1818 he transferred to the 11th Regiment of Foot, gaining his captaincy in 1826. He served with Canning in Portugal (1828–29), and was stationed in the lonian Isles (1829–38) where he acquired a reputation as a just and competent administrator. In 1839 Richmond went to New Brunswick as Deputy Judge Advocate-General for the 96th Regiment and, later in the same year, accompanied this regiment to New South Wales.

In June 1840 Richmond was appointed one of the Commissioners to examine land claims in New Zealand. He was in Wellington at the time of the Wairau Affray and succeeded in maintaining order in the difficult days following. On 12 July 1843 he was appointed Chief Police Magistrate for the Southern District and, on 1 February 1844, he became Superintendent. The Southern District of New Zealand comprised all settlements lying to the south of a line drawn due eastwards from Cape Egmont, and Richmond was chief executive and judicial officer over this territory. As he was responsible only to the Governor and to the Colonial Secretary in Auckland, the southern settlers bitterly criticised the appointment. When Lieutenant-Governor Eyre arrived to assume the Government of New Munster in August 1847, Richmond became Resident Magistrate at Nelson – a post he held until 1853. On 11 June 1853, following Dillon's sudden death, Richmond became Commissioner of Crown Lands in Nelson, which position he held until 1858.

On 23 June 1853 Sir George Grey appointed Richmond to the Legislative Council where he played an active part, being Chairman of Committees from 1865 to 1879. Major Richmond was popular with all who knew him, and was awarded the C.B. in 1860 for his military services. He died at Nelson on 5 March 1887.

In 1830 Richmond married Mary Smith, by whom he had a son and a daughter. His son, Andrew James (1832–80), represented Nelson and Colling-wood in the House of Representatives from 1861–80.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Superintendent of the Southern District Files (MSS), National Archives
  • Crown Colony Government in New Zealand, McLintock, A. H. (1958)
  • Evening Post, 7 Mar 1887 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.