Politician, Stock and Station Agent & Pastoral Investor
Born at St. John, Horsleydown, Surrey, England the son of Joseph Brown, a marine captain and Amelia née Tilley; in 1851 the family migrated to Australia. After his education at Geelong Grammar School (1856-59) where he won a number of prizes, Brown worked as a clerk with “Bright and Hitchcock”, a local retailer before joining the Bank of New South Wales in 1863; he later resigned in 1875 after an irregularity involving a subordinate was discovered. That year he opened a stock and station agency at Echuca with his brother-in-law. But like many leading men, politics was in Brown’s blood.
In 1876 he was elected to the local Shire Council (1876-89) and was President from 1888 to 1889. After a number of attempts to stand for election, Brown served in both State and Federal Parliaments – MLA for Mandurang (1886-89), Shepparton-Euroa (1891-1904); and MHR for Indi (1906-10), succeeding (Sir) Issac Issacs (Melbourne General Cemetery). A moderate free trader, he was a recognised authority on stock and farming and while representing the seat of Indi, he voted for the Yass-Canberra site on 8 October 1908 as the future capital of the nation. In what must be close to a record for the number of electoral defeats, Brown unsuccessfully contested Mandurang (1883, 1893 and 1894), Gunbower (1889 and 1892), Goulburn Valley (1904) and Indi (1913) as well as being defeated whilst holding Mandurang (1889), Shepparton-Euroa (1904) and Indi (1910). After his defeat in 1913, he retired to Moyhu near Wangaratta to manage his farming properties.
He died at St. Andrew’s Private Hospital, Brighton on 28 September 1925 aged 81 after an operation three days before survived by his wife Mary née Seward whom he married on 6 January 1874 and bore him three children; Anne (b 1875), Jessie (1878-81) and Joseph (b 1881).
The Argus 26 March 1919, 29 September 1925 & 9 May 1927.
The Age 29 September 1925.
Melbourne Punch 20 December 1906.
Corfield, J & Persse, M., “Geelong Grammarians. A Biographical Register Vol I 1855-1913” (1996).
Thomson, K & Serle, G., “A Biographical Register of the Victorian Legislature 1851-1900” (1972).
(By permission of the National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23252118)