Old white man of the day

The Dilworth School website opens with: Quote:

In 1894, James Dilworth founded a boarding school for boys from good families with limited means. Over a century later, his remarkable legacy is still transforming boys? lives – beyond belief. Today, as then, Dilworth selects boys from good families who are experiencing financial or personal hardship, regardless of their race or ethnicity. They?re offered a life-changing scholarship, which includes free tuition, free boarding and free music and sports lessons (in fact, almost everything is funded by the Dilworth Trust). The effect? Thanks to the transformative power of an excellent education, we turn good boys into great men – who achieve things they might never have believed possible. End of quote.

So who was James Dilworth, apart from being our old white man of the day? Quote:

James Dilworth: Dilworth School

James Dilworth, […] was born probably at Donaghmore, County Tyrone, Ireland, on 15 August 1815. After a sound education at the nearby Royal Dungannon School, James worked first on his father’s farm and then in an Irish bank.

[…] In 1841 he sailed to New Zealand on the Planter. After a brief period exploring prospects at a number of settlements, this lanky young Irishman settled in Auckland as accountant to the New Zealand Banking Company in Princes Street.

Overdue bills ultimately forced the bank to wind up in 1845. This did not deter Dilworth. Equipped with capital (presumably from his family) he had already turned to land buying. Late in 1842 he had bought six acres of Parnell land on which he put a house, and in 1845 bought nearly 100 acres at Takapuna. In 1844 he had acquired more than 150 acres between Mt St John and Mt Hobson. Setting himself up as a farmer he continued to add to this estate, which became in time the most valuable of all the farms in this vicinity. He also acquired properties in the township and throughout the Auckland province. He was the astutest of land buyers.

In the 1860s Dilworth prospered. With the continued growth of Auckland’s population his suburban farm, three miles from town, shot up remarkably in value. He also had two strokes of luck: the outbreak of the New Zealand wars led to valuable commissariat contracts, and the government decision to run the tracks of the trunk railway through his estate put generous compensation money into his pocket. In 1882 his properties were estimated to be worth ?81,044. However, this figure does not take into account the 225,000 acres of recently bought Maori land in the upper Thames (Waihou) valley, or the Whaiti?Kuranui block, which Dilworth held in partnership with another Ulsterman, the impetuous Joseph Howard.

This speculation miscarried completely. The Whaiti?Kuranui proprietors, and a four-man syndicate which owned the adjoining Patetere block, in 1882 jointly sold their huge landed estate (just on 600,000 acres) to a London company, the New Zealand Thames Valley Land Company. The incorporation brought no ready cash to the pockets of the indebted New Zealand speculators, however, and, because of deepening rural depression, the company failed to sell its farm allotments. Ultimately the banks foreclosed. By the end of the 1880s Dilworth alone of the seven speculators was not insolvent. Even so, it is estimated that he lost ?40,000 or more because of this venture. As an investor in a number of Auckland companies, such as the Auckland Fibre Manufacturing Company, the Thames Valley and Rotorua Railway Company, and the New Zealand Frozen Meat and Storage Company, he suffered losses in other directions as well.

Little is known about Dilworth’s private life. He was reserved and left few personal records. […] He was not fond of long explanations. For one who could be gruff and stern he could also be very kind. Loyalty he esteemed: his friends remained true for life. He favoured Irish people as friends, whether they were Catholic or Protestant. […]

Dilworth has an impressive record of public service. He was for 27 years from its opening in 1847 a trustee of the Auckland Savings Bank. As an ardent Anglican […] he was a longstanding member of the Diocesan General Trust Board. He served on the Auckland Provincial Council for eight years. Public causes he supported included the kindergarten movement and the YMCA. Education was close to his heart, and he was a member of the Auckland University College council for the last four years of his life.

During his latter years Dilworth suffered from a neurological complaint, perhaps Parkinson’s disease. A visitor to the homestead recalled that he shook with ‘palsy’. He had a pony carriage made very low and his wife took him driving every day. After giving serious thought to the disposition of his wealth on his death, Dilworth made a will in which the bulk of the estate was bequeathed to the Dilworth Ulster Institute Trust. This was instructed to set up an institute (or school) which would take in and educate boys who were living in straitened circumstances. [He had no children of his own.]

James Dilworth died of peritonitis at Remuera on 23 December 1894. His estate was valued at ?150,000.[…] Dilworth’s monument surely is Dilworth School. In less than a century it grew to be one of New Zealand’s largest boarding schools. End of quote.

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