Brown, James

Full name:

Brown, James

Dates recorded for being in Berrima:

1840 - ??

Occupation if known and land ownership:

Poundkeeper until 1841



Brown, James

A James Brown is listed as being in Berrima on the 1841 Census but given the number of men with this name in the colony at this period it is difficult to be sure of his origins.

In the Brown household were two men, one between 21 and 45 years and one over 45, one having gained his freedom the other holding a ticket of leave. Both entered their occupation as mechanics (tradesmen). With them was a married woman, also free, and as she was aged over 45, it is likely she was the wife of the older man. All were Catholic.

One James Brown who was in Berrima at the right time was the poundkeeper who, an entry in the NSW Government Gazette states, left the position a month after the census was taken.[1] On the Census he is listed as living on Argyle Street and his entry is between those of James Harper and Hyam Phillips corresponds to the position of the animal pound.

While this supports who James Brown was in 1841, linking the man to his past and future is more difficult.

If we make the assumption that it is the older couple who were married and both had come to the colony as convicts the records of convicts seeking permission to marry may hold a clue.

On these records only one couple were born before 1797, i.e. both would have been over 45 years in 1841: James Brown and Francis Osburn(e) who were married in Windsor in 1826.[2] At the time they were both still bonded. There is convict assignment record for a James Brown at Windsor and a confirmation record that this man came via the Canada.[3] But, to complicate matters the Canada brought two James Browns to Sydney, one in 1815 on the Canada (3) and one on the Canada (5) n 1819:

  • 1815 transport – sentenced to 14 years and according to one website convicted at Cavan County, Ireland. [4] Sometimes referred to as ‘Thomas’ Brown
  • 1819 transport – sentenced to 7 years and according to his certificate of freedom, dated 1826, a farmer from Middlesex near London.[5] This James Brown was convicted for stealing lead.[6]

The latter, however, married the recently arrived Susannah Harris in 1830 who was only 18 (16) years old at the time.[7]

So, we are back with the 1816 arrival who received his conditional pardon in 1826, the same year he was married. His wife, Francis Osburn(e), who at 39, was two years his senior. The 1825 Muster confirms a Francis Osburn as being on the recently arrived convict ship, Mariner, and her certificate of freedom, obtained in 1832, confirms she arrived under the alias of Frances O’Connell.[8]

This identification should be treated with caution.

There are more complications later as two James Browns are recorded as dying in Berrima, one in 1860 and one in 1866.[9]

  • The death in 1860 was of a 77-year-old – date of birth 1787 and therefore aged around 58 yrs in 1841, and
  • The death in 1866 was of a 70-year-old – date of birth 1796 and therefore around 45yrs in 1841.

Given the date of birth the former is the more likely James Brown in Berrima in 1841 ….. if indeed he stayed in the township after resigning as poundkeeper!!

[1] NSW Government Gazette, April 9 1841

[2] SRNSW NRS 12212 [4/4508]; Fiche 780

[3] SRNSWNRS 12194 [4/4521 p.057]; Reel 586; Fiche 747-748


[5]  SRNSW Register of Certificates of Freedom: NRS 12208; Archive Roll: 602


[7] SRNSW Returns of Applications for the Publication of Banns, 1828-41: NRS 905; Reel: 3035

[8] Convict Index [4/4305; Reel 987]

[9] NSW BDM Register nos 3281/1866 and 3145/1860