Broun was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 15 July 1838, the son of John
Broun, a Lieutenant (and artist), and his wife, Margaret Stewart. Both
his father and an uncle were naturalists of considerable repute and so
it was not unexpected that Broun took a keen interest in natural
history, especially insects.
Brounís family were of some social standing he was educated in
Edinburgh by a private tutor.
enlisted in the Forfar Artillery Militia in the mid 1850ís and on 8
July 1856 was commissioned as an Ensign in the 35th (Royal Sussex)
Regiment of Foot, which he then accompanied to Burma. It was here that
he started a collection for the British Museum.
May 1857 Broun and a small detachment of men from his Regiment were sent
to Calcutta at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny. He is believed to have
been engaged in the protection of the French settlement of Pondicherry,
which was threatened by a large body of mutineers.
main engagement of the 35th Regiment during the Indian Mutiny
was in the Jugdispoore jungles in April 1858, where, on 23 April 1858
they suffered heavy casualties (the dead included 3 officers, 5
sergeants and over 100 men).
17 March 1861 Broun was promoted to Lieutenant. Near the end of 1861 he
was struck down with cholera and narrowly escaped death. He was
invalided home in 1862 and retired from the army on 3 October of that
26 March 1863 Broun married Ann (Anne) Shepherd at Edinburgh; she was
well educated, a talented linguist and musician, and a lover of bird and
animal life. They immigrated to New Zealand later in the year, and were
to raise a family of at least six daughters.
had letters of introduction from the Duke of Hamilton to Governor Sir
George Grey, and on 19 September 1863 was offered a commission as
Captain in the newly formed 1st Regiment of the Waikato Militia.
1863 and 1866 Broun commanded detachments of Colonial troops encamped at
St Johnís (Manukau), Papatoetoe, Alexandra (Tuakau), Judea (Tauranga),
Hamilton and Cambridge Redoubts. He was known as a kind and respected
commander who always put the interests of his men first. His diary of
the period is held at Auckland Museum and a copy is held in The
1866 Broun was in command of a detachment of men from the 7th
Company of the 1st Waikato Regiment
when (together with two companies of the 12th
Regiment) they engaged Maori in the bush near Katikati. The fight was
described as being fierce and vicious and the Maori were defeated.
Captain Broun later commanded serval columns from Whakatane which were
sent to intercept the Maori leader Te Kooti. Under his command was
Cornet Harry Wrigg of the Bay of Plenty Cavalry Volunteers who was
subsequently awarded the New Zealand Cross.
retired from the army for the second time in
his life in 1868. And, with an entitlement to a Crown land grant,
and took up farming at Opotiki. The venture was not successful.
Allegations that he had withdrawn the money of four privates but had not
paid it to them led to a refusal to issue his Crown grant. He was
declared bankrupt in mid 1867, and the allegations were not disproved
until the end of the year.
continued to collect and describe insects, particularly beetles. He
usually worked at night, at times enlisting the services of his
daughters to sort out specimens from his samples. He presented the first
of his many papers to the Auckland Institute in 1875.
1876 Broun was offered a position with the Auckland Board of Education
via his old colleague and then Minister of Defence Colonel Haultain.
From 1876 to 1888 he was employed as a teacher at Tairua, Whangarei
Heads, Kawau Island and Howick. During this period he prepared the first
volume of his Manual of the New Zealand Coleoptera , which was
first published in 1880 and contained descriptions of 1,140 species. Six
further volumes were published, the last in 1893. Later descriptions
were published in the papers of scientific societies. In total Broun
identified some 3979 species of New Zealand insect and his works still
remain the definitive text on this subject.
1894 Broun was appointed to the Department of Agriculture as government
entomologist at Auckland. Between 1896 and 1907 he was also the
inspector (latterly chief inspector) of imported fruit at Auckland. He
went on to found what became the DSIR (Department of Scientific and
Industrial Research) (now ESR) and was admitted as a Fellow of the
Entomological Society. This is a remarkable achievement given that he
had never actually attended University and his qualifications appear
limited to what he was taught by his private tutor some 60 years
1905 he was promoted to the rank of Major in the New Zealand Militia and
also held the post of Commandant and Vice President of the Empire
lived at a small farmlet ďNga OkiĒ at Runciman, near Drury from
about 1889 to 1908. He shifted to 26 William Street (now Willcott
Street) in Mount Eden in 1911 and remained there until his death.
died at Auckland on 24 August 1919, survived by his wife and six
daughters. Ann Broun died in 1923. He is buried at Waikumete Cemetery in