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Richard Brownlow (1832–1873)

by Deborah Cook

This article was published:

Richard Brownlow (1832-1873), champion rifle-shot, was born on 17 May 1832 in Sydney, son of Richard Brownlow and his wife Eliza. His parents had arrived in January 1823 at Hobart Town, where his father had set up as a publican; he also acquired land grants which he sold before moving in 1828 to Sydney. There he took over the Cavern Tavern in King Street, bought land at Morpeth in 1834 and next year began a wine and spirits business in George Street. He died in 1845; although unable to read or write, he left £1000 to each of his three daughters and a flourishing business to his son.

Brownlow junior described himself as a gentleman in 1854 when he married Elizabeth Ann Friend. Apparently he lived on his business profits and devoted his time to rifle shooting. He was 'among the first' to join the Volunteer Rifle Corps and in 1863-67 was in the teams which represented New South Wales against Victoria successfully except in 1864; although not shooting at his best he won third place in 1863, second in 1865 and third in 1867.

From 1861 in the Rifle Association meetings each October he won the All Comers' match in 1865 and 1868-70, using his own rifle; in 1866 with the unpopular government issue Long Enfield his shooting was said to be 'splendid', for he scored 35 out of a possible 40 at 200 (183 m) and 500 yards (457 m) in the Hythe position, in which the knee supported the left elbow. In matches arranged by the Enfield Registration Society he did best at 900 (823 m) and 1000 yards (914 m), winning second place with 325 out of 480 in 1868 and 320 in 1869. As a member of the Small Bore Club he achieved 'the extraordinary score' of 39 out of 40 at 800 yards (732 m) in 1867 and won the secretary's prize in 1870; next year in a match against visiting representatives of an English club he was easily first with 109 out of 120 at 800 (732 m), 900 (823 m) and 1000 yards (914 m); at first he used Henry and Whitworth rifles but in 1867 he won a Metford, given as a prize to the Rifle Association by Henry Dangar.

Brownlow's best performances were in the Volunteer Corps where he rarely missed a shooting practice. In 1862 he made the highest scores in his company throughout the year and in 1864-66 won three cups as the company's best shot. In 1864 he was a member of the battalion team in a match arranged by letter against the 2nd Hampshires in England; both sides shot in May and in July Brownlow learnt that his battalion had won by some 200 points and that he had come third. In 1866 he presented his company with a silver cup to be won three times in succession before it could be held. He won the company's champion medal in 1867 and 1871, and the battalion's badge for top scorer in 1865-67. As a conscientious member of the corps he was often offered a commission but remained a private, even after his appointment to the magistracy at Paddington in 1870.

In 1873 when intercolonial matches were revived Brownlow went with a team to Melbourne, but did not shoot well. Back in Sydney he developed typhoid fever, diphtheria and pneumonia and died on 7 December. He was buried with military honours in the Anglican section of the Elizabeth Street cemetery. Of his nine children, one son and five daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Dec 1862, 28 Oct 1867, 17 Feb 1870, 19 Dec 1873
  • Sydney Mail, 31 Dec 1864
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 23 Dec 1873.

Citation details

Deborah Cook, 'Brownlow, Richard (1832–1873)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 17 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 May, 1832
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


7 December, 1873 (aged 41)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.