Detective Charles Townley BROWNE 1826-1908
1860 investigation at Casterton, S-W Victoria, Australia
Glenelg & Wannon Region, S-W Victoria, Australia
"The Argus" Thursday, 16th August 1860
The inhabitants of Casterton, in order to show their appreciation of the conduct of Detective Brown in bringing about the arrest and conviction of Waines, the murderer of Mr. and Mrs. Hunt, have presented him, by subscription, with a valuable gold watch, which he has been permitted by the authorities to accept.
"Marlborough Express" New Zealand, 12th February 1908
The death of Mr Charles Townley Browne, which occurred at Wellington yesterday morning, removes one who has been connected with the detection of crime since the earliest days of the Dominion. Old West Coasters and the public of Wellington in particular will remember, and with the kindliest feelings of appreciation, the man whose name was for years a household word where matters concerning crime and criminals were concerned. His going removes another link which binds the early days of New Zealand with the present.
Mr Browne was the youngest son of Mr W. Browne, barrister, of Dublin, and he was born in 1826, so that at the time of his death he was nearly 82 years of age. He went out to Victoria in 1852, and after spending some time on the goldfields, he joined the Victorian detective police, in which capacity he distingushed himself in bringing to justice many notorious bushrangers and other offenders. In 1866 he came to New Zealand, and joined the police, and on the gold diggings of the West Coast he quickly established for himself a reputation as a tracker of criminals, which has lived right down to the present time. In 1880 he was made Chief Detective (the first appointment of the kind made in New Zealand), and came to Wellington in that capacity. Five years later he was appointed Inspector of Police in the Empire City, though he still retained command of the detective branch of the service; and did excellent work in that capacity. Early in 1890 he was notified of his transference to Auckland, but, owing to an attack of rheumatism, he was obliged to retire on compensation on the 15th January of that year. Soon after his retirement he settled at Kilbirnie, and, taking an interest in municipal matters, he was elected to the position of Mayor of Melrose, which he occupied for two or three years. After the death of his wife in 1899 he sold most of his suburban property, and came into town, living with his niece, who is the wife of Chief Detective McGrath. He was also a Justice of the Peace, and frequently sat on the Bench. He had no children, his only relations in New Zealand being Mrs McGrath and two nephews, Mr H. V. Browne, draper, Blenheim, and Mr J. V. Browne, of Auckland.--"Post."
"The Mercury" (Hobart, Tas.) Friday, 28th February 1908.
Mr. Charles Townley Browne, whose death took place at Wellington, recently, was for many years connected with the detective branch, of the polico force of New Zealand, principally on the West Coast and at Wellington and Auckland. The deceased made a name for himself which few of the early settlers will easily forgot, and was repeatedly before the public as an energetic and capable officer who sheeted home many cases to notorious criminals. He first came into prominence as a detective in Victoria, towards the end of the fifties, when he brought to justice the perpetrator of one of tho most atrocious murders in the annals of Australian crime, the murder at Casterton of Mr. and Mrs. Hunt by George Wains. Another brilliant arrest about the same time was that of a bushranger named Scott, who, but for the pluck and perseverance of the deceased, would probably have escaped punishment. In 1866 New Zealand appealed to Mr. Browne, who secured a position in the police force there. In March 1879, he travelled from Hokitika to Wellington to take up the position of chief detective, the first appointment of the kind made in New Zealand.
The career of the deceased detective was full of exciting incidents, but it will be sufficient to recall one or two of the many. In connection with the Casterton murder, Mr. and Hrs. Hunt were murdered by Wains for gain. He cut the bodies up and placed them in a bag and anchored them at the bottom of the Glenelg River, near Casterton. After the murder became known to the authorities the matter was placed in the hands of Detective Browne for investigation, with the result that after 15 months of careful and ingenious working, he discovered the murderer, who was tried, convicted, and eventually hanged. The detective, after investigation, had his eye on Wains, and with an end in view took a position as "wood and water joey" at a certain hotel. He had not been long in the position, when Waines came along and put his horse up at the stable. The crime was almost ancient history by this time, and the detective could not risk talking about it without raising the suspicions of the people, but to revive the matter he secured an old Government notice, with the Royal Arms at the top, and posted it up, wording it to the effect that the Government had decided to re-open the case, and offer a reward for the capture of the murderer. Wains saw the notice, and as a result got drunk. Browne gave him a shake-down in the stable, and after the man had rested a while wakened him up and asked, as a means of testing him, why he had been talking in his sleep about choking people. Wains sobered up directly, and asked anxiously, what he had been saying, his whole demeanour convincing the detective that he was on the right track.
The detective took the risk of having Wains arrested on suspicion, and a few hours later had himself, arrested at the hotel for being a ticket-of-leave man out of his district. The sergeant of police was in the secret, but the arresting constable was not, and the tale the constable told on returning to the hotel of the rough behaviour of the ticket-of-leave man under arrest quite disarmed suspicion. The detective spent a week in prison, and kept in touch with Wains, who invariably asked where the prisoners were searching for the remains of tho murdered people. The detective kept letting his fellow-prisoner know of various places in the Glenelg River that the authorities were having searched by the prisoners, of whom he was one, until at length the murderer told the whole story to the disguised detective, and asked him to remove the remains, offering him 500 for doing so.
Then followed the trial and the scaffold. On the morning Wains was to be hanged he sent for the detective, as he wished to tell him he bore him no ill-will, as he (the detective) had done his duty.
The capture of the bushranger Scott was also a plucky piece of work. The outlaw had locked himself in a shed, and the detective had no chance, of getting him out without exposing himself, so enlisted the aid of a boy, who was sent to the whare to ask for the loan of a billy for his father. The bushranger handed the billy out through a partly-opened doorway, and while he was in this position the police officer, who had crept up, secured the outstretched arm with an iron grip, and presented a revolver at the man's head with the other hand. The capture was effected.

Links to Pioneer Names at...

Carapook & Muntham : Casterton : Chetwynd : Dartmoor : Digby : Harrow & Balmoral : Hotspur :

Merino & Henty : Sandford : Strathdownie : Wando Vale

Daryl Povey