Lowther Broad


Lowther Broad was District Court Judge for Nelson and died in Nelson on 16 August 1892, aged 52 years.  He was the fourth son of the Rev John Broad, Baptist minister of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.

Lowther was born in Kensington, Middlesex, England on 24th December 1840. He married Isabella Mary Bunny on 3rd October 1867. Isabella was the daughter of Henry Bunny, deputy superintendent and provincial secretary for the Province of Wellington and member of the New Zealand Parliament for Wairarapa. They went on to have seven sons and two daughters.

Little has been confirmed of Lowther's early education, or of his time in Australia,there being little to support the claims that he was born in the Isle of Bute, that he received part of his early education in France or that he spent much of his time on the goldfield at Bendigo, Victoria Australia.3  However, it is confirmed that he was appointed goldfields' warden and Resident Magistrate in December 1863, initially in Wakatipu and then at Arrow and Nokomai fields. He departed Arrowtown in July 1868 for a similar position in the Shortland/Thames goldfields. 

Lowther Broad 6752

Lowther Broad. Nelson Provincial Museum Isaacs & Clark Collection 6752.

There Lowther resigned from the Justice Department and worked as a sharebroker and mining agent. He was elected as a member for Thames to the Auckland Provincial Government in 1870.4   He did not take his seat, however, moving instead back to Nelson as Resident Magistrate, Sheriff, Registration and Returning Officer, Registrar of Poisons in Nelson and sub-Commissioner for Government Insurance, as well as Warden for the Wangapeka goldfield.

His appointment was noted somewhat caustically by the Nelson Examiner, as he displaced J. Sharp and Thomas Brunner, who were both regarded highly in the community.5   In 1875 he was appointed District Court Judge.  From late 1886 to mid-1891, his circuit included all of the District Courts in the so-called Middle Island (now South Island), only excluding Christchurch and Dunedin. 

From May 1891 his circuit was limited to the Nelson district, there being just one other Judge with him for the whole of the South Island.  His service was ended by his sudden death at his home "Ronaki" on 16 August 1892.6 

Lowther Broad12967

Lowther Broad and family. Nelson Provincial Museum W E Brown Collection 12967, July 1876

From his arrival in Nelson, Broad was a leading member of the Catholic community, serving on the Boards of St Mary's school and the Orphanage at Stoke, also providing assistance to Father Garin.  He was vice president of the executive committee elected to organize the Nelson Horticultural, Art and Industrial Exhibition in 1873, winning first prize for his essay "A Page of Life on the Goldfields" (pub The Nelson Examiner, Nelson).  He wrote the legal handbooks "New Zealand Law List" 1881, Nelson, "The New Zealand Magistrates Court Guide" 1886 Nelson, "New Zealand Digest of Cases from 1861 to 1886" with his nephew Frank H Cooke, 1887 Nelson and "The Law of InnKeepers and Licensing Committees" 1887, Nelson.  He also found time to write "The Jubilee History of Nelson from 1842 to 1892" (pub Bond, Finney & Co, Nelson) which is still a highly regarded example of local history.

At the time of his death he was said to be preparing for the publication of the fourth edition of Judge Johnstone's "New Zealand Justice of the Peace, Resident Magistrate, Coroner and Constable" first published in 1864.7 

Lowther Broad is buried in Wakapuaka Cemetery, Roman Catholic Block 9, Plot 32/33.


Updated November 2020

Sources used in this story

  1. Burke, Sir Bernard (1970) "A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry" (pub Genealogical Publishing Co, Baltimore, USA), vol 1, p 292.
  2. Berry, HW (1982) "The Broad Outline, being future facts for futurity" (pub Malvern Vic Australia), pp 36-38.
  3. Lash, Max D (1992) "Nelson Notables 1840-1940" (pub Nelson Historical Society, Nelson NZ), p. 28.
  4. Schofield GH (1940) "A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography" (pub Dept of Internal Affairs, NZ), vol 1 p. 95.
  5. Nelson Examiner and NZ Chronicle, 17 Feb 1872, p.12.
  6. Obituary-Death of Judge Broad, The Colonist, Nelson August 17 1892, p 3
  7. Berry, HW 

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