Robert Chisenhall Hamerton

Robert Chisenhall Hamerton was one of the founders of the Victoria Bowling Club, along with Walter L Meek, David Thomson Stuart, Boulton Merlin Molineaux, John MacKay, and Frederick Townsend.

Robert Hamerton was clearly a driving force behind the establishment of bowling in Wellington, if his photo with the founding directors of the Kelburn Club is added to what we know of him as a founder of the Victoria Bowling Club.

Robert Chisenhall Hamerton, front row centre, with the original directors of the Kelburn Bowling Club in 1903.[Wellington City Archives]

Robert Chisenhall Hamerton, front row centre, with the original directors of the Kelburn Bowling Club in 1903. [Wellington City Archives]

He was born in Lancashire and in 1854 his family embarked for New Zealand on board the “Cashmere”. They arrived in New Plymouth and Robert’s father, a solicitor, bought land for farming in the Taranaki district. During the “native troubles” in Taranaki Hamerton held commissions as an ensign, lieutenant then captain in the militia and volunteers and was in several engagements and awarded the New Zealand War medal. At the Waireka fight he was wounded in the knee. After the war he went into a merchant’s office for a few months, then entered the Civil Service as a clerk in the sub-Treasury. He was soon promoted and for some time held the positions of Registrar of Deeds, Joint Stock Companies, Births, Deaths and Marriages and Deputy Commissioner of Stamps at New Plymouth. On the passing of the Land Transfer Act in 1870, the government decided that only solicitors should hold positions as District Land Registrars but because Hamerton had not been admitted to the bar he transferred to the position of Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court in Wellington in 1871.
He was also appointed Secretary for Stamps and Controller of Legacy Duties. As well as performing the duties attached to these important positions, he studied for the law and was admitted a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court in 1878. In 1880 he was appointed Public Trustee and continued as Secretary for Stamps until 1881. He held the Public Trustee position until 1891, when he retired on a pension secured by special act of Parliament.

Hamerton took great interest in Freemasonry, and was one who “bore the burden and heat of the day” in connection with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. He was a prominent member of St Mark’s Church and was a churchwarden and vestryman for many years. He largely assisted in the procurement of the organ erected in the church in 1879 and worked with others to promote its renovation and enlargement in the 1890s. He was a senior partner in the legal firm of Hamerton and Andrew.