Leonard Isitt (minister)

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For other people with the surname Isitt see Isitt
The Reverend

Leonard Isitt
Leonard Monk Isitt, 1911.jpg
Isitt in 1911
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch North
In office
1911 – 1925
Preceded byTommy Taylor
Succeeded byHenry Holland
New Zealand Legislative Councillor
In office
28 October 1925 – 29 July 1937†
Appointed byGordon Coates
Personal details
Born(1855-01-04)4 January 1855
Bedford, England
Died29 July 1937(1937-07-29) (aged 82)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Resting placeLinwood Cemetery
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Agnes Caverhill
RelationsFrank Isitt (brother)
Kate Evelyn Isitt (niece)
Children2 inc. Sir Leonard Isitt
Professionminister of religion

Rev. Leonard Monk Isitt (4 January 1855 – 29 July 1937) was a Member of Parliament of the New Zealand Liberal Party.[1] He was a Methodist minister and an advocate of prohibition (temperance), in association with Tommy Taylor and his brother, Rev. Frank Isitt.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Bedford, England, in 1855. 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.[1][2] His brother Frank emigrated to New Zealand in 1870 as a Methodist minister, and in 1875, Leonard Isitt followed him.[3] His brother's daughter, Kate Evelyn Isitt, later worked for him as his private secretary.

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1911 17th Christchurch North Independent Liberal
1911–1914 18th Christchurch North Independent Liberal
1914–1919 19th Christchurch North Liberal
1919–1922 20th Christchurch North Liberal
1922–1925 21st Christchurch North Liberal

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.[4]

Isitt was a member of the Legislative Council from 1925 to his death in 1937.[5] 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".[6] Gordon Coates was Reform, and both of their former seats went to Reform candidates.

After Witty, Henry Holland of the Reform Party represented the Christchurch North electorate.

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[7]

Family and death[edit]

Leonard Isitt married Agnes Caverhill in 1881. They had two sons:

  • Sir Leonard Monk Isitt (1891–1976), a prominent Air Force commander.
  • Willard Whitmore Isitt (1894–1916), a rifleman in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, killed during WWI in France on 31 October 1916.

Leonard Isitt died on 29 July 1937 in Christchurch and was buried at Linwood Cemetery.[8]

Further reading[edit]

Works by Isitt[edit]

  • Isitt, Leonard M. (1891–1904), [Leonard M. Isitt: prohibition leader], n.p.: n.p.
  • This is a collection of newspaper clippings.
  • Diggens, Canon (ed.) (1895), Gothic gossip: a medley of fact, fiction and fun, n.p.: L.M. Isitt and P.F. PeirsonCS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Isitt was a contributor to this book. The "Gothic" was a ship.
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (1908), The liberty of the subject, Christchurch [N.Z.]: L.M. Isitt Book Depot. ; Fraser
  • This is a prohibition tract.
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (1914), Bible in schools: extract from a speech by Mr. L.M. Isitt, at Rugby Street Schoolroom on Nov. 18th, 1914, Christchurch [N.Z.]: Lyttelton Times, Printers
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (1919), Two lectures, Christchurch [N.Z.]: L.M. Isitt Ltd.
  • These lectures were on the recently ended war; and on the church's relations with both labour and pacifism.
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (c. 1924), Kahu, a Maori boy, Wellington, [N.Z.]: L.M. Isitt Ltd.
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (c. 1925), Five reasons for supporting the Bible in Schools Bill, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Isitt-Wildey Print
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (1925), Religious exercises in schools: a bill intituled: an act to provide for the performance of certain religious exercises in schools, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Isitt-Wildey Print
  • Isitt, Leonard M. (1925), Religious exercises in schools bill: excerpts from speech delivered by L.M. Isitt, in the House of Representatives, on Thursday, 20th August, 1925, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Government Printer

Works about Isitt[edit]

  • Isitt and his prohibition fad proved complete failures / by "It Is", Dunedin, [N.Z.]: Printed at the "Otago Workman" Office, 1893
  • Cleary, Henry William (1927), The state religion bill: Hon. Mr Isitt's pamphlet in support: a scathing exposure (2nd augmented ed.), Auckland [N.Z.]: Whitcombe and Tombs
  • A discourse delivered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Auckland, on 14 August 1927, a few hours after Dr. Cleary’s return from Europe. Cleary was the then-Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland.
  • Macdonald, George R., 'ISITT, Leonard Monk', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 18-Sep-2007, retrieved 30 May 2008
  • Whitcher, G. F. (1966), The New Liberal Party 1905 [M.A.(Hons.) - University of Canterbury]
  • Wood, G. Antony (ed.) (1996), Ministers and Members in the New Zealand Parliament, Dunedin, [N.Z.]: Otago University PressCS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)


  1. ^ a b c Obituary in The Times, Mr L. M. Isitt, 15 September 1937, p.17
  2. ^ The Eagle, vol. XVI no.1 (March, 1926), p. 55.
  3. ^ Davidson, Allan K. "Isitt, Leonard Monk". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  4. ^ Bassett 1982, p. 66.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 155.
  6. ^ Bassett 1982, p. 35.
  7. ^ "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post. 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 3 May 2011.


  • Bassett, Michael (1982). Three party politics in New Zealand, 1911–1931. Auckland, [N.Z.]: Historical Publications. ISBN 0-86870-006-1.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Tommy Taylor
Member of Parliament for Christchurch North
Succeeded by
Henry Holland