Samuel Duncan Parnell

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Samuel Duncan Parnell

Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: London, England
Death: December 17, 1890 (80)
Wellington, New Zealand
Place of Burial: Wellington, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of James Parnell and Joan Parnell
Husband of Mary Ann Parnell and Sarah Sophia Brunger

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Immediate Family

About Samuel Duncan Parnell


For some weeks past the working men of Wellington have anxiously kept their eyes upon the humble cottage in Cambridge terrace where lay dying the man whom they regard as the originator of their much-prized eight hours system — Samuel Duncan Parnell, one of Wellington's pioneers. The end came last night, at about 2am, when the veteran, who had been reduced to a very feeble condition, passed quietly away. Mr. Parnell was born in London, and resided in Wellington for 51 years. He was brought up to the carpentering and joinery trade in the great British metropolis, and the agitation in connection with the Reform BUI took place just after he bad finished his apprenticeship. He and his ahopmatea naturally evinced a warm interest in the movement, but he has stated that he could not bring himself to enter into the consideration of the subject of the great reform like the rest of his fellow • workmen. He had other thoughts. “Why," I pondered, '* should men have to work such long hours as they do, and why is it that there cannot be a fair disposal of the hours of a day, so as to give a man a little of the daylight to attend to the many duties that he must naturally have to do for himself and those dependent upon him? Why should men legislate for up to work all these hours P" The first trades union that the world over saw was inaugurated during the agitation, the promoters being the carpenters and joiners of London. Mr. Parnell was the only one in the shop where he worked who would not join. Every means were adopted to get him to become a member, but he steadfastly refused, his argument being that the men ought to band themselves together for the purpose of getting the hours of labor shortened. He left the Shop and commenced business in the same line on his own account, and being a careful man, he saved enough money to bring him out to New Zealand. He was one of the first purchasers from the New Zealand Company of the right to select land in the colony. The sum of .£126 was paid for an intermediate passage for himself and his wife, and for the right to select 100 acres of country land and one town acre. Mr. Parnell and his wife left London by the barque Duke of Roxburgh on the 17th of September, 1839, and landed at Petone on 7th of February, 1840 One of the masts was Sprung soon after sailing, and she had to go into Plymouth for repairs, and owing to this delay both the Oriental and Aurora, which left London after the Duke of Roxburgh, obtained such a start that both were able to reach Wellington first. The arrangement made before Railing from England was that the Duke of Roxburgh should call in at Port Hardy, D'Urville Island, for the purpose of ascertaining where the passengers should be landed, the vessel's destination not having been fixed before she left London. As the barque was cruising up and down looking for Port Hardy, a fierce south-east gale sprang up, and the captain was washed overboard and drowned. In standing off and on, the vessel got very close to Stephens' Island, and every moment the passengers and crew expected she would go ashore. As they were in this perilous position, some whalers came off with instructions that the vessel was to go on to Port Nicholson, and she accordingly resumed her journey, landing the passengers on 7th February. Mr. Parnell located himself at a spot between the present township of Petone and Lower Hutt. Amongst those who came out by the vessel was the late Mr. Hunter, who had been commissioned to act as agent in the colony for Messrs. Willis and Co., shipowners. Mr. Hunter was accompanied by his wife and a large family, and he and Mr. Parnell struck up an acquaintance on board. Mr. Hunter settled down towards the Korokoro Pah, and asked Mr. Parnell to build him a store. Mr. Parnell said he would undertake the work on condition that the hours should only be eight per day. Mr. Hunter at first ridiculed the idea of men only working eight out of the 24 hours. but he afterwards gave in, and agreed that the hands employed in putting up the store should only work eight hours a day. Mr. Hunter also objected to give more than 5s a day, and as no carpenters could be obtained at that price, Mr. Parnell decided that he would have to go on with the work himself. Great difficulty was experienced in getting the timber from Lowry Bay. which was then wooded down to the beach, and it was only after several attempts that the raft was got to Petone. One morning Mr. Hunter complained that Mr. Parnell had started work a little after 8 o'clock. Mr. Parnell pointed out that he lived a long away off, and said that whenever he arrived late he; would always make up the lost time, Mr. Hunter objected that Mr. Parnell was setting - the men about the work a bad example, and Mr. Parnell thereupon knocked off work at the store to be finished with what labor was available. An attempt was afterwards made to break up the 8 hours rule, but the sympathy of all the working men about the settlement was enlisted and the system has remained iv force throughout the colony ever since. Mr. Parnell retired from active work a number of years ago, and passed his decline. He was born on the 19th of February, 1810. He was twice married His second wife was Mrs. who died two and a half years ago. A son of hers- Mr. James Brunger-resides at Makara Mr. Parnell left no children. On Demonstration Day he was presented with an address, as founder of the Eight Hour' Movement, and was able to mix amongst the 1000’s of people who visited Newtown on that occasion. A few days subsequently, however, he was obliged to take to his bed, and although he received the greatest care and attention from Doctors and a number of friends, he gradually sank and passed away night, death being due to general decay. The deceased was a quiet unobtrusive man and was well liked by all who knew him. He was held in great respect by the laboring classes, and his demise, although not unexpected, will be greatly regretted, A meeting of members of trades bodies, and all other persons interested in according him a public funeral, is to be held in the Exchange Buildings this evening, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements. The newly-installed Mayor of Wellington (Mr. A. W. Brown) is to take the chair.

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Samuel Duncan Parnell's Timeline

February 19, 1810
London, England
December 17, 1890
Age 80
Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand