PETER NICHOLAS BROWN (BROUN)

1797 - 1846

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Brown
Peter Brown

 

 

Peter Broun (or Brown as he styled himself on arrival in W.A.) was the second son of Sir William Brown and his wife Annie. For the first 15 years of his time in W.A. he signed his name BROWN but after that he began to use the old family name spelling of BROUN. Other related branches of the family seem to have done the same thing. There is no clear explanation of why this happened.

Although born in Guernsey (the Channel Islands) Peter was brought up in Scotland and once he had completed his schooling he became a gentleman clerk. In 1825 he married Caroline Simpson. The couple were to have three sons and five daughters.

Brown had some influential friends and he was nominated to James Stirling by Sir George Murray and was appointed as Colonial Secretary for the new colony of Swan River.

Peter was granted land in the upper Swan area and named his property Bassendean after a family property in Scotland. (The name has been spelled Bassendene in some sources.)

 

For a time Brown was acting Treasurer until an official appointment was made in 1832. After this time he seems to have continued in the role of private banker. When bank notes became scarce he started issuing promissory notes and this brought with it accusations of fraud.

Will Shaw verbally assaulted Brown in the street and although Shaw was fined for the outburst, he went on to slander Brown to other colonists. Brown took Shaw to court and won the case easily.

Brown sold much of his property and stock in order to make good on the promissory notes and even gave up 25% of his pay until the debts were settled. As a result his good name remained intact.

He was a member of the first Legislative Council that also included James Stirling, F.C. Irwin, John Septimus Roe and W.H. Mackie. He was also clerk of the councils and in civil government he was second only to James Stirling.

Brown was essentially a public servant (to a large extend the founder of the public service in W.A.) and though his name appears numerous times in historic literature there is rarely any information about him or his duties. He appears to be one of the many people who did a lot of necessary and important work but none of it was glamorous or exciting and so he became just a foot note in most history books.

178 volumes of his official correspondence, that are now housed in the Battye Library, give some indication of the work load Broun was responsible for. With the arrival of Governor John Hutt and the formation of the Legislative Council at least some of Broun's work load was diminished.

After 17 years of service, Peter died in Fremantle on November 5th 1846. His wife left the colony for England aboard the Hindoo and was fortunate to be rescued when the ship she was on caught fire and burned to the water line. Sadly all Peter's papers and journals were lost in the fire. Peter's wife and family got no pension after his years of selfless devotion to the government.

 

Chronology

 

1797 - Born August 17th.

1825 - Married Caroline Simpson.

1828 - Appointed Secretary of Government for the Swan River Colony in December.

1842 - Elected to the first Perth Town Trust.

1846 - Died November 5th.

 

Links to more information:

 

Broun, Peter Nicholas (1797-1846)

Peter Broun

 

 

 

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