Three years after South Australia was proclaimed a colony in 1836 Michael Brooker, his wife and eight of his ten children arrived in Adelaide from England. Within four months of his arrival, in late 1839, Michael Brooker had died from the deadly typhus disease and his family were destitute. His wife Hannah Curd was left to look after the children. She was to later remarry for a short time and she died in 1891 in Melbourne at the age of 91 years.
Parish Clerk Michael Brooker had a great great grandson, also named Michael who was born on February 27th, 1795, the fifth child in a family of twelve to Richard Brooker and his wife Elizabeth. Michael, who worked as a sawyer, decided at the age of 44 to break ties with Framfield where his family had lived for so many years and emigrate to South Australia.
The register of applications by laborers for free passages to South Australia, gives the following information -:
Unlike the Colony of NSW, the new Colony of South Australia was to be colonized using free
settlers, and to attract laborers and skilled tradesmen from England a fund was
set up by the Government to provide
free passage for these people. Purchasers of land had to contribute 20 Pounds
towards the fund.
Strict conditions were applied as to who would be eligible for free passage.
Emigrant laborers would be offered a free passage to the Colony, including provisions and every expense for the journey, providing they were of sane mind, honest, sober, industrious, and of general good character.
Married emigrants were preferred and were to be not less than 15 and not more than 30 years of age.
As Michael Brooker was 42 years old he and his family must
have been a special case.
The Brooker Family departed from London on the "Cleveland" a barque of 490 tons, under the command of Captain William Marley, leaving the Downs on the 25th July, 1839 and Plymouth on the 8th August, 1839. The vessel carried 180 emigrants plus six cabin passengers and arrived in Adelaide on the 18th December, 1839.
official manifest for the "Cleveland" has the
following entries -:
The index of deaths in South Australia, 1802-1842, reveals that Michael Brooker died four months after arriving in Adelaide.
It is possible he died from typhus, as there was an epidemic of typhus fever in Adelaide at that time.
The burial register of Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide, entry 437, records that Michael Brooker of Hindmarsh was buried on the 9th April, 1840 aged 45 at the Public Cemetery, Adelaide.
The burial records at Holy Trinity show additional burials in the plot, which is situated in the West Terrace Cemetery as follows -:
26/11/1894. Arthur Bennett Clifford, 14
years 4 months,
High Street, Kensington.
5/6/1901. James Clifford. 49 years,
Home for Incurables.
12/7/1918. George Brown (took 99 year
lease in 1891),
17/2/1939. Thirza Maria Brown, 80
Florence Street, Woodville.
7/12/1966. Florence Brown, 76 years,
Florence Street, Woodville.
The headstone actually reads as follows -:
In loving memory
Loving husband of
Died July 11th 1918.
Thirsa M. Brown.
Feb. 16th 1839.
Aged 80 years.
George Brown who purchased the 99 year lease in 1891 was the grandson of Michael Brooker. He was born 27th July 1857 to Harriet Brooker and John Brown.
The situation in South Australia in 1841 at the time of Michael's death would have been extremely difficult for a widow with so many children. The Government had sold 299,000 acres of land at 12 shillings an acre, but only 2,500 acres were under cultivation. The total population was 15,485 people, which included 12,000 assisted migrants many of whom were unsuited for a pioneering venture.
The Government returns at the time, 1839, noted on the Brooker family -:
The family recovered from sickness but on the 8th April the husband died. On inquiry into their circumstances, it was found they were unable to bear the funeral expenses and he was subsequently buried by this department. The wife was left with nine children, six of whom with herself are now entirely dependent on this department for subsistence, which they receive weekly. They are also placed in one of the oldest houses. The mother earns a little money by washing, but not more than sufficient for the wants of young and growing family. The son a boy is in employment, one daughter resides with the mother and the other is an improper character and has left her home.
The 1841 Census for Adelaide shows the following entry for Currie Street, Adelaide.
One Female under 50. Presume Hannah
One Male under 21. Presume John.
Two Males under 7. Presume Samuel and Eli.
Three Females under 14. Presume Harriet, Caroline & Elizabeth.
One Female under 7. Presume Hannah junior.
Mary was not shown as she had married Edward Barnes on December 12th, 1840.
Martha is also not shown as residing with the family, as she had married William Best on December 18th, 1840. She was also a witness at Marys wedding in 1840.
Hannah Brooker, after the death of Michael, married John Viant, who was a widower on June 18th, 1843 at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide. His occupation was described as laborer.
John was born in Plymouth, England and he married Ann Polkinghorn on March 4th, 1826, in Redruth, Cornwell, where he worked as a miner and where their three children, Thomas James, John Edward and Elizabeth Ann were born.
They arrived in Adelaide on the Waterloo in 1840, the year John applied to immigrate to South Australia. Their application for passage to South Australia stated that John was 30 years of age whilst the sons were aged 12 years and 4 years and the daughter aged 10 months.
Ann and John were living in the Pirie Street end of Hindmarsh Square in April 1843, when Ann died during childbirth. A Colonial Grant was provided to bury Ann.
After he married Hannah Brooker, it appears by June 1847, he had accumulated sufficient funds to purchase land at Gawlertown, now known as Gawler, which is 42 Km from Adelaide.
The marriage had broken up by February 1849 because at that time John was living at Kooringa (Burra) with Caroline Shugwin. A child was stillborn to them on February 15th 1849. Another boy was stillborn on February 15th 1850. Another son was born on July 4th, 1852 but died at 6 weeks of age.
John Viant and Caroline Shugwin were married on February 28th, 1855 at Kooringa. During the goldrush times, they searched for their fortune near Bendigo in Victoria for a few years before returning to Burra where John Viant died on February 22nd, 1880.
Returning to Hannah Viant (Brooker) she moved to Victoria in the 1860's, the 1878 and 1879 directories indicate she was living at Stafford Street, Collingwood, however she died, aged 91years, on July 6th,1891 at 44 Harmsworth Street, Collingwood.
The death certificate listed her father as Benjamin Curd however, no details were known of her mothers maiden name.
The certificate shows she was married to Michael Brooker in England and an "unknown" Viant in South Australia from which marriage there was no issue. Hannah was born in England and is shown as living 22 years in South Australia and 20 years in Victoria.
Hannah was buried at Melbourne General Cemetery. Click here for photo of Hannah.
She is buried with her son John Brooker who died in January 1877 and also with two great grandchildren who were born to William James Wormhill Brooker and Annie Nash (Naish), Annie Wilhelmina b1885, and William George b1887. William George died, aged 4 months, in 1877 and Annie Wilhelmina died, aged 9, in 1894.
William James Wormhill Brooker was born at sea in 1861.
The informant on the certificate was shown as her daughter, Hannah Cox also of 44 Harmsworth Street, Collingwood, Victoria.
Children and their ages listed on the
certificate were -:
The following is known about the children of Michael and Hannah Brooker -:
|Name||Mary Jane Willmot Haines||Emma Martha Haines|
|Marr.||Joseph Wilson||Henry Peacock|
Nothing further is known of Charles Haines but Caroline married George Kempster on the 25th November, 1857 at St. Georges Church, Gawler, South Australia.
They had the following children.
|Name||William Kempster||Anne (Annie) Kempster||Clara Rose Kempster||Thomas George Kempster|
|Died||01-02-1939 at Pingelly WA.|
|Marr.||John Jules Parker 29-07-1890|
Caroline died age 34, of Low Fever in Adelaide on 16th February 1867.
Emma Martha Haines
married Henry Peacock and they had 13
children. Eleven of whom were still living when she died in 1904.
|Name||William Henry Homan||James Edward Homan||Frances Laura Homan||Charles Turner Homan|
|Born||b1854 Melbourne.||b1857 Collingwood||b1859 East Collingwood||b1862 Collingwood|
|Died||d1859 aged 1 year|
William Homan, died in in 1860 aged
Elizabeth Brooker remarried on 28th October 1863 at the Church of St. Peter, Melbourne which was Church of England. She married Theodore Anthony Gruner who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark the son of Frederick Gruner, musician and Valentina Brunt. He was 30 years of age and also a musician.
Elizabeth is listed as a "Widow" with the date 23rd April, 1860 listed underneath. She advises she has 2 living children and 1 dead.
Her age is 30 and her parents are listed as Michael Brooker, carpenter and Hannah Curd. She states she was born in Sussex with a usual residence shown as East Melbourne and present residence of Collingwood.
The marriage was witnessed by Charles and Susan Ziegler.
Ten years later, in 1873, her husband
Theodore, who she calls Anthony, commits suicide.|
He is a music teacher in Collingwood and plays with various orchestras.
He has a row on a Saturday night at the Melbourne Town Hall performance of "Moses in Egitto" (Moses in Egypt) with two musicians.
They were -:
W. Stoneham, Professor of Music of 221 Lygon Street, Carlton who was a trombonist and leader of "Stoneham's Brass Band".
B. Levy, Musician of Collingwood, who was first violinist with the Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra.
Early the next week he kills himself with a razor, cutting his throat.
His wife Elizabeth told the coroner she found him at 8pm dead in their bedroom.
She had seen him one hour before. He said he was going to lay down, while waiting for a student.
She was alone apart from her 12 year old son when she made the gruesome discovery.
Mr. Gruner left a note which is still in the coroner's file in Melbourne which reads -:
"Stoneham - Levy. Your handiwork is don. My blood will be revenge you cowards. God bless my poor wife and children".
They had a number of children at the time of his
death, including Albert Gruner aged 5.
Elizabeth appears to have been pregnant at the time of Mr. Gruner's death on September 8th, 1873.
Next year she gives birth to a boy and names him Anthony after his late father.
Sadly the child only lives until the age of 9.
Elizabeth comes home in November 1883 to find Anthony (junior) is not in the yard where she left him that morning.
Two weeks later his body is washed up in willow trees near a tannery in Richmond. Eliabeth has to identify her son, and does so by recognising his "shirt, boots and stockings".
She told the coroner "I had cautioned him about going near the river.
In 1873, Samuel applied for a selection of 320 acres of virgin bush on the eastern side of Lardner's Track, near Warragul in Gippsland.
On October 1st, 1873 of that year he received approval and was the fourth settler in the district, he spent a year clearing a section of it and erected a primitive dwelling.
He returned to Warrnambool for his wife and four children in 1874. The following year the Brooker's son Sydney Benjamin was the first white child to be born at Lardner (3-12-1875).
The couple were to have ten sons and two daughters, Charles, Lucy, Percy, Albert, Sydney, Edwin, Samuel, Ada, Malcolm, Francis, Ernest, Stanley and Norman.
Three of the sons served Australia in three different wars, Sydney - The Boer War, Stanley - World War 1 and Norman - World War 2.
Samuel Brooker died age 62 in 1897 at Warragul. Ann died in 1904 also at Warragul.
|NAME||Harriet Caroline||Rebecca Caroline||Eli||Mary Goulding||Mercy|
|DIED||1872 aged 4 months||1876 aged 3||1884 aged 4|
Thomas Goulding Bond died in 1882 aged 60.
It therefore appears that Hannah the daughter of Michael and Hannah Brooker married twice or perhaps at least three times.
Hannah Cox passed away in 1916 aged 77 years at Collingwood. Her parents were shown as Michael Brooker and Hannah Curd.
If you can add to or correct any of this information
Please email Ray Lane
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