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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Broome, Sir Frederick Napier

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Broome, Sir Frederick Napier, K.C.M.G., eldest son of the late Rev. Frederick Broome, rector of Kenley, Salop, by his wife Catherine Eleanor, eldest daughter of Lieut-Col. Napier, formerly Superintendent Indian Department, Canada, was born in Canada, on Nov. 18th, 1842, and educated at Whitchurch Grammar School, Salop. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1857, and engaged in pastoral pursuits. Visiting England in 1864, he married on June 21st, 1865, Mary Anne, widow of the late Col. Sir George Barker, R.A., K.C.B. (q.v.). Returning the same year to his New Zealand sheep-station, in the Malvern Hills, province of Canterbury, he continued colonial life for a time; but finally left New Zealand for London in 1869, and for the six following years contributed largely to the Times newspaper, acting as correspondent for that journal at the Duke of Edinburgh's marriage at St. Petersburg, and on many other occasions, and furnishing numerous literary reviews, art criticisms, and miscellaneous articles to the columns of the leading journal, then edited by the late Mr. John Delane. He published two volumes of verse, "Poems from New Zealand" (1868) and "The Stranger of Seriphos" (1869), and contributed verse to the Cornhill, Macmillan's Magazine, and other periodicals. He was appointed, in 1870, Secretary to the St. Paul's Cathedral Completion Fund, and in 1873 Secretary to the Royal Commission on Unseaworthy Ships, and held for some time a commission in the Essex yeomanry. He was selected by the late Earl of Carnarvon, in 1875, to proceed with Lord (then Sir Garnet) Wolseley on a special mission to Natal, as Colonial Secretary of that colony. He hold that post until 1878, when he was promoted to the Colonial Secretaryship of Mauritius, where he administered the government in 1879, and was Lieutenant-Governor of the island from 1880 to 1888. On receiving the news of the disaster at Isandula, he despatched at once to the assistance of Lord Chelmsford nearly the whole of the garrison of the colony. For this service he was warmly thanked by the Governor and High Commissioner of the Cape Colony (the late Sir Bartle Frere), and by the colony off Natal through its Lieut.-Governor, Sir Henry Bulwer, his action being also fully approved by Her Majesty's Government. He was appointed on Dec. 14th, 1882, Governor of Western Australia, and assumed office in June 1883. Sir Frederick was created C.M.G. in 1877, K.C.M.G. in 1884; and visited England in 1885, when, with the "view of extending a knowledge of the resources of what was at that time a little known colony, he read a paper on "Western Australia" before the Colonial Institute, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales taking the chair. Sir Frederick Broome's term of government of Western Australia was marked by a great extension of railways and telegraphs, and much general progress. The question of a change of the constitution of the colony to the form known as responsible government having come forward, it became Sir Frederick's duty to act as intermediary between the Legislative Council and the Secretary of State. After considerable correspondence the details of the new constitution were settled, and a bill, approved by Her Majesty's Government, finally passed the local legislature in 1889. Imperial parliamentary sanction being required for the transfer of the Crown lands to the Colonial Legislature, the necessary bill was at once introduced by Lord Knutsford, and passed the House of Lords; but, owing to a strong opposition to handing over the immense tract of Crown lands to the colonists, which suddenly showed itself in the home press and in the House of Commons, the bill could not be proceeded with in the House in 1889, and had to be deferred to the following year. To clear up the extraordinary misapprehensions which existed on the matter, Sir Frederick Broome addressed a letter to the Times, which had a considerable effect. A good deal of determined opposition to the bill, however, continued; and Sir Frederick and two leading members of the Western Australian Legislature came to England, in Dec. 1889, at the wish of the colony and with Lord Knutsford's concurrence, to give evidence before the select committee of the House of Commons, to which, early in the session of 1890, the Constitution Bill was referred. The whole facts of the case were most fully explained to the select committee by Sir Frederick Broome and the other witnesses, the blue book containing the report of the evidence being a complete compendium of information respecting Western Australia. The commission reported, much to the surprise of the London press, in favour of the bill and of the transfer of all lands to the colony. Opposition was at length overcome, or nearly so. The Government stood firm, and had the support of the front Opposition bench; and after some applications of the closure, Sir Frederick Broome had the satisfaction of witnessing the passage of the bill through committee with all restrictions erased, the whole of the lands of the vast territory—1,060,000 square miles in extent—being freely handed over to the Legislature of Western Australia, which thus obtained its new constitution on the same basis as the other colonies of the continent, there being no opposition to the bill in the House of Lords. On quitting Western Australia, in Dec. 1889, for the mission to England in connection with the Constitution Bill, Sir Frederick and Lady Broome received many proofs of the esteem and regard of the colonists. Sir Frederick's tenure of the government of Western Australia came to an end with his mission to England, and finally ceased in Sept 1890. In July 1891 he was appointed Governor of Trinidad.