Samuel Brownlow was first mentioned in the Argus newspaper on 31 August 1854 when he was one of a number of listed landowners petitioning the Colonial Government for the establishment of a Road Board of the Shire of Epping. These Road Boards were the forerunner of our modern day Councils.
It was an innocuous introduction from a man who was to get a large degree of very unfavourable press during the next decade. At this stage his reputation seems intact, he was making a strong contribution to the development of roads in the fledgling Shire and was reputable enough to be used as a witness in the dissolution of a business partnership in the following year.
In March 1855 Brownlow entered into partnership with William Bastings of the Peacock Hotel. In exchange for £577 Brownlow would be entitled to a share of the profits in the hotel. This would have been fine if Brownlow actually had any money, which of course he didn’t.
Brownlow continued to take his share of the profits and even racked up debts which saw the stock of the hotel being seized by the Sheriff for none payment. It was a grateful Bastings family who eventually was able to use the courts to scrape Brownlow off their hides.
In 1858 Brownlow applied for a license to run the Northcote Arms Hotel. The hotel was in some disrepair but Brownlow stated he would fix the building. He had good references for his good treatment of his customers (although not I bet, his partners.)
In the next year the wheels really started to fall off for Brownlow. In March Brownlow laid charges against Daniel Clancy for obscene language. When the case came to court Brownlow was seen to be doing everything in his power to protect Clancy. This behaviour only stopped when Brownlow was told he was endangering his license.
Brownlow then found his reputation smeared after a court case between Lewis Solomon and Mr Walker. Solomon had purchased the Northcote Arms Hotel from Mr Walker after being assured of its profitability. Walker had assured Solomon that the publican, our friend Samuel Brownlow had been paying a minimum of £150 per annum and that the annual turnover was no less than £300. Brownlow confirmed that this was true.
It turns out that this was far from the truth. The hotel made little money, Brownlow never paid anything like £150 per annum and in fact was already seriously in arrears. Mr Walker confessed that the idea had all been the idea of Mr Brownlow, who had wisely skipped town. Walker said that Brownlow had not been a good tenant and had already been kicked out of the hotel.
Brownlow must have returned to the hotel because in November he was dragged in front of the courts, charged with having robbed a drunk at the hotel. The case was dismissed as lacking any evidence.
But things were catching up to Brownlow and in December he was arrested for intemperance and insanity. The Argus noted that Brownlow was in a “deplorable state” and clearly suffering from the effects of severe alcoholism. Detained over the Christmas period, Brownlow was released in early January.
In 1862 Brownlow attempted to gain a license for the Pilgrim Inn but it was opposed by the police. He vanished from Northcote’s history although he may have ended in Sandridge as his wife’s death was recorded there in 1868.