The Hon. William Mouat Bolt , M.L.C., was born in 1838 at Lerwick, in the Shetland Isles, and was educated at the parish school of Sandness. During his early years he assisted his father, the village blacksmith, in the smithy, and in the management of a small croft..
In 1855 Mr. Bolt - then seventeen years of age - went to Liverpool, where he shipped on a vessel chartered by the English Government for carrying troops to the Crimea. Mr. Bolt made two trips to Balaclava in this service, and subsequently passed about six years in voyages to New York, Melbourne, La Plata, Uruguay, Arkhangelsk, Russia and the Faroe Isle, coming to New Zealand in the ship “Nelson” in 1863.
Soon after settling in Dunedin, he was engaged by Messrs. Bing, Harris and Co. as a storeman, and continued in the firm's service for nearly thirty years,
when he was called by the Ballance Government to a seat in the Legislative Council.
Shortly after his arrival in the colony he allied himself with the Democratic Party. He took a prominent part in the Free thought movement, acting as secretary of the first association. For years he held this position, alternately with that of vice president.
Mr. Bolt was a member of the Dunedin Schools Committee for four years, part of which time he was chairman, and was at the same time actively engaged in connection with the first trade’s council, of which he became
In 1880 Mr. Bolt propounded a scheme of co-operative settlement—on which he has lectured in various parts of the Colony; and in his place in the Legislative Council, to which he was called in 1892, he introduced a series of resolution dealing with the subject, and these were endorsed by most of the labour associations in the Colony. Mr. Bolt has published essays on “The Social and Religious conditions of Europe a century ago,” “Land and Labour,” “Industrial Settlements,” and other subjects. His political ideal is the gradual advance of the people in their collective capacity; that is, by means of general industrial co-operation.
Mr. Bolt's father, Francis Bolt died in New Zealand at the advanced age of ninety-three. Mr. Bolt was married in 1861 to a daughter of Captain F. Lawson, of Lerwick, and has, surviving, five sons and three daughters.