Robert Stout

Biography

Robert Stout

The careers of Sir Robert Stout and Sir Julius Vogel were so closely intertwined that Stout’s governments are usually referred to as Stout-Vogel ministries. Both men started their public lives in Otago and they followed similar policies.

This flinty Shetlander’s memories of crofter evictions gave him a lifelong hatred of landlordism and a preference for state leasehold, a key New Zealand Liberal policy. Like his capable wife, Anna, he supported votes for women.

In 1893, the dying Liberal premier, John Ballance, wanted Stout to succeed him, but Stout was temporarily out of Parliament. That gave Richard John Seddon time to sew up the leadership before Stout returned in a by-election.

Stout left politics in 1898, embittered and disillusioned. His greatest contributions were made in the law and education. He was chief justice from 1899 to 1926 and served on the senate of the University of New Zealand from 1884 to 1930, playing a leading role in founding Victoria University College.

By Gavin McLean

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