William Cornwallis Symonds

Captain William Cornwallis Symonds (1810 23 November 1841) was a British Army officer who was prominent in the early colonisation of New Zealand.

Symonds was born in 1810. He was the eldest son of William Symonds, Surveyor of the Navy, who was a prominent member of the New Zealand Association. Symonds Jr. was commissioned into the 38th Foot. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1832, transferred to the 74th Foot in 1835, and was promoted Captain in 1838.[1]

He came to New Zealand in the early 1830s as an agent of the Waitemata and Manukau Land Company and was instrumental in the founding of Auckland and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. He was one of Governor William Hobson's closest and most effective officials and was one of the first six Police Magistrates in New Zealand. He was Chief Magistrate of Auckland and in 1841 was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General of New Zealand, and laid out Auckland under Felton Mathew. He laid out the town of Cornwallis opposite the Manukau Heads, but it never got developed.[1]

During 1841, Symonds accompanied the naturalist Dieffenbach[2] in his survey of the North Island. On 3 May 1841, Symonds was appointed to the original Legislative Council. He died in a boating accident on 23 November 1841. His death was deeply regretted by Hobson.[1]

Symonds Street and Symonds Street Cemetery in Auckland are named after him.[3] Symonds Street in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga is named after his brother Jermyn.


  1. 1 2 3 Scholefield, Guy, ed. (1940). A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography : M–Addenda (PDF). II. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs. p. 356. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  2. McLean, Denis. "Dieffenbach, Johann Karl Ernst". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  3. Roughan, John (25 August 2010). "Auckland: Gentleman settler". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
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