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Alfred Ludlam Bio


Alfred Ludlam (1810 – 8 November 1877) was a New Zealand politician and farmer from Wellington and the Hutt Valley. He was born in County Down, Ireland, and spent some time in the West Indies before coming to New Zealand. Little is known about Ludlam's activities in Ireland or the West Indies but a preserved specimen of the common iguana, collected by him on Tobago, is listed in an 1845 British Museum catalogue of lizards. Ludlam arrived at Wellington on 12 December 1840 from Gravesend in England. He was a cabin passenger aboard the 700-ton emigrant vessel, London, which sailed under the auspices of the New Zealand Company. Ludlam proved to be an energetic, intelligent and erudite settler who played an active role in Wellington's civic and cultural life. He would, for example, represent the electorate of Hutt in New Zealand's 1st Parliament, formed in 1854. He would also be a member of the 2nd Parliament and 4th Parliament. (Ludlam resigned his seat before the conclusion of both the 1st and 2nd Parliaments.) He also represented the Hutt on the Wellington Provincial Council in 1853–1856 and again in 1866–1870. During his parliamentary career, Ludlam gained a reputation for candour and honesty. These qualities restricted Ludlam's ability to be a successful political tactician but earned him the respect of colleagues and constituents. Indeed, he was nicknamed "Old Bricks" because of his solid, reliable character. Ludlam's political activities brought him into contact with his wife's kinsman - the baronet, Freemason and former Barbados sugar planter, Sir Samuel Osborne Gibbes, of Whangarei, on New Zealand's North Island. Sir Samuel (1803–1874) was a prominent figure in the community. Like Ludlam, he subscribed to high ethical standards in public life. Ludlam had a town section in Ghuznee St, Wellington, and owned a riverside farm at the Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, where he ran sheep and developed a reputation as an expert horticulturist. He purchased the farm from fellow pioneer Francis Molesworth in the mid-1840s, calling it "Newry" after his home town in Ireland. Ludlam built a house at "Newry" in 1848, replacing the original homestead. The farm also boasted an orchard, an extensive barn often used for public events (such as an official dinner for Governor Sir George Grey in 1851) and a windmill, erected by Molesworth in 1845. At "Newry" in 1868, Ludlam opened an impressive garden, "The Gums" (which was taken over as "McNabb's Gardens" after his death). Ludlam was also one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Wellington Botanic Garden in 1869, having introduced into parliament legislation to "establish and regulate" the garden. He also introduced the act of parliament which entrusted management of the Botanic Garden to the New Zealand Institute. His contribution to the garden's establishment is commemorated on the site by Ludlam Way. A year after the garden was established via a Crown Grant, Ludlam served as a pallbearer at the funeral in Wellington of the greatly respected Maori chief Honiana Te Puni. Ludlam had married on 1 October 1850 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. His wedding had been held in St Thomas' Anglican Church, in what is now the North Sydney local government area. His bride was Fanny Minto Gibbes (circa 1822/23–1877), the third daughter of Colonel John George Nathaniel Gibbes. London-born Colonel Gibbes (1787-1873) was the Collector of Customs for the Colony of New South Wales from 1834 to 1859 and served as a Crown nominee member on the maritime colony's Legislative Council. Fanny was living with her parents at "Wotonga" - now Admiralty House - on Sydney's Kirribilli Point at the time of her marriage; but she left Sydney after her wedding and went to live with Ludlam at "Newry". This move to Lower Hutt almost had fatal consequences for the couple, however, when an earthquake destroyed their house in February 1855 and they were almost crushed by a falling chimney. (A vivid description of the impact of the earthquake, written by Ludlam, is extant.) Fanny was a widely-read and cultivated woman who could speak several languages and was an amateur artist and musician of above-average competence. She also provided her husband with vital levels of inspiration and practical assistance in his horticultural projects. She was devoted to Ludlam. Although she was a dozen or so years his junior, she nonetheless predeceased him, succumbing to a "stoppage of the bowel" on 5 March 1877. She and Ludlam were staying in London when she fell fatally ill. Ludlam returned to New Zealand following Fanny's death, which had occurred at 2 Clifton Terrace in Kensington, according to her death certificate. He was badly shaken by the loss of his beloved spouse and died back home in New Zealand on 8 November 1877, aged 67. Ludlam was buried in Wellington's public cemetery. The final phase of his life had been devoted to charitable endeavours and his passing was sincerely mourned by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances from many walks of life. He was not survived by any children and, regrettably, his grave was destroyed by roadworks in the 20th Century. A photograph of Ludlam exists, however, in the library archives New Zealand Parliament, Wellington.

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