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Born in London, England, Hudson was the sixth child of Charles Hudson, an artist and stained-glass window designer. By the age of 14 he had built up a collection of British insects, and had published a paper in The Entomologist. In 1881 Hudson moved with his father to Nelson, New Zealand. He worked on a farm, and in 1883, aged 16, he began working at the post office in Wellington, where he eventually became chief clerk, retiring in 1918.
Hudson was a member of the 1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition. The main aim of the expedition was to extend the magnetic survey of New Zealand by investigating the Auckland and Campbell islands but botanical, biological and zoological surveys were also conducted. The voyage also resulted in rescue of the castaways of the shipwreck the Dundonald in the Auckland Islands.
Hudson is credited with proposing modern-day daylight saving time. His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects, and led him to value after-hours daylight. In 1895, he presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight-saving shift, and after considerable interest was expressed in Christchurch, he followed up in an 1898 paper. In 1933, Hudson was the first recipient (together with Ernest Rutherford) of the T. K. Sidey Medal, set up by the Royal Society of New Zealand from funds collected to commemorate the passing of the Summer-Time Act 1927.
Another Briton, William Willett championed the use of daylight saving time. It was made law there in 1916.
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