Wakefield, Edward Gibbon
b. 1796-03-20
d. 1862-05-16
Edward Gibbon Wakefield was a British author and politician who developed extensive policies for British colonization, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.1 He was also heavily involved in the production of Lord Durham's Report on the Affairs of British North America.2 Wakefield's policies proposed that land acquired through colonization be sold at a sufficient price to fund the emigration of Britons of diverse social backgrounds to British colonies in order to create more successful colonies.3 The policies were originally intended for use in Australia and New Zealand, but Wakefield later determined that the same principle could be applied in the Canadian context and appended the proposed policy to Durham's Report.
In the despatches, Wakefield's policies are mentioned as a possible remedy to an ongoing issue of property speculation in the colony, although it is acknowledged that such a policy would only be effective if it were to be adopted in both the British North American colonies and the United States, where land speculation was common.4
Wakefield was born in 1796 in London, England.5 He had an unsettled youth and was expelled from three schools.6 As an adult, he was imprisoned for three years after he abducted a young heiress and persuaded her to marry him.7 During his imprisonment, he took a great interest in colonial policy and conducted extensive research on the topic.8 Lord Durham took an interest in the theories Wakefield developed in prison and invited him as an unofficial advisor during his appointment to Canada to resolve the conflict between Upper and Lower Canada.9
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Durham, Lord

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New Zealand