Cleghorn Family Tree

Rev Leonard Isitt

Reverend Leonard Monk IsittAge: 82 years18551937

Name
Reverend Leonard Monk Isitt
Name prefix
Reverend
Given names
Leonard Monk
Surname
Isitt
Birth January 4, 1855
Note: His parents were James Isitt, a butcher, and Rebecca Isitt (née Cole).
Death of a fatherJames Isitt
1857 (Age 23 months)

Death of a motherRebecca Cole
1867 (Age 11 years)

Immigration 1877 (Age 21 years)
Note: His brother Frank emigrated to New Zealand in 1870 as a Methodist minister, and in 1875, Leonard Isitt followed him.
MarriageAgnes Martha CaverhillView this family
May 14, 1881 (Age 26 years)
Note: MARRIAGE: ISITT-CAVERHILL. On the 14th May, at Woodhouse, New Plymouth, by the Rev. D. McNicoll, Rev…
Birth of a daughter
#1
Francis Caverhill Isitt
1889 (Age 33 years)

Birth of a son
#2
Sir Leonard Monk Isitt KBE CBE LM
January 27, 1891 (Age 36 years)
Birth of a son
#3
Willard Whitmore Isitt
1894 (Age 38 years)

Residence 1896 (Age 40 years)
Address: Rolleston Street, Linwood
Death of a sonWillard Whitmore Isitt
October 31, 1916 (Age 61 years)
Cause: Died of Wounds
Note: ISITT, Private Willard, killed in action, was the younger son of Mr L M Isitt, M.P. aged about 23 yrs of age. He was engaged in his father's bookselling business when he enlisted. Mr Isitt's only other son was wounded in the Somme battle and is progressing favourably in hospital in England
Death of a brotherReverend Francis Whitmore “Frank” Isitt
November 11, 1916 (Age 61 years)
Burial of a sonWillard Whitmore Isitt
November 13, 1916 (Age 61 years)
Cemetery: Estaires Communal Cemetery
Burial of a brotherReverend Francis Whitmore “Frank” Isitt
November 15, 1916 (Age 61 years)
Address: Linwood Cemetery
Religion: Methodist
Note: Inscription:
Residence between 1911 and 1919 (Age 55 years)
Address: 17 Dyers Pass Rd, Cashmere
Residence 1922 (Age 66 years)
Address: 17 Kidson Terrace, Cashmere
Political
Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Christchurch North
between 1911 and 1925 (Age 55 years)

Note: Leonard Isitt took over Taylor’s parliamentary electorate of Christchurch North in a 1911 by-electio…
Death of a brotherHerbert John Isitt
September 14, 1926 (Age 71 years)
Burial of a brotherHerbert John Isitt
September 15, 1926 (Age 71 years)
Address: Linwood Cemetery
Note: Inscription:
Residence between 1928 and 1935 (Age 72 years)
Address: 7 Whareroa Tce, Cashmere
Political
Member New Zealand Legislative Council
between October 28, 1925 and July 29, 1937 (Age 70 years)

Award
King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
1935 (Age 79 years)

Death July 29, 1937 (Age 82 years)
Note: Lewisham Hospital was owned and operated by a Catholic order of nursing sisters, The Little Company of Mary. The hospital was established in 1914 and the name later changed to Calvary Hospital. Mary Potter Hospice operated at Calvary until 1990.It is currently the site of the Southern Cross hospital.
Burial July 31, 1937 (2 days after death)
Address: Linwood Block 36 Plot 179
Note: Inscription:
Biography
Biography
after 1938 (5 months after death)

Note: Leonard Monk Isitt was for many years the most prominent prohibition campaigner in New Zealand. He w…
Religion
Methodist

Note: He was a Methodist minister and an advocate of prohibition (temperance), in association with Tommy Taylor and his brother, Rev. Frank Isitt.
Family with parents - View this family
father
mother
Marriage:
elder brother
11 years
himself
-8 years
elder brother
Family with Agnes Martha Caverhill - View this family
himself
wife
Marriage: May 14, 1881Woodhouse, New Plymouth, New Zealand
9 years
daughter
6 years
son
-3 years
son

Birth

His parents were James Isitt, a butcher, and Rebecca Isitt (née Cole). He lost his father at age two and his mother when he was twelve. He was educated at Bedford Modern School.

Immigration

His brother Frank emigrated to New Zealand in 1870 as a Methodist minister, and in 1875, Leonard Isitt followed him.

Marriage

MARRIAGE: ISITT-CAVERHILL. On the 14th May, at Woodhouse, New Plymouth, by the Rev. D. McNicoll, Rev. Leonard M. Isitt, to Agnes Martha, eldest daughter of J. S. Caverhill, Esq.

Taranaki Herald, Volume XXIX, Issue 3736, 18 May 1881, Page 2

Political

Leonard Isitt took over Taylor’s parliamentary electorate of Christchurch North in a 1911 by-election after Tommy Taylor died. He held the seat, first as an Independent then as a Liberal until he retired in 1925.

Isitt was a member of the Legislative Council from 1925 to his death in 1937. Isitt and George Witty were both appointed to the Legislative Council by Gordon Coates on 28 October 1925; shortly before the 1925 election on 4 November. Both were Liberals but their retirement removed "a source of some bitterness from the Party’s ranks". Gordon Coates was Reform, and both of their former seats went to Reform candidates.

Death

Lewisham Hospital was owned and operated by a Catholic order of nursing sisters, The Little Company of Mary. The hospital was established in 1914 and the name later changed to Calvary Hospital. Mary Potter Hospice operated at Calvary until 1990.It is currently the site of the Southern Cross hospital.

Burial

Inscription: Honourable Leonard Monk ISITT M.L.C. Methodist Minister 1855 – 1937 There are who triumph in a losing cause Tis they who stand for freedom and Gods laws

Biography

Leonard Monk Isitt was for many years the most prominent prohibition campaigner in New Zealand. He was born in Bedford, England, on 4 January 1855, the son of James Isitt, a butcher, and his wife, Rebecca Catherine Cole. His father died when he was two and his mother when he was 12. Brought up a Methodist, he attended Clevedon Methodist College in Northampton and was apprenticed to the soft-goods trade.

Isitt's brother Frank came out to New Zealand in 1870 as a Methodist minister and Leonard joined him in 1875. After working in a Dunedin warehouse, Leonard undertook Methodist home mission work in Lawrence in 1877. He was accepted as probationary minister in 1879 and admitted as full minister in 1883. Between 1879 and 1892 he served in Waiuku–Pukekohe, Tuakau, Parnell, Masterton, Wellington and Christchurch. He married Agnes Martha Caverhill at New Plymouth on 14 May 1881; they were to have two sons and a daughter.

Experience of the extent of drunkenness in some communities made Isitt a committed prohibitionist. He was elected a foundation vice president of the New Zealand Alliance in 1886 and served as president in 1894. Frank Isitt was secretary of the Alliance from 1900 to 1909 and editor of its paper, the Prohibitionist, renamed the Vanguard in 1906. The Prohibitionist was started in Christchurch in 1890 by Leonard Isitt and Tommy Taylor. By 1891 they were publishing 25,000 copies, the largest circulation of any newspaper in the country. In 1892 Leonard Isitt was found guilty of libelling Henry Drummond, publican of the Waltham Arms. Isitt had called him an unscrupulous liar and accused him of selling liquor with indifference to the suffering it caused. Isitt was ordered to pay only 40 shillings in damages and the Prohibitionist's publishers a farthing.

The Prohibitionist was caught up in the campaign to support the cancelling of licences for public houses. Sydenham, where Isitt was minister from 1888 to 1891, became a test case. He was president of the Sydenham Prohibition League in 1890, was elected to the local licensing committee and became its chairman. When the committee refused to renew hotel licences, the case was taken to the Supreme Court which found against the committee. On appeal to the Privy Council the adverse judgement was confirmed with costs of some £700. Isitt, released from active ministry in 1893, became a full-time prohibition campaigner.

It was as a platform speaker that Isitt had his greatest influence and he was regarded as perhaps the greatest orator in New Zealand. He conducted prohibition missions throughout the country and during four successful visits to Britain. His incessant campaigning reputedly ruined a fine singing voice. His pressure on the government to pass strict licensing legislation contributed to the Alcoholic Liquors Sale Control Act 1893, which allowed individual electorates to ban the sale of alcohol. The introduction of this local option was Isitt's greatest achievement in public life.

In 1908 Isitt retired from the Methodist ministry and established himself as a bookseller and stationer in Christchurch, stocking theological books and Sunday school supplies and publishing some school texts. He succeeded his close friend, Tommy Taylor, as member of Parliament for Christchurch North in 1911, holding the seat until 1925 when he was appointed to the Legislative Council. Originally an independent, he later aligned himself with the Liberals.

Although he gave leadership to the prohibition and Bible in schools campaigns in Parliament he was not a single-issue politician. He was to the forefront of debates supporting alternative service for conscientious objectors, and he spoke out against further alienation of Maori land. He was no religious bigot, favouring the exemption of Marist teaching brothers from conscription in 1917, and was distressed by Howard Elliott and the Protestant Political Association's campaign against Catholics: 'It makes one ashamed to be a Protestant'.

Isitt was a member of the first Dominion Council of the Boy Scouts' Association and warmly commended the movement to ministers in his own church. He was a keen cricketer and follower of the game. In 1922 he was elected vice president of the Methodist Church of New Zealand in its centenary year. He also served as a member of the Canterbury College board of governors.

Leonard Isitt was passionately committed to the moral reform of New Zealand society through prohibition, Bible in schools and anti-gambling campaigns. Although he was usually on the losing side he was not vindictive and his genial personality and fund of humour balanced his biting sarcasm and persistent advocacy of the causes in which he believed. He died in Christchurch on 29 July 1937, survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. One son, Willard, had died of wounds in France in 1916. The other son, Leonard, became chief of the air staff of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and air vice marshal.

Religion

He was a Methodist minister and an advocate of prohibition (temperance), in association with Tommy Taylor and his brother, Rev. Frank Isitt.

Note

Methodist minister, temperance leader, politician.

Leonard Monk Isitt was born in a Methodist home in Bedford, England; his father died when he was two and his mother when he was 12. He was educated at Clevedon Methodist College, Northampton, and, afterwards, at the age of 15, joined a draperyfirm. He came out to New Zealand to get experience and also to join his brother Francis Whitmore who was a Methodist minister at Balclutha. Isitt worked in the warehouse of Ross and Glendining at Dunedin, but the urge to enter the Methodistministry became stronger, and he was sent to a Home Mission Station at Lawrence. Here occurred an incident which influenced his subsequent career. Called upon to conduct the burial service of a man who had died of alcoholic poisoning, whose bodywas hurried by a drunken driver to a grave left half-dug by a drunken gravedigger, Isitt scathingly denounced the publicans present at the funeral and set his whole energies to fight the drink evil.

Isitt became a minister in 1876 and was ordained in 1881. He was stationed successively at Auckland, Masterton, Wellington, Christchurch and, finally, in 1889 at Sydenham, where the drink evil was seen in its most sordid aspect. It was largely aworking-class district, with grimy little cottages jammed into the smallest possible sections, many of them blackened with smoke from the railway yards. He met T. E. Taylor, a kindred spirit, and together they determined to fight for legislativeprohibition. The campaign followed two chief lines of attack. One was propaganda spread by means of a paper, The Prohibitionist, which, although started for local consumption, was soon circulated throughout New Zealand under the name of theVanguard. His brother Francis edited the paper. This propaganda was aided by one of the most powerful speaking campaigns ever carried out in New Zealand. Isitt had a natural eloquence which, fed by his burning enthusiasm for his cause, made himan orator of a type probably unequalled in New Zealand. He ruined a good singing voice by his efforts. Dr C. F. Aked described him in these words: “When did we hear such speaking as his? Clear pure Saxon, not a word misplaced, not a sentencewhich could be improved; every phrase a point; every point sent home; massive sentences falling like the strokes of a sledgehammer”. The Methodist Conference released him from his usual work to concentrate on his campaign.

Isitt's second line of attack was to gain control of the Licensing Committee and refuse licences to all Sydenham hotels. The first attempt in 1890 failed, but the next election resulted in all five members elected being Prohibitionists. Thepublicans, however, took a test case to Court and Judge Denniston ruled that the Licensing Committee had acted beyond its powers, which should be used in a judicial and impartial manner, not as an instrument of a campaign. The Court of Appealunanimously upheld him.

Isitt made four speaking tours in England at the invitation of the United Kingdom Alliance. When T. E. Taylor died in 1911, he succeeded him as member of Parliament for Sydenham, and held the seat until 1925 when he was appointed to theLegislative Council. He worked hard to get the Local Option Bill through Parliament and was successful. Bible in Schools was another cause he worked for and he was prominent in the Boy Scout movement. He was a governor of Canterbury College andwas vice-president of the Methodist Centenary Conference in 1922. He founded the firm of L. M. Isitt and Co., booksellers (Christ-church), and was its managing director.

In 1881 he married Agnes, daughter of John Scott Caverhill. One son, Sir Leonard Isitt, was head of the New Zealand Air Staff and another was killed in the 1914–18 war.

Isitt died at Lewisham Hospital on 29 July 1937, aged 83.