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Hort Brown, Theresa (1836–1927)

The days when Victoria Barracks were situated at Wynyard-square, when there was a toll-bar on the present New South Head road where travellers entering Sydney had to pay dues, and when the railway between Sydney and Parramatta was not yet built, all lived vividly in the memory of Mrs. Teresa Hort-Brown, who died at Darling Point on Wednesday. Mrs. Hort-Brown was 91 years old. To the last she retained her faculties, and was able to give sprightly reminiscences of her girlhood.

Mrs. Hort-Brown was the widow of Dr. Henry Hort-Brown, of Maryborough, Queensland. Her father, Mr. Francis Clark, came from England about 90 years ago with letters of introduction from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Sir Richard Bourke and Sir Thomas Mitchell, the latter being head of the Surveyor-General's Office at that time. Mr. Clark was an architect, and designed several of the public buildings of the day, notably St. Patrick's Church on Church Hill, and certain details of St. Mary's Cathedral. He had brought with him from England his wife, formerly Miss Margaret Robertson. The late Mrs. Hort-Brown was christened in St. James' Church, King-street, her godmother being the eldest daughter of Commissary-General Laidley—afterwards Mrs. Thomas Mort.

She had vivid recollections of Vaucluse House as it was when Mr. Charles Wentworth lent it to her second sister for her honeymoon. Even in those days the garden was noted for its beauty, and Mr. Wentworth used to allow sailors from the various warships to take away as much fruit as they could carry. The balls given by the visiting warships were then on a magnificent scale. At one on board a Spanish vessel gloves and white satin shoes in all sizes were provided for the ladies in case any of their own became soiled or wet while they were going on board.

Mrs. Hort-Brown saw the first sod of the Sydney-Parramatta railway turned by Mrs. Keith Stuart, daughter of Sir Charles Fitzroy, then Governor of New South Wales. She remembered, too, the excitement when Lady Mary Fitzroy was killed in a carriage accident at Parramatta. She was married to Dr. Henry Hort-Brown in 1856 at St. Mark's Church, Darling Point, by the Rev. G. F. Macarthur. The honeymoon was spent at the Black House, Richmond, then a fashionable resort for newly-married couples. Later, she and her husband rode overland to Queensland to visit Dr. Hort-Brown's brothers, Messrs. Alfred and Arthur Brown. Once they were in danger of their lives at the hands of hostile blacks. This was 40 miles from Gladstone, at a station belonging to Cox and Bloomfield. The place was in darkness when they arrived, only to learn that the homestead had been surrounded by Aboriginies, who on the previous night had killed the overseer and another man. All night long the party could hear the spears of the besiegers thudding on the roof. The wife of the cook went insane from terror, and, rushing outside, drowned herself.

During the war, Mrs. Hort-Brown worked ceaselessly for the Red Cross. The society presented her with its "Red and White Stripes." General Pau sent her an autographed letter of thanks, and General Birdwood an autographed photo.

The funeral service was held yesterday at St. Mark's Church, Darling Point. Canon Lea gave an address, referring to the fact that Mrs Hort-Brown was one of the first brides the church had seen, while it was yet surrounded by bush. She had been admired by all who knew her—and her friends were many. The St. Mark's Church choir sang at the graveside in the Waverley Cemetery. Among those present were Dr. Keith Brown, Dr. Sigismund Brown, Mr. Edwin Brown, Mr. Linden Brown, and Mr. Seymour Morrisset (nephews); Major E. A. Lloyd, Mr. John Lloyd, and Mr. Len Whitfield (great-nephews), Miss Woodyatt (niece), Miss Larkin (great niece), Mr. H. B. Cowper, and Mr. George Sefton.

Mrs. Hort-Brown's sisters—Mrs. Boucicault (an aunt of Mr. Dion Boucicault), Mrs. Morrisset, and Mrs. Horsley—all predeceased her. She leaves one son (Mr. A. H. Brown), and three daughters, Misses Maud, May, and Una Brown, all of Darling Point.

Original publication

Citation details

'Hort Brown, Theresa (1836–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hort-brown-theresa-14369/text25442, accessed 15 November 2019.

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