Capt. John Brabyn

Soldier and Magistrate

 

John BRABYN (1758-1835), Soldier - Captain of the NSW Veteran Company, the son of John Brabyn and Joanna Brabyn née JAGO, was born at Pelynt, Cornwall, England on Sunday 6th August 1758. He married Mary Allyn in 1782, the marriage producing two children: John Frederick (c. 1794-1806) and Jennyfer Ann (c. 1795-1871). He married for a second time to Sarah Denison at St. Phillip's Church, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on Thursday 14th October 1802 (The minister who officiated was Rev. Samuel Marsden, in the presence of Ralph and Margaret Wilson.), the marriage producing two children: Mary Louisa (1803-1884) and Elizabeth Howard (1805-1881). He died at "York Lodge", George St., Windsor, New South Wales, Australia on Saturday 1st August 1835 (NSW State Archives Entry 2465 Volume 19) and was buried at St. Matthew's churchyard, Windsor, New South Wales, Australia on Tuesday 4th August 1835 (The ceremony was performed by Rev. Henry T. Stiles.).

Memorable Events:

Travel, Arrived International Arrival of the "Marquis Cornwallis" at Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia on Thursday 11th February 1796 (He commanded the military guard on this convict ship.)

Personal History:

     John Brabyn was born in Cornwall, England in 1759. According to family tradition, he was the younger of two sons, and lived on a small farm with his widowed mother. One day, while visiting the local market town, John's brother was picked up by a recruiting sergeant and signed on to serve in the army. When his mother found out, she went to see the recruiting officer and requested her son's release, as she depended on him to run the farm, and offerred John in his place.

     John Brabyn entered the army in 1778 "...and was on the Continent afrom the commencement of the war with your Excellency (i.e. Sir Thomas Brisbane) until 6th May 1795 on which day His Royal Highness presented him with a Commission for the New South Wales Corps, which he immediately joined."1

     As his army service record is yet to be researched, the years before the granting of his commission is largely a mystery.7 He married Mary (surname unknown) and had a son John Frederick (born 1787) and a daughter Jennifer Ann (born 1794). It seems that he was a recruiting sergeant at the time of his joining the officer ranks as an ensign.

     He sailed from Ireland later that year in command of the military guard in the "Marquis Cornwallis". On the voyage, the master dealt severely with an attempt by Irish convicts, aided by their guards, take over the ship - with little help from Brabyn.

     Built in India in 1789, she was owned by Hogan & Co., so that her master, Michael Hogan, was presumably a part owner. Having embarked 163 male convicts and 70 female convicts, she sailed from Cork on 9th August 1796. Her guard, a detachment of the New South Wales Corps with Ensign William More second in command to Brabyn, proved unreliable and mutinous, as with so many other detachments of the corps. When the guard embarked at Portsmouth before the "Marquis Cornwallis" sailed for Cork, the officer who conducted the detachment from Chatham reported that the men were very mutinous and the worst among them was Sergeant Ellis. Despite this warning, however, Ensign Brabyn took no special precautions.

     On 9th September 1795, when the "Marquis Cornwallis" had been a month at sea, her master received a note from the prison that two prisoners wished to see him. He interviewed them the next morning. They disclosed that a plot to seize the ship had been formed by the prisoners and some of the soldiers, and named Sergeant Ellis as the ringleader, asserting that he had undertaken to furnish the convicts with knives so that they might rid themselves of their irons.

     Hogan, having returned the informers to the prison, asked Brabyn to inspect the soldiers' kits. The guard's commander disclosed that at the beginning of the voyage he had issued four knives to Ellis, and that the previous day, as Ellis had claimed to have lost these, he had handed him a further two. All six knives were found when Ellis's baggage was examined. Two days later, on 12th September, the gunner heard Ellis using inflamatory and mutinous language to the other soldiers, particularly the sentinels at the prison door. He had been telling them that they were much worse off than the convicts, since while the latter were being transported for seven years, they were being sent out for life.

     Brabyn, however, refused to take any action against Ellis, presumably fearing that if he did so, the whole detachment might mutiny, but had he acted with promptitude and determination the tragedy that followed might have been avoided. In view of his attitude Hogan could do no more than add a seaman to the two military sentinels at the prison door and to warn his officers and men to be constantly on guard.

     Another prisoner turned informer. He substantiated the earlier disclosure of a plot between Ellis and the convicts, and added that the women prisoners were to convey knives into the prison and to put pounded glass into the crew's food. Hogan instructed the informer to gain further information regarding the plot, and sent him back to the prison. About this time it was discovered that Ellis had spiked the touchholes of six muskets and had disabled two pistols he had been given to clean by one of the officers, but Brabyn still refused to act.

     The prisoners plan was to seize the master when he was making one of his weekly inspections of the prison. he was accompanied on these visits by some of his officers and by one of the surgeons, either Matthew Austin, who had been appointed by the government, or John Hogan, the ship's doctor. They were to be killed with their own swords. At the same time as the rising in the prison, Ellis and his fellow conspirators among the soldiers were to attack the officers remaining on deck an be ready to serve out arms to the convicts as they ran up from below.

     Hogan, however, decided to forestall this plan. He took the opinion of all the officers, and as they supported his decision to immediately punish the conspirators, he gave orders for their apprehension. It is interesting that this action was not instituted by Brabyn, who as commander of the guard was responsible for the security of the prisoners, but, possibly because of inexperience, his conduct throughout was weak and pusillanimous. Forty two of the male convicts were flogged and six of the women prisoners punished, while Ellis was confined to the poop  and his head shaven. He was then handcuffed, thumb-screwed, and leg-bolted to one of his supporters, Private Lawrence Gaffney, and the two men transferred to the prison.

     The prisoners, realising that their plans had gone astray, strangled one of the informers on 22nd September and, swarming round the fore hatchway, attempted to smash down the barriers and force their way on deck. Hogan and his officers, each armed with a pair of pistols and a cutlass, took up positions at the prison door, fired into the milling prisoners and eventually drove them back. No convict was killed outright in the fracas, but several were badly wounded and seven later died of their wounds. Nine days later Ellis, still ironed to Gaffney, also died, possibly having been wounded during the indescriminate firing.

     The prisoners gave no further trouble, and having called at St. Helena and the Cape of Good Hope, the "Marquis Cornwallis" arrived at Port Jackson on 11th February 1796, after a passage of 186 days from Cork. There had been 11 deaths among her prisoners, including the seven men who had died from gunshot wounds. Surgeon Austin certified that Hogan had paid due attention to the health of both convicts and soldiers, and a magisterial inquiry exonerated him of having employed undue harshness. The magistrates reported that his actions had been justified by the necessity of ensuring the ship's safety and of protecting the lives of those aboard, and added that he had not improperly interfered with the military guard.

     After the inquiry was completed, Brabyn was posted to Norfolk Island. As Norfolk Island was not considered an upward career move, his posting there could be taken as a reflection of the evaluation made by the authorities on Brabyn's action during the mutiny.

     The Brabyns  sailed for Norfolk Island in the "Supply" after spending about six weeks in Port Jackson, and they spent the next 5 years there. Unfortunately, barely a week after their arrival on the island, his wife Mary died on the 29th April 1796, and is buried there. The two children played with the children of the commandant, Lieutenant King. He was granted a lease of 19 acres on the island in October 1796 which he cultivated with some success. He also performed useful service as a trader, though not in rum. He was promoted to lieutenant on 15th August 1800, and soon afterwards returned to Sydney.

     In September 1801, he was one of the four officers who examined John Macarthur's pistols before his duel with William Patterson; they discovered defects which were thought to justify Macarthur's extraordinary action in loading them himself when the duel took place. Despite Brabyn's part in this affair, next month he was granted 200 acres by Governor King. On 14th October 1802 he married Sarah Dennison the widow of a free settler who had died on the voyage out from England. The celebrant was the Rev. Samuel Marsden. Next year (1803) he was stationed at Parramatta, where he bought more land, and in March 1804 he won praise from Governor King for helping to quell the Irish convict uprising.

     In 1804 the prisoners at the Castle Hill gaol near Parramatta successfully escaped en masse one night. They marched towards the Hawkesbury area, their plan being to gather assigned convicts and discontented small farmers along the way, liberate the prisoners from the Government farm on the Hawkesbury and return to take Sydney with an army of two thousand men. Thay aimed to seize the ships in the port and flee to Ireland from whence most had come. They were sworn to "Death or Liberty". They were attacked by the fore-warned military and were too poorly armed to match the firepower of the soldiers. Major Johnston's troops attacked the men on Vinegar Hill, only eleven kilometers from the Castle Hill prison, killing many of the rebels and suppressing the uprising. Brabyn led a contingent from Parramatta towards the Hakesbury and encountered only a little resistance. He took a few prisoners and some weaponry: muskets, pistols, ammunition, swords, pikes and pitch forks. He was praised by Governor King for duty well done.

     After his return to Sydney, Brabyn played an important part in the events leading up to the deposition of Governor Bligh in January 1808, for he was a member of the court whose actions at the trial of John Macarthur precipitated the governor's "arrest" by the military.

     Macarthur, the most powerful and arrogant of the officers, though by that time he had retired from  military service, was on trial for sedition in refusing to pay a fine. When Macarthur refused to be tried and the six members of the court bench, including Brabyn, supported him, Governor Bligh was furious and declared he would gaol them all. In consequence, between Macarthur, the six officers, and Major Johnston, a plot was launced and a military coup carried out on 26th January 1808, known as the "Rum Rebellion". Bligh was imprisoned, Johnston declared himself Governor and Macarthur Colonial Secretary. The officers made huge land grants to each other, and most of the civilian positions passed into the hands of the military. That Brabyn played only a supporting role is evident in that he received no land and no immediate position.

     By continuing to side with Macarthur after the "rebellion", he incurred the wrath of Major Johnston, but in November 1808, when an officer was needed at Port Dalrymple, Brabyn, whose promotion to captain had been gazetted in February, was sent to take charge there. Although Patterson thought his discipline too severe, Brabyn carefully obeyed his instructions, pressed on with government buildings, and proved to be one of the best of a poor lot of commandants at Port Dalrymple. 2

     A letter written by Captain John Brabyn to Patterson on February 18, 1809, gives a vivid picture of the building activities at Launceston.6

     "When I arrived at Launceston, which was on the 20th December, I expected to have found the granary 3 nearly completed; but the carpenters had been standing still for want of Stuff; notwithstanding my Agreement with Monday he never Cut one inch to this minute; that shuffling fellow Kirk is sometimes sick, sometimes well; Lyons the same, Paxman the same; so that the Granary is but just covered in, and not more than 1/4 floored. As to my Barrack 4 I know not when I shall begin it. I have got Wright and Paxman to cut a few days to make a beginning. I shall pay as much as possible of the Expenses of my Barracks, and will be glad to take steers to work for it; finding that Bricks were wanted for many uses, I agreed with Thomas Phillips and Robert Beams to make me 30,000, for which I am to pay them 6 Ewes, which will bring the price of Bricks very low; with these I must build Chimneys to the Barracks, to my House, &c. I have enclosed the Store with palings, for which I pay in Shirts, Frocks, &c., from the (blank in original) at a good price."

     He had also built a timber carriage and had put a good safe (store?) behind Government House 5, "which Improves it very much and I have wrought many hard hours at it". There had been a prolonged drought, accompanied by some bushfires.

     "I am making a Stock Yard for the breeding Ewes on Mr. Hill's side. It would be a good thing for Government if I could make a paddock from the corner of Government Garden Gate to the corner of the Government Wheat Ground, and from thence to the bite of the River below the islands...".

     "As soon as the bricks are Ready, I will put a fireplace to the Barracks and board iy up to make it Comfortable for the Men."

     He hoped that the first ship will bring him "Carpenters, Brickmakers, Smiths and Labourers, and some Women, with Iron, Steel, Nails, Iron Pots etcetera". He was in urgent need of a plough, as he had none. Captain Kemp's barn with all the grain had been burnt. He had repaired the house over the water for James Hill, who was living in it, but Hill wanted it to be shingled, glazed and floored as well. Brabyn did not propose to undertake this task without orders.

     While he was in Launceston, he was granted 100 acres on the South Esk River by Col. Patterson on 9th. May 1809. Whether this grant was annulled following the appointment of Governor Macquarie, or if he otherwise disposed of it, or he actually farmed it, is unknown.

     He was replaced as commandant and administrator of the county of Cornwall in January 1810 by Major Gordon of the 73rd Regiment, and he returned to Sydney.

     Although more deeply involved in Bligh's deposition than many other officers, he was permitted to sail in the "Admiral Gambier" in May 1811, on the eve of Johnston's trial, with Lawson and Bell (who were in a similar position) to join the newly formed New South Wales Veteran Company. He returned to Sydney on the "Guildford" on 18th January 1812 in command of the Veteran Company.

     He had to return to England again in 1915 when his private agent, Mr. W. Thompson, failed, necessitating Brabyn's return to settle his private affairs. He complained of "the hardships of being kept in service for so many years after all other veterans had been disbanded ... and the officers allowed to retire and enjoy the benefit of their service".

     In March 1816 he expressed this wish to become a free settler and Governor Macquarie granted Mrs. Brabyn 500 acres at Evan (perhaps because her first husband had perished on his way to settle in the colony). The War office would not allow him to sell his commission, but as a perquisite the commander-in-chief reccommended him for a grant. He returned to Sydney in the "Larkins" on 22nd November 1817 after a direct passage of 125 days from Portsmouth, in command of the guard, with permission to receive the usual indulgences as a settler. It would seem that he became an industrious farmer on a 300 acre farm that he owned at Windsor, mainly raising cattle. This farm was the result of 2 grants - one in December 1801 by Governor King of 200 acres, and another grant of 100 acres by Col. Patterson in 1802.

     In 1819 he was granted 1200 acres at Prospect "which is very ill- watered and too sterrel (sic) for cultivation in consequence of which he was induced to sell it to enable him to carry into effect the improvement of his present farm of 300 acres, which is now considerable insufficient to keep his cattle."8

     In 1819, Brabyn succeeded in obtaining a government contract for the building of the Wilberforce schoolhouse. The work was completed in 1820 and Brabyn was paid in two installments - 200 pounds on 30th September 1819 and the balance of 85 pounds 16/1 on 27th May 1820. The building was used as a school until a new government school was built in 1880, and it since has been used as a Sunday School and parish office.9 The Veteran Company was disbanded on 24th September 1823, and Brabyn was allowed to retire on full pay.

     The following year, Brabyn sent a memorial to Governor Brisbane requesting a further land grant, elaborating on his difficulties, and claimed that the previous grant of 1200 acres was unsuitable for agricultural purposes and was some 20 miles from his residence. He was forced to sell the land together with the grant that had been made to his wife, so as to improve his own farm on which he had spent 2000 pounds. But he was unable to run all his stock on 300 acres and "... will be obliged to sell off the greater part of his stock as well as to shorten his agricultural pursuits."

     In June 1824, Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane granted John Brabyn 800 acres of land "on the West side of Falbrook in the district of the Hunter Valley" in the Patrick Plains Shire, Land District of Singleton County of Durham, in the parish of Vane. In 1831 he gave this land to his grandson Frederick Charles Gaggin, to be held in trust by George Paignand and Charles Simeon Marsden until his grandson reached the age of 21 years. Part of this property is (in 1990) in the hands of a great great grandson, John Shadlow. This grant, and its gift to Frederick Charles Gaggin was kept secret from his daughter Jennifer Mills, and she was unaware of the notice in the N.S.W. Government Gazette on 1st August 1839 "...calling upon representatives of the late John Brabyn to show or prove who is now entitled to the deed of grant." The grant was uncontested, and the land passed into the hands of Frederick Gaggin.

     He had been appointed to the bench at Windsor in January 1818 and in 1824 reported favourably on the working of trial by jury in courts of sessions. He was one of the founders and keen supporters of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society, a trustee of the Windsor Charitable Institution, vice-president of the Windsor Bible Association and on the committee of the Agricultural Society. He resigned from the Magistracy in 1829 and died at his home "York Lodge" at Windsor on 1st August 1835. He also rented pew no. 2 at St. Matthew's Church.

     The death notice which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 3rd August 1835 gave his date of death as 31st July 1835. However, Brabyn's will is dated 1st August 1835, and it is claimed that he dictated it while he was dying. This caused some family members to be suspicious of the validity of the will. York Lodge and the land were to be held in trust for the use of his wife Sarah, and after her death were to pass to her granddaughter Sarah Goggin. His wife was also to have the use of any stock or furniture which she might require. The rest was to be sold and the proceeds divided equally between his three daughters. This resulted in his eldest daughter Jennifer (by his first marriage) getting short shrift - her share of the inheritance was the silver cutlery set which her parents had brought with them to the colony of New South Wales in 1796.

Places and Items of Interest:

1. His gravestone at St. Matthew's Church, Windsor, N.S.W. bears the following inscription:

SACRED

To THE MEMORY of

CAP'tn JOHN BRABYN

Who Departed this Life on the 1st Day of

Aug't 1835 Aged 76 Years

His late years were principally devoted

to the interest of the poor of the Surrounding

Districts and in whom they have lost

a kind Benefactor and his family an

Affectionate Husband and Parent

 

2. The servants quarters (though with some later additions) and the stables at York Lodge at Windsor still exist, thought the house is no longer there.

 

3. The old schoolhouse at Wilberforce that he built under government contract in 1819-1820.

 

4. His sword is in the possession of Betty Grace MsGrath, his great-great-great-great granddaughter.

Reference Material:

1. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, 1788-1850, Melbourne University Press, Douglas Pike General Editor.

 

2. The Convict Ships 1787-1868, Charles Bateson, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983. 

 

3. The Story of Port Dalrymple, Llewelyn Slingsby Bethell,  Blubber Head Press, Hobart, 1980

 

4. John Brabyn and his Family, Rhonda McLure, privately published for the Brabyn Muster, Yarrawood Convention Centre, 30th January, 1983.

 

 5. John Brabyn's Memorial to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane,  22nd December 1822.

 

6. Why Should Their Honour Fade?, Olive Mills, Hawthorn Press,  Melbourne, 1960.

 

7. The Mills Brothers of Port Fairy, Alan Broughton, privately  published in Melbourne in 1980.

 

8. Biographical details researched by John Brian Marsden,  30 May 1992. 

 - according to J. T. Ryan, in his book of reminiscences, " was an infamous taskmaster and tyrant ".  ( reference: series of five newspaper articles, " Chaplain Samuel Marsden and his Five Famous Daughters ", by G. Reeve, in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, N.S.W., 13 July to 24 August 1928 ). 

 

 - from the Australian Biographical Directory, the following: 

     " Brabyn, John ( 1759?-1835 ), military officer and settler. entered the army in 1778 and seems to have become a recruiting sergeant before he was appointed an ensign in the New South Wales Corps on 6 May 1795.  He sailed from Ireland next year in command of the military guard in the " Marquis Cornwallis ". On the voyage he dealt severely with an attempt by irish convicts, aided by their guards, to take the ship.  After he arrived at Port Jackson he was posted to Norfolk Island, here he was granted a lease of nineteen acres in October 1796 and performed useful service as a trader, though not in rum. He was promoted lieutenant on 15 August 1800 and soon afterwards  returned to Sydney.  In September 1801 he was one of the four officers who examined John Macarthur's pistols before his duel with William Paterson; they discovered defects which were thought to justify Macarthur's extraordinary action in loading them himself when the duel took place.  Despite Brabyn's part in this affair, next month he was granted 200 acres by Governor King.  On 14 October 1802 he married Sarah Denison, the widow of a free settler.  Next year he was stationed at Parramatta, where he bought more land, and in March 1804 he won praise from King for helping to quell the irish convict rising.

      After his return to Sydney, Brabyn played an important part in events leading to the deposition of Governor Bligh in January 1808, for he was a member of the court whose actions at the trial of John Macarthur precipitated the governor's  "arrest" by the military. By continuing to side with Macarthur after the "rebellion", he incurred the wrath of Major Johnston, but in November 1808 when an officer was needed at Port Dalrymple, Brabyn, whose promotion to captain had been gazetted in February, was sent to take charge there. Although Paterson thought his discipline too severe, Brabyn carefully obeyed his instructions, pressed on with government buildings, and proved  to be one of the best of a poor lot of commandants at Port Dalrymple.  He was replaced by Major Gordon in January 1810 and returned to England with the 102nd regiment. 

     Although more deeply involved in Bligh's deposition than many other officers he was permitted to sail in the " Admiral Gambier", in May 1811, on the eve of Johnston's trial, with Lawson and Bell who were in a similar position, to join the newly formed New South Wales Veteran Company.  In March 1816 he expressed the wish to become a settler and Macquarie granted Mrs. Brabyn 500 acres at Evan. Brabyn himself went to England. The war office would not allow him to sell his commission, bu  as a prerequisite the commander-in-chief promised to recommend him for a grant. He returned in the " Larkins " in command o  the guard, with permission to receive the usual indulgences as  a settler. In 1819 he took up a grant of 1200 acres at Prospect and became an industrious farmer. Not until 1824 was he allowed to retire from the Veterans, but then did so on full pay.  He had been appointed to the bench at Windsor in January 1818 and in 1824 reported favourably on the working of trial by jury in courts of sessions. 

     He was one of the founders and keen supporters of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society, a trustee of the Windsor Charitable Institution, vice-president of the Windsor Bible Association and on the committee of the Agricultural Society. He resigned from the magistracy in 1829 and died at his home, York Lodge, in Windsor on 1 August 1835. 

     In 1845 his widow complained to Governor Gipps that her pension of £50 had been stopped in order to satisfy a claim for six cows lent by the government to her husband in 1811; in a generous moment the Colonial Office ordered that her pension be fully paid. One of Brabyn's daughters married a son of Samuel Marsden; another, by a former marriage, married Peter Mills at Launceston. 

HRNSW, 3-7; HRA (1), 1-13,24,(3),1,(4),1.  ". 

 

9. "The Life and Times of JOHN BRABYN of the New South Wales Corps and his extended family", by Betty McGrath, privately published.  ISBN No. 0 646 25116 3.

...the definitive work on John Brabyn.

 

10. The Downes Brothers - Wren Boys from County Clare (http://www.tip.net.au/~pdownes/dps/downes.htm)

On arrival in Sydney the friends were split up. Michael was assigned to Captain John Brabyn at Clifton Cottage, Richmond.10 (Clifton farm is now part of the RAAF base, Richmond). Captain Brabyn, formerly of the New South Wales Corps and recently of the Veterans' Company, had much experience with Irish convicts and a reputation for severity. He had been in command of the guard on board the Marquis Cornwallis in 1796 when the Irish convicts and some of the guard tried to take over the ship; and he was also at Castle Hill in 1804 against the Irish convict uprising. But by the time Michael arrived that was all behind him; Brabyn had retired from the army and was a magistrate on the Windsor bench and a prominent member of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society, becoming president in 1829.

 

It seems Michael did not stay long in Captain Brabyn's personal service, but was probably despatched to the Hunter Valley to work for Brabyn's Irish son-in-law John Gaggin. Gaggin, a clerk in the Commissariat, had a 2000-acre grant at Luskintyre, between Singleton and Maitland, and he was also superintendent of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society's herd of cattle at Mooki, west of the Hunter, from 1827 to 1832. As a magistrate Brabyn could control the assignment and movement of convicts, and it is likely that he sent Michael, a farm servant, to the Hunter, where the settlers were crying out for labourers, or perhaps to Mooki with the Benevolent Society's cattle. Also, as an Irish speaker, at this time Michael's command of the English language was probably restricted, and he would have been more useful with Gaggin's Irish overseer than in Brabyn's mostly English household.

 

Captain Brabyn also had a property called "Sydenham" near Singleton in the Hunter Valley, which he gave to the Gaggins in trust for his grandchild Frederick Gaggin. In 1832 John Gaggin lost his Luskintyre property and went to live at Sydenham. Michael possibly moved to Sydenham, either with the Gaggin family or earlier, because his Ticket of Leave, issued on 1 May 1832, confined him to the district of Patricks Plains, the old name for Singleton.

 

Top (of this page)

 

More Brabyn Achievers

 

Home Page

 

Prepared by Bob Dalrymple, PO Box 122, Dapto, NSW Australia 2350

eMail: bob@relativelyyours.com

 



                1Brabyn's Memorial to Governor Brisbane 22nd December 1822. This may indicate that Brabyn served in the same regiment as Brisbane. This was the 38th Regiment, which was in Flanders from 1793 to 1798.

                7Certain family legends exist about his life in this period, but no credence can be placed upon them without further information. One such legend has his wife Mary a lady of the Spanish Court, but no proof exists. Another legend detailing an association with the Duke of York, is reported by Olive Mills in her book "Why Should Their Honour Fade?" Here he is said to have saved the life of the Duke of York. By virtue of his size and strength, was a member of the Duke's personal guard. When the Duke's horse was shot from underneath him on the battle field Brabyn rode past and lifted the Duke onto his own horse and carried him to safety. Olive Mills claims that "In return for his service, the Duke promised him that his son, who was born on the field of battle in Flanders, should, on coming of age, receive a commission in the army." If this is so, then he failed to keep his word, for his son John Frederick Brabyn joined the H.M.S. Lady Nelson in 1801 as a "Boy, 1st. Class". A sword that was Brabyn's, and was in the possession of the  family for many years (until stolen), bore the Royal Coat of Arms, and gave rise to the legend that this was presented to him by the Duke. This may well be so, but it could also be that the Royal Coat of Arms was commonly attached to military arms and regalia. The family stories have him visiting the Duke of York on his visits to England (he went in 1811 and 1815), and the Duke was said to have interceded on his behalf - but since Brabyn failed in his objective to get out of the army, his influence seems negligible in an area where royal patronage would be likely to carry weight. Brabyn's residence in Windsor, "York Lodge", may well have been named to perpetuate a connection with the Duke of York, but there is no such dedication in existence today.

                2Launceston was ill-served by its commandants - Patterson (102nd) Brabyn (102nd), Gordon (73rd), Ritchie (73rd), Mackenzie (46th), Stewart (46th) and Cimitiere (46th). "With the exception of the last (though Cimitiere was "dilatory"), all were markedly ineffectual as administrators or commandants", according to Llewleyn Slingsby Bethell in "The Story of Port Dalrymple" (1980). Brabyn "might quarrel with his officers" and not take significant action without specific authority but "seems to have done his best during little more than a year".

                6Historical Records of Australia, III, 1., 694-697.

                3The granary to which Brabyn alludes was probably on the site of the present military barracks in St. John Street. The present block, housing the principal military officers in the north, was built in the reign of George IV, in the late eighteen-twenties.

                4It is not known exactly where Captain Brabyn built the first barracks. As far as is known, they were in the area now taken in by Royal Park, and occupied the site known as Soldier's Point. This building was used by the rank and file, and the officer's quarters (not built till after Brabyn's time) were a row of brick cottages, facing what is now the entrance of Barrow Street into Wellington Street. Doubt arises about the original site of the barracks, because Sorrell reported in August, 1818 that the troops had set fire to them.

                5Government House (or Government Cottage) stood near the corner now bounded by Lawrence and Brisbane Streets, near the present site of the of the Sebastapol cannon in City Park.

                8Brabyn's Second Memorial to Governor Brisbane, 1824.

                9The History of the Macquarie Schoolhouse 1820 and St. John's Church 1859, Marjorie Wymark.