Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!
Need an article for your Trestleboard/Newsletter see our Use Policy

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

Richard John Seddon is Born

Today in Masonic History Richard John Seddon is born in 1845.

Richard John Seddon was an English born New Zealand politician.

Seddon was born on June 22nd, 1845 in Eccelston, Lancashire, England. Both of his parents were in education, his father a schoolmaster and his mother a teacher. Despite this fact, Seddon was a poor student and was often in trouble and labeled a disruption. He was removed from school at the age of 12. At that time he was sent to apprentice at a foundry. He later worked at Vauxhall foundry in Liverpool where he attained a Board of Trade certificate as a mechanical engineer.

At the age of 16, Seddon decided to emigrate to Australia. Later he continued on to New Zealand, after returning briefly to Australia to marry. After marrying he and his wife returned to New Zealand. During his earlier time in New Zealand, Seddon worked in the gold fields. On his return to New Zealand Seddon and his wife setup first a general store, eventually selling alcohol and turning part of their establishment into a pub.

In 1874, Seddon was elected to the council of Westland Province. In 1876 he lost his position with the abolition of the provinces which was a shift in how New Zealand was governed.

In 1879, Seddon was elected to parliament. He remained until he passed away. Seddon was a member of the liberal party and was considered a man of the people, always fighting for the "common" man and against the elitists. To his enemies, including those in his own party, he was seen as an anti-intellectual and was described by at least one colleague as "partially civilized."

Despite the problems that Seddon had in his own party he was put in a position to run the government after the sitting Premier passed away. His tenure as Premier was supposed to be short lived, Seddon was accused of manipulating the situation to maintain power in the Liberal party and therefore the Government. During his time as Premier he opposed Women's Suffrage, in part because the cause was run by temperance movement which sought prohibition in New Zealand. As a former pub owner, and a champion of common man, he did not want to see prohibition come to New Zealand.

In 1898, Seddon had his Old-Age Pensions Act passed. This was the basis of the welfare state in New Zealand and was expanded upon by later politicians.

On June 10th, 1906, while returning from a trip, Seddon passed away.

Seddon was a member of Pacific Lodge in Hokitika. In 1898 he served as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand for two years.