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 The BROWN family of Brislington, near Bristol, UK
& of Australia

and especially the descendants of
William BROWN and his wives - Sarah HORT & Deborah WORGAN



92 years of medical practice in Parramatta Town


From 1857 to 1949 three generations of the Brown family practiced medicine from "Brislington", their historic, convict-built home in the centre of Parramatta, NSW, Australia.


Dr Walter Brown
of Parramatta, NSW

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Walter Brown, studied medicine at Edinburgh University and he and his brother, Henry Hort Brown, both doctors, travelled to Australia a number of times as ships surgeons before coming here to settle. Walter Brown is also said to have made a trip to India as a ship's surgeon.

After marrying Sigismunda Broun in 1857 the couple moved into a home in Parramatta they named "Brislington". From 1857 until 1849 Brislington was the home and the surgery for Walter and his family.

Drs Walter Brown, his son Walter Sigismund Brown and grandson Keith Sigismund MacArthur Brown were all dedicated general practitioners, earning affection and respect within their community.

All three doctors and their wives and families took a keen interest in Parramatta town, its people, its history, and its development and Australia quickly replaced the "Mother Country" as the family's home.

The doctors of "Brislington" Parramatta accepted many professional and community responsibilities while maintaining busy private practices. The institutions they served reflect the growth of Parramatta and Sydney. Included were the Colonial Hospital, Parramatta Volunteer Corps, the Lunatic Asylum, the Goal, Parramatta District Hospital, Parramatta and Rydalmere Mental Hospitals, Burnside Presbyterian Homes, Church of England Homes, the Child Welfare Training School, the first Medical Associations, the first Ambulance Committee, Sydney University, and the Department of Education.

Strong links were forged between the Brown family and The Kings School (TKS), just "a stone's throw" from "Brislington", on the opposite bank of the Parramatta River. The marriage of Margaret Isabella Macarthur, daughter of TKS Headmaster GF Macarthur, to Dr WS Brown strengthened those bonds.

The Browns were enthusiastic about many sports - bowls, cricket, rifle shooting, athletics, rugby, tennis, golf - and were blessed with considerable abilities. Dr WS Brown, in particular, was described in his day as one of the greatest all round sportsmen TKS and Parramatta had ever seen. In the late 1800s keen sportsmen had to work hard to establish new clubs and competitions and the Drs Brown were energetic leaders of such initiatives.

The Brown families established, encouraged and supported historical and musical societies, St John's Church in Parramatta and many other community ventures. Wives and children quietly and proudly played their own part in the town, closely involved in fund-raising, church activities, leadership of charities and sporting clubs, "opening" local institutions and initiating community events.

"Brislington", the much-loved family home for 92 years, was open to all - family, friends, antiquarians, community groups, and leaders of the growing colony, and later the city institutions and academic world. It served as a community centre, fund-raising venue, meeting place and even an air raid shelter! It was, however, frequently under threat of demolishment. Finally, it was resumed by the Department of Public Works as a nursing quarters for the hospital and in 1949 Dr and Mrs Keith Brown moved out. He continued practice from a modern flat in Hunter St, Parramatta until his death in 1962.

Dr KSMB had a passionate interest in history - of medicine, his community, and his family. He devoted a great deal of his personal and professional time to researching, reviewing, lecturing and writing on the history of Sydney, and especially Parramatta. His legacy is available to the city today - through the Mitchell Library, his publications, family records and Sydney University where he lectured in medical history for 16 years.

Since 1983 "Brislington"has been a Medical and Nursing Museum, classified by the National Trust and preserved and opened to the public by volunteer ex-nurses of Parramatta District Hospital who are the official guardians of the building. With ancient Moreton Bay fig in the garden it is still a small oasis in the centre of the city of Parramatta.



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