Thomas Brown (Western Australian politician)

Thomas Brown (Western Australian politician)

Thomas Brown (1803 – 5 July 1863) was an early settler in colonial Western Australia, and a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council.

Thomas Brown was born in England in 1803. Little is known of his life in England, except that he married Eliza Bussey in 1836, and by 1840 he was living in Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire and working as a road surveyor. He was reasonably well off financially by then, having an interest in the rental of a turnpike, and some rental property in the district.

In November 1840, Brown and his family emigrated to Western Australia, arriving on the "Sterling" in March 1841. On arrival at the Swan River Colony, Brown went immediately to York, where he purchased "Grass Dale" from Revett Henry Bland. Brown purchased ewes for the property, and began selecting horses for breeding. In July 1841 he accepted a position as assistant government surveyor, but the work took him away from his property too much, and he resigned in January 1842. He became active in the York Agricultural Society, being its president during 1843. In November 1844 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

Brown worked at "Grass Dale" until 1852, during which time he had great success in the development of his land and stock, but little success financially. By the end of that period, the property was in debt by over £2000. In 1850, Brown decided to seek better land. Together with his son Kenneth, he joined a party of eight in exploring overland from York to the Champion Bay district. The party travelled 300 miles (480 km) and found large tracts of apparently good land. Brown selected 40,000 acres (160 km²) on the Greenough River, and the following year established a homestead there, which he called "Glengarry".

Although Brown leased out "Grass Dale" and established a homestead at "Glengarry", his intention of living at "Glengarry" did not eventuate. Late in 1850, shortly before his intended relocation to "Glengarry", Brown was nominated to the Legislative Council, a position which required him to be in Perth. As Brown was committed to moving to Champion Bay, he stated his intention to decline the nomination, but was persuaded by the Governor of Western Australia, Captain Charles Fitzgerald to sit for the remainder of the session.

Brown became involved in controversy almost as soon as he took his seat. In the Governor's address to the new Legislative Council, Fitzgerald stated that he considered the new Members, Brown, Marshall Clifton and Lionel Samson, to represent their districts. This statement was then misreported by "The Perth Gazette" as having been said by the men themselves. As none of the men were elected representatives, this greatly angered the colony's many supporters of responsible government, and the York settlers published a declaration denying that Brown represented them, or indeed that he had any political influence in the district. Shortly afterwards, Brown published a dignified letter stating that he had never considered himself to be a representative of any particular class or district, then resigned his seat.

Once again Brown prepared to relocate to Glengarry, but in October 1851 he was appointed acting Police Magistrate in Fremantle, during the absence of Thomas Yule. Brown accepted the position and moved his family to Fremantle, leaving "Glengarry" in the hands of his eldest son Kenneth. He was appointed Resident Magistrate for Fremantle the following year, and from 1856 was also Perth's Collector of Customs.

In October 1862, Brown was transferred to the position of Resident Magistrate at Geraldton. He held the position until his death the following June. Early in June 1863, Brown suffered a series of heart attacks, and he died on 5 June. He was buried two days later in the old Geraldton cemetery.

Among Thomas Brown's seven children were Kenneth, Maitland and Matilda, who married Samuel Hamersley. Edith Cowan was his granddaughter.


*Black and Bolton 2001
*cite book|author=Cowan, Peter|year=1988|title=Maitland Brown: A View of Nineteenth Century Western Australia|location=Fremantle, Western Australia | publisher=Fremantle Arts Centre Press|id=ISBN 0-949206-27-X

NAME= Brown, Thomas
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council
PLACE OF BIRTH=United Kingdom
DATE OF DEATH=5 July 1863

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