WAKEFIELD, Edward Gibbon (1796-1862)

Scope and Content

Papers of and relating to Edward Gibbon Wakefield, 1825-1929, comprising letters of the Wakefield family, namely Frances Wakefield (second wife of Edward Gibbon Wakefield's father), concerning Directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 1825; [Felix Wakefield] (Edward Gibbon Wakefield's brother) concerning his niece's journey to India, 1835; Edward Gibbon Wakefield to his sister Catherine Torlesse concerning the report of the House of Commons Committee investigating affairs in New Zealand, 1844; biographical extract about Edward Gibbon Wakefield, undated; press cuttings of book reviews relating to Edward Gibbon Wakefield, 1929.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born, London, 1796; educated at Westminster School, 1808-1810, Edinburgh high school, 1810-1812; employed by William Hill, envoy to the court of Turin, 1814; made a runaway match with an heiress, Eliza Susan Pattle, 1816; secretary to the under-secretary of the legation, Turin; abducted a Cheshire heiress, 1826 and was jailed for three years; wrote a series of works on the theory of colonisation whilst in prison, including A Letter from Sydney, 1829; views supported by Robert Stephen Rintoul, who published Wakefield's opinions on colonial questions in the Spectator , and Lieutenant-colonel Robert Torrens; National Colonization Society founded, 1830; South Australian Association established to found a colony on Wakefield's principles, 1834; gave evidence to parliamentary committees on colonial affairs, 1836, 1837, 1840, 1844; formed the New Zealand Association, 1837, which attempted to establish a colony in New Zealand; colony in South Australia formed and constituted, 1838, although Wakefield was not directly involved; accompanied Lord Durham to Canada as an unofficial advisor after the suspension of the Canadian constitution, 1838, and influential in drawing up Durham's Report on the Affairs of British North America ; New Zealand Land Company formed, and founded a colony in New Zealand, 1839; managed the affairs of the New Zealand Company in London; secret adviser to Sir Charles Theophilus Metcalfe on Canadian politics, 1843; resigned from the New Zealand Company, 1849; helped found Church of England settlement at Canterbury, New Zealand, 1849; formed the Colonial Reform Society with Charles Bowyer Adderley, 1850; lived in New Zealand, 1853-1862; advisor to the governor, 1853-1854; died, 1862.
Publications: Sketch of a Proposal for Colonising Australasia (J F Dove, London, 1829); A Letter from Sydney (London, 1829); A Statement of the principles and objects of a proposed National Society, for the cure and prevention of Pauperism, by means of systematic Colonization (London, 1830); Facts relating to the Punishment of Death in the Metropolis (London, 1831); Swing Unmasked, or the causes of Rural Incendiarism (London, 1831); The Hangman and the Judge (London, 1833); England and America (London, 1833); Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Adam Smith edited by E G Wakefield (London, 1835-9); The British Colonization of New Zealand; being an account of the principles, objects and plans of the New Zealand Association (J W Parker, London, 1837); Popular Politics (London, 1837); A View of Sir Charles Metcalfe's Government of Canada (London, 1844); `Sir Charles Metcalfe in Canada,' in Fisher's Colonial Magazine (1844); A View of the Art of Colonization (London, 1849).


The papers are arranged chronologically

Access Information

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: archives@qmul.ac.uk . For more information about the Archives see the website: library.qmul.ac.uk/archives

Acquisition Information

Acquired by Westfield College.

Other Finding Aids

Archivist's Note

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1995); Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives; British Library Public Catalogue On-line. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist.


The Collected works of Edward Gibbon Wakefield Edited with an introduction by M F Lloyd Prichard (Collins, Glasgow & London, 1968); The Founders of Canterbury edited by Edward Jerningham Wakefield and John Robert Godley (Christchurch, 1868); Edward Gibbon Wakefield: the colonization of South Australia and New Zealand Richard CB Garnett (1898); Edward Gibbon Wakefield: the man himself Irma O' Connor (Selwyn & Blount, London, [1929]); Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Builder of the British Commonwealth Paul Bloomfield (Longmans, London, 1961); Edward Gibbon Wakefield; a political reappraisal John Norman (Fairfield, Conn New Frontiers of Fairfield University, 1963); A great view of things. Edward Gibbon Wakefield June Phillip (Melbourne, Nelson, [1971]); Edward Gibbon Wakefield in New Zealand. His political career, 1853-4 Peter A Stuart (Wellington [NZ], Price Milburn, for Victoria University of Wellington, 1971); Edward Gibbon Wakefield. a reconsideration (The Friends of the Turnbull Library, 1997).