The BRUSEY Family of South Australia (origins in Devon and Cornwall, U.K.) :: Genealogy
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The BRUSEY Family of South Australia (origins in Devon and Cornwall, U.K.)

Journal by phill

One of the certainties of life is there are no certainties; just probabilities and some may say that we aren't even certain about that. This observation seems particularly apt when considering the BRUSEY family for this narrative. Little that is related here is done with any certainty or confidence in the veracity of the material presented.

The BRUSEY and HUNT families became linked when Eliza Ann BRUSEY became the second wife of George HUNT, widower, father of four (one deceased) and senior partner in the drapery firm of Hunt, Corry and Co., Adelaide, with branches in Western Australia.

First, the name BRUSEY is uncommon in this region to the extent that it is not listed in the Adelaide telephone directory of 2010. It has been suggested that the name originates in Devon, U.K., and more precisely, Brixham, (Yorvick, RootsChat) a coastal town with its major commerce split between fishing and farming with tourism being a more recent addition.

Eliza's parents were likely to have been Samuel BRUSEY and Mary Ann BICE. Samuel was born about 1826 and Mary about 1831.

Samuel and Mary Ann were married at St Pauls Church, St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide on the 31.5.1852. Samuel was 26 years and Mary Ann 21 years. It seems the couple had a son, John, in 1852 and Eliza in 1854. Since neither John's nor Eliza's births seem to have been registered there could have been other children similarly unregistered and possibly a brother called Samuel for reasons that will be clearer later in this narrative. Mary Ann is listed as BRICE in the Kindred Konnections website at the marriage of her and Samuel.

There is the possibility that Samuel and Mary Ann were not the parents of the Eliza Ann who married George HUNT.

The records that I hold indicate that Eliza Ann was born in Balhannah, a small village in the hills above Adelaide, South Australia.

While Samuel's occupation was stated as being a mariner domiciled in Port Adelaide there is a question of what his occupation would have been if he was living in Balhannah, this being a rural community with primary production and ancillary services being the major occupations on offer. The less likely possibility would have been that Samuel remained in Port Adelaide to pursue his occupation while Mary entered domestic service in Balhannah.

Being a mariner would probably have equipped Samuel for manual or semiskilled work in a rural community if he had chosen to live in Balhannah and where his wife could also find work if need be.

The records contain little of Samuel's origins. His parents' names appear to have been Thomas and Mary (maiden name unknown) and that he was born in Devonshire. When he arrived in South Australia is unclear. As he probably arrived in Adelaide as a seaman his name would not appear in the ships' passenger manifests of the time.

There is a Samuel BRUSEY recorded in the census, year of registration 1849, in the district of Newton Abbot in the county of Devon (vol 10 page 10). Newton Abbot is a market town and civil parish in the Teignbridge District of Devon on the River Teign. If this is the Samuel BRUSEY who is the father of Eliza Ann it would suggest that he came to South Australia at about the same time as Mary Ann (1849) perhaps even on the same ship where he possibly served as a seaman and after his name was entered on the census of 1849 in Devon.

As for Samuel's forebears and taking a rather long shot there is a Thomas BRUSEY who appears to have been the son of Richard BRUSEY (b. abt. 1805) and married to Mary (b. abt.1804) and listed in the civil parish of East Ogwell, Devon (census of abt . Richard and Mary had a number of children James 18 yrs, Thomas, 11 yrs, Arriot, 5 yrs (disregard this para for the time being need to find out if Richard and Mary were 46 and 47 respectively in 1805 or were born about that time).

However this Samuel BRUSEY may not be the Samuel BRUSEY who married Mary Ann. There is a Samuel BRUSEY in Victorian records of deaths (specifically in Springdallah) who was listed as a miner and died as the result of an accident 24 May 1867. He is reported as being the son of Thomas and Mary of Devonshire, married to Elizabeth Bryce in Adelaide at the age of 28 years and with a child whose name and age is unknown.

Now it is thought that Eliza's mother was Mary Ann not Elizabeth which could suggest a number of alternative explanations: that this was not the Sam BRUSEY who fathered Eliza; that the Victorian records were not accurate when it came to recording family details and had mistakenly entered Elizabeth and not Mary Ann; similarly the name Bryce was entered instead of Bice and the lack of certainty about any children and their names.

If this is the Samuel BRUSEY who was Mary Ann's husband it would appear that he left his family in South Australia. In the Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, U.K., N.Z., and Foreign Ports 1852-1901 there is a listing in the name of BRUSEY, S. 27 years, on the "Cleopatra II" departed Melbourne April 1853 for Adelaide. Samuel BRUSEY also appears to have spent some time in hospital (Ballarat Hospital Admissions Register 1856-1913)from the 12 July 1860 aged 37 years, labourer.

Intriguingly, "The Argus" Melbourne 2 May 1855 lists under the heading "List of non-returnable letters detained for postage, to be applied for at the Dead Letter Office" item 3386 a letter "Brusey, Saml, Ballarat 6d". This would indicate that Samuel spent periods in Victoria working, perhaps mining, in Ballarat and commuting to Adelaide periodically.

The dead letter is tantalising. We can apply our imaginations here and suggest that the letter commenced with interspousal pleasantries, endearments and an indication that the distance between them was painful and then moving on to news such as confirming a pregnancy or announcing a birth, a request for money or a plea to return to Adelaide or there may have been a less pleasant exchange as it may have been the case that Mary and Samuel had separated.

Peter Matthews, a family researcher, informs that Samuel was buried at Smythesdale cemetery.

The mines around Springdallah were deep lead mines i.e., the mining of ancient deeply buried river beds. It involved sinking a shaft till it hit the old riverbed gravels and the gravels were mined horizontally until the distance from the verical shaft made the mining too difficult whereupon a new vertical shaft would be sunk and the mining recommenced. The work was carried out in wet conditions as these were old riverbeds and often the rock would be soft and hence falls of earth would be common.

The following is supplied Joan E. Hunt, Councillor, Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Amongst providing detail it also indicates the altered spellings of names entered on records and hence the difficulty in tracking records of individuals.

"Samuel BRUSEY is entered in the index to burials at Smythesdale cemetery as Samuel Brusy. He is 42 years of age, and lived at Piggoreet. He was a miner, and his religion was Church of England. He is buried in section 1 which is the Church of England section in grave number 121. The date of burial was 26 May 1867. His parents were Thomas and Mary Bruty (sic) according to the Burials CD compiled by the Smythsdale Cemetery Trust last year (2009). So that's the entry in the index which was taken from the burial register, with reference to the Pioneer Index for his parent's names which also shows that he was born in Devonshire (reg. no. 7079).

In the index to coroner's inquests, Samuels' inquest is entered as Samuel BENSEY. He died from a fall of earth at Piggoreet (ref. 388).

Piggoreet and Springdallah are one and the same. In 1860 the names were often interchangeable. Piggoreet no longer exists and the site is about midway between Scarsdale and Cape Clear. The general district is now known as Springdallah, although there is not now or ever has been an actual township called Springdallah except for a few years in the early 1860s when Piggoreet was called that. The townships in the Springdallah area were Golden Lake, Happy Valley, Lucky Woman's, Grand Trunk, Derwent Jacks, Piggoreet and Dreamer's Hill."

It appears that Mary Ann was a widow at 39 years and married Thomas LEITCH, aged 52 years at the residence of James CRAWFORD, Port Adelaide, 25 December 1869.

Mary Ann's origins seem a little clearer. A Mary Ann and Johanna "BRICE" appear in the steerage passenger list of the "Himalaya" which left London on the 1.8.1849 arriving at Port Adelaide on the 16.11.1849. It seems probable that the name "BRICE" was a misspelling of "Bice" and given that illiteracy was a common feature of the time it therefore would not have been noted and corrected by the young ladies in question. It is further noted that Johanna's first names were Johanna Dorothea Christiana.

Johanna BICE'S name appears in the Cornwall baptism records of 1830/31, 30 May as being the daughter of Archelaus and Mary Ann. Her sister, Mary Ann's name, appears in the baptism records of 5 June 1832 although there seems to be a change in the father's name to Hercules ( Whether Archelaus and Hercules were one and the same is unclear but in either event the parents must have had a heightened sense of the heroic, applying names that attached to one of the Herods of Judea in the former name and a part-god of Greco-Roman mythology in the latter.

It seems that the girls' father was deceased by 1851 and their mother remarried in 1869.

The sisters had older brothers: Hercules baptised 10.10.1824; John baptised 20.11.1825.

It is surprising to consider that two teenage girls would set out, leave family, travel unescorted, knowing that, in all likelihood, they were on a one-way trip to the Antipodes but this does appear to be the case. They must be regarded as having resolve, a sense of adventure, self-assurance and possession of competent life skills. One could draw an expansive comparison with other precocious teenagers such as Jessica Watson who sailed single-handedly nonstop around the world at age 16 years.

What is known is that during the time of the girls' migration there were big campaigns featured in newpapers encouraging people to migrate. Free passage or reduced fares were offered to able-bodied young people. Often certain occupations were targeted. As South Australia was not a penal colony it was a sought after destination and people jumped at the chance of a better life. Johanna and Mary Ann more than likely answered one of these advertisements. Female servants were always in demand (krisesjoint, Rootschat).

Upon disembarkation in Port Adelaide reference to Johanna seems to fade from view although this could alter upon further investigation.

The conundrums around The BRUSEY family have not yet been exhausted. Eliza Ann BRUSEY is recorded as marrying George HUNT at the residence of Samuel BRUSEY, Adelaide on the 13.4.1876. This is nine years after the death of Samuel BRUSEY in Springdallah and seven years after Samuel's widow married Thomas LEITCH.

Now the residence of a deceased Samuel would not still be known as the residence of Samuel BRUSEY. The most compelling theory would be that there was a son, Samuel, of Mary Ann and Samuel snr. If for instance there was a son, Samuel, it could be speculated that he was born around 1855-57 and hence would have been around 20 years of age at the time of his sister, Eliza Ann's, wedding. He may have had property at this stage and in particular the property where the marriage took place.

It may have also been the case that Thomas LEITCH had died by this time and the property bought by the young Samuel or willed to him by his stepfather with provision for Mary Ann to have a life interest in the property.

A further possibility is that both Thomas and Mary Ann were dead at the time of Eliza's wedding and the property passed into a young Samuel's possession.

At this point, the life of Eliza Ann becomes linked with the HUNT family of South Australia (formerly of Northamptonshire, U.K.). The outcomes of this relationship can be explored through entering "The HUNT family of South Australia (formerly of Northamptonshire, U.K.)" in a search engine.

Surnames: BRUSEY
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by phill Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2010-06-20 06:20:58

phill has been a Family Tree Circles member since May 2010. is researching the following names: HUNT, RAGGATT, JARDEN and 25 other(s).

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by phill on 2010-12-04 00:03:11

A plea to Alleycat. Is there a maximum amount that one can enter in a journal before it ceases to accept more entries and blocks alterations to the script?

by Aussie1947 on 2010-12-04 08:20:57


South Australian Gazette Dec 9th 1858 page 920 has listed those with unclaimed letters as of November 30th 1858 including a Mrs Mary Anne Brusey.


by allycat on 2010-12-04 09:08:04

Dear Phil, Hi. Please contact the Webmaster SJangro.

Meanwhile, have you researched your BRUSEY surname at Trove - The National Library of Australia online?

by phill on 2010-12-12 00:58:14

Thanks alleycat. Warm Greetings. I shall follow your advice.

by kpearce on 2017-06-27 22:52:13

Hi Phil,

I am a direct descendant of the Brusey family of East Ogwell, Devon, England. In researching the Brusey family I have come across 2 different spellings Brusey and Brewsey. I would suggest that you try searching Brewsey and see what you can find.

Karen (

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