Anthony Godsell Brabazon

By Mark Brabazon
See additions to this Branch's History

Anthony Godsell Brabazon, our great-grandfather, was born on 10 September 1841. His parents were Rev. James Brabazon, an Anglican clergyman, and Elizabeth Jane Levinge. James and Elizabeth had married on 25 June 1828. Their firstborn, Samuel Levinge [1], entered the world on 22 March 1829, and a daughter, Thomasine Jane, arrived some time later [2]. By the time of Anthony's birth, his father was 41 and his parents had been married 13 years

A younger sister was named Elizabeth Melesina [3]. There were other children whose names I do not know [4]. Samuel was 11 years Anthony's senior; the distribution of ages suggests that Anthony was not quite the youngest. The family lived at Levington Park in the Irish county of Westmeath [5], possibly in Ailmarisia Rectory [6]. The place name suggests a connection with Elizabeth's family, who may have been more prosperous than James; a baronetcy was associated with the Levinge family in Westmeath at about this time.

So, in short, Anthony grew up as a younger son in a fairly large clerical household with minor aristocratic connections. Given that background, he probably received a relatively good education by the standard of the times. His parents probably enjoyed good health in his early years, for they lived on to 1884 and 1885 respectively. But by Easter 1860 in his 19th year, we find Anthony embarked on the 2000 ton clipper 'Young America' bound from Liverpool to Melbourne.

Anthony's is the last name in the ship's register [7], included with a few other latecomers on a supplementary page drawn up after tallies of passengers had been finalized. Perhaps he joined the ship at the last minute, as she sought clearance from the port of Liverpool with passengers posing for the benefit of port inspectors as members of the short-handed crew [8].

The ship's register describes Anthony as an 18-year-old Irish labourer, though the latter descriptor probably reflects no more than the absence of a trade or profession [9]. We can be fairly confident that he travelled in steerage [10], along with the majority of the 340 passengers on board, almost half of whom (though none in the first cabin) were Irish. Given the year, most were probably bound for the gold fields, and all or most were unassisted. The steerage passengers appeared to their betters as a rough and disrespectful lot, though not so rough as the hotchpotch crew of Dutch, Americans, French, Italians, Russians and Danes; before the journey was through, the first mate had been knifed near to death and the third mate hit over the head with an iron pin. The journey lasted almost three months, terminating in Melbourne on 2 July 1860.

By 1864 we find Anthony managing Tummaville Station, the cattle section of a larger sheep run called Yandilla, on the western Darling Downs in the newly separated colony of Queensland. Under the colony's qualified property franchise, non-landowners could vote if they had an annual salary of £100 or more, a happy condition which applied to Anthony [11]. I cannot say for sure how our great-grandfather settled on Queensland as a destination and found himself in such a responsible position at such a young age, but two pieces of secondary evidence may assist. Uncle Reggie wrote in 1955 that 'My father had first cousins out here, James Crawford and Bob Levinge' [12]. And the information given by Uncle Charlie on their father's death implies that he arrived in Queensland as early as 1860 [13]. So perhaps Anthony travelled to Australia by express arrangement with family already established in Queensland, possibly engaged in the pastoral industry and perhaps even associated with the ownership of Yandilla Station. Perhaps he travelled directly from Melbourne to the Darling Downs to take up some form of employment, not necessarily as cattle manager, in connection with the property. These speculations suggest that Anthony may have travelled with his parents' blessing to take up an opportunity offered him in the colonies, which appeared more enticing than any that was available in Ireland. This is also consistent with the warm regard for the family in Ireland received by subsequent generations here and the absence of tradition suggesting any break between Anthony and his parents.

Anthony married Emma Wilson Holdsworth at St Paul's Church of England at Ipswich on 24 October 1865. They were both 24 years old. Emma came from a Yorkshire family with a long history as medical practitioners and dissenters. She was born in November 1840, the third of six children. Her father, a surgeon, died when Emma was nine; her mother passed away five years later, in 1855. Family connections had previously been established in the Ipswich district of Queensland, and an uncle took Emma, two brothers and three sisters to the colony shortly after the death of their mother, and Holdsworths and Atkinsons (Emma's mother's family) feature in subsequent Brabazon family connections. [14]

After their marriage (when they gave their rank or profession as 'Gentleman' and 'Lady' respectively), Anthony and Emma returned to Tummaville. Six children followed over the next 14 years: Emily Constance in 1867; Charles James Anthony on 19 August 1869; Rupert Levinge, my grandfather, on 8 April 1871; Frederick Reginald on 3 August 1873; Mary Violet in 1875; and Elsie May in 1878 or 1879. Some time between 1877 and 1879, with Anthony and Emma in their late 30s, the family moved to a 66 acre farming property called 'Avondale' at Coorparoo, which Anthony leased from Emma's brother-in-law, Samuel Harries [15]. The Brabazon and Harries children were among the first to receive primary education at the new Coorparoo State School. That area is now part of Brisbane, but was then a farming settlement.

Anthony and Emma may also have spent some time at Hidden Vale near Grandchester, west of Ipswich.

By 1 October 1898, we find Anthony and Emma in their mid 50s living on a property, which he or they have bought, near the Booval railway station just east of Ipswich. Anthony is recorded as working as an instructor in inoculation and their youngest son, Reggie, as a superintendent of meat works; he is living with his parents [16]. Meanwhile the eldest son, Charles, who married in 1897, is living in western Queensland and has started a family. A little later, Anthony is described as a stock inspector.

Anthony died on 8 May 1901 of a kidney ailment and cardiac troubles, which had been evident over the preceding 12 months. He was 59 years old, and lies buried in Ipswich cemetery. His will, made nine days earlier and evidently with awareness of his impending death, appoints Emma his executrix and leaves the bulk of his estate to her [17]. The Probate file discloses no real estate, which suggests either that he had bought the Booval property jointly with Emma, or that he transferred ownership of it before his death to reduce death duty.

By 1902, Emma had moved to Eagle Junction near Brisbane. Charles was working as a station manager at Maneroo near Longreach, Rupert, who had married my grandmother six weeks after his father's death, was dairy farming at Pimpama, and Reggie was a tallow expert at Ross River, Townsville [18]. At some time in the next two decades, Reggie left the north and returned to Brisbane to join his youngest sister, Elsie, in caring for their mother. Elsie ran 'Miss Brabazon's School' or 'Lubmere', a boarding establishment for young ladies at Auchenflower. Emma was ever a determined and self-reliant soul, but in old age her mind began to wander somewhat, and she acquired the reputation of peremptorily sacking her daughter's kitchen and teaching staff. She died on 11 October 1923, aged 81 years and 11 months, and is buried in Toowong cemetery.


1. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106 ed (1999), 'Meath'. James is described in Anthony's marriage certificate as a 'Clergyman of the Church of England', sc. the Church of Ireland. The pronunciation of Elizabeth's surname, as received in my family in the form of an occasionally repeated matronym, is le-ving.

2. Burke's Peerage lists Thomasine's date of marriage as 16 February 1855, but omits the date of her birth. The date of her marriage shows that she was older than Anthony.

3. Burke records that Elizabeth Melesina married on 5 August 1875 and had issue; these facts suggest that she was probably younger than Anthony.

4. Burke refers to 'other issue', which is there were other children, male or female, who did not themselves leave issue. The gaps in ages between the four children referred to, all of who did leave issue, suggests a larger family with some unmarried sisters or brothers.

5. Marriage certificate of AGB.

6. Letter from Anthony's son, F R Brabazon, 4 December 1955.

7. Passenger List of the "Young America", Liverpool to Melbourne, 1860, Victoria, Public Records Office, Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports), VPRS 7666 (Microfiche), sheet 179 pp. 1-10.

8. McRae, James; Wain, William H (ed), Journey from Liverpool to Melbourne 1860, The Diary of James McRae (1988, the editor, Hawthorn, Victoria).

9. The diarist James McRae, whose writing reflects obvious education, was also described as a labourer.

10. The passenger list names first cabin passengers, and McRae names or describes the second and most of the intermediate cabin passengers.

11. The reference to his income and to Yandilla comes from the 1864 Queensland electoral roll for the seat of Western Downs, being the first such roll compiled. A letter from Anthony's youngest son, F R Brabazon, dated 4 December 1955 refers to Tummaville as the cattle section of the Yandilla sheep station. This is consistent with Anthony's description of himself as a 'cattle manager' in his 1865 marriage certificate. The reference to Tummaville Station is supported by other documents, including the 1871 birth certificate of his second son, Rupert Levinge Brabazon. At the same time, the electoral roll still refers to Yandilla as the place where his electoral qualification is 'situate or arising'. Yandilla is on the rail line about 12 km east of Millmerran; Tummaville is about 15 km east of Yandilla by road, which suggests that the latter was included in the former for electoral purposes.

12. Letter from F R Brabazon to Hugh Owen, 4 December 1955.

13. Death certificate of Anthony Godsell Brabazon, stating that he had been 41 years in Queensland at the time of his death in 1901.

14. The interconnections are labyrinthine. Anthony's and Emma's second daughter, Mary, married a J A Atkinson; my grandfather, Rupert, married into the sprawling Macdonald family of Bromelton, Beaudesert and Boonah, which intermarried at several points with Holdsworths and Atkinsons.

15. Harries had married Emma's younger sister, Maria Louisa. The Harries had a house of their own on a corner of the property which was reserved from the lease. I have not verified the details of the lease, which is said to have run for five years (at least as its initial term) for an annual rental of £100. The lease is said to have commenced in 1877. Anthony is last recorded at Tummaville on an electoral roll prepared in January 1879, and is absent from a roll prepared in December 1879

16. Queensland Electoral Roll for the Electoral District of Ipswich, 1900.

17. The main assets of the estate were insurance policies totalling £744. Anthony also left specific bequests to his sons of his shot gun, rifle and gold watch, respectively. The will is witnessed by my grandmother, Grace Eva MacDonald, who was then Rupert's fiancée, and Kate Harries. Charles Harries acted as solicitor in obtaining probate. Thus the whole business was transacted through a network of family

18. These details appear from a document filed in the probate proceedings.