The BROWNS OF BRISLINGTON, NSW
92 years of medical practice
in Parramatta Town
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.
of Parramatta, NSW
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.