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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


BROWNE, Gordon Davies


Timber trader.

In partnership with two other prominent Sydney merchants, Thomas Raine and David Ramsay, Browne owned the Horeke timber and shipbuilding yard where Enterprise, New Zealander, and Sir George Murray were built by David Clark between 1826 and 1830, and where for a time Browne himself managed the timber side of the business.

After the bankruptcy of the firm in 1830 Browne recommenced timber operations at Mahurangi in 1832 either in partnership with Ranulph Dacre or on his account, moving, in 1835 or 1836, to Mercury Bay, where a stone wharf and New Zealand's first water-powered sawmill were erected in 1838. S. McD. Martin wrote that Browne was “in a great measure entitled to the credit of having established the timber trade in New Zealand”. But difficulties in fulfilling his contracts – spars for the navy and sawn timber for the Sydney market – drove him further and further into debt. He became a prey to religious melancholia and was placed in the care of a Mrs Swayne at the Bay of Islands, where he died either in late 1841 or early 1842.

by Ruth Miriam Ross, School Teacher and Authoress, North Auckland.

  • O.L.C. files (MSS) National Archives
  • The Old Whaling Days, McNab, R. (1913)
  • New Zealand, Martin, S. McD. (1845)
  • Historical Records of Australia, Watson, F. (1914–25).


Ruth Miriam Ross, School Teacher and Authoress, North Auckland.