John Oliver's Family History Pages

Brice Family

 Descendants of Henry Edward Brice

 For more in depth information on the Brice Family, go to the Publications page where you can download the book

Henry Edward Brice - A One Family Study



The Mooroolbark Brice Family

Henry Edward Brice

Henry Edward Brice was christened in the village of Talaton, Devonshire, England, on 20 April 1806. It is presumed that he was christened at the church of St James the Great, Talaton. His parents were John Brice and Mary VickeryWe cannot be sure of Henry’s date of birth but from deducting the age of Henry at birth events of his children (where possible); we can presume that Henry was born close to his baptismal date of April 1806.

We can also presume that he may have been born in Tiverton, Devon.  Death certificates for some of Henry’s children show Henry’s birth location as ‘Ifferton’, Devonshire. Ifferton does not seem to exist and it may be that the name ‘Tiverton’ has been corrupted over time or misheard and misunderstood and misspelt by Henry’s children.

In 1841, at the age of 38 [i](?), he left Devonshire to venture to the colony of Victoria, Australia. Henry arrived  on the ship “George Fyffe” in Port Phillip on the 23rd July 1841 from Plymouth.  The ship carried 38 families consisting of 106 souls, 49 unmarried males and 59 unmarried females.  Included in the unmarried males is Henry Brice age 29 years, shepherd, protestant, reads, native place Devonshire. Henry’s birthdate is out by about 10 years but as it was a requirement that unmarried immigrants must be under 30 years of age it is possible that Henry played with the truth.  This was a common occurrence in those days. It was also common for shipping companies to mark down the age of immigrants, This way they made more money.

On the 15th of February 1844, Henry Brice married, by Banns, Mary Ann Gloster at St James Old Cathedral, Melbourne by Chaplain A. C. Thompson. The Marriage Register indicates that they were both resident in the Parish of St James, Melbourne, which was part of the County of Bourke. At the time of their marriage, Henry was aged 40 and Mary Ann was a mere 16 years old. It is interesting to note that neither was able to sign their name on the register and therefore made their marks with a cross. Their witnesses, William Joyce and Sarah Martin also made their marks. Other entries in the marriage register indicate that this was a common practice at that time. It should be noted here that all of Henry’s children could read and write. It should also be noted that prior to her death, Mary Ann had learnt to write as evidenced by her signature on her will. No doubt, taught by her children, who Henry and Mary Ann made sure were literate. Henry continued to sign with his mark up to his death.

An 1847 directory, Port Phillip edition, shows Henry Brice as an agriculturist, Elgars Survey at Plenty. Fellow researcher on the Rourke families, Brian Byrne is not sure of the exact location of this, but the Plenty originally appears to him to be where the northern suburbs of Melbourne are now.

The 1856 Electoral Roll/Census shows Henry as a Farmer, Koning Creek (sic) (Koonung), Boroondarra, Victoria.

Henry died at Mooroolbark, Victoria from Chronic Bronchitis and Old Age on 31 August 1877 aged 71 and was buried on 2 September 1877 in Lilydale Lawn Cemetery, Victoria. (Grave ref: Row 1, Grave 27)(Note: Death Certificate states at 75 years of age.)  An interesting observation can be made here – Although Henry and Mary Ann married in St James Old Cathedral, a Church of England church, they were both buried in the Roman Catholic section of Lilydale Cemetery. Did Henry and Mary Ann convert to Catholicism or was this the only nearby church that they could marry in, or was it because the Catholic Church would not allow a 16 year old to marry in their church? This we may never know.

Henry Brice was one of the first to acquire land, when, in February 1856, he purchased the first of two selections of Crown Grant land in Mooroolbark. This was an area of approximately 80 acres for which he paid £2.00 per acre. Two months later, in April 1856, he acquired a further 313 acres a little further south in what is now central Mooroolbark. For this, he paid a bargain price of only £1.00 per acre. Interestingly, when Henry died in 1871 the land was valued at £2.00 per acre; his stock, however, was worth the princely sum of £2.00 per head.



Mary Ann Gloster

Mary Ann Gloster was born In County Kerry, Ireland, in 1828, the daughter of Thomas Gloster. On her death certificate, Mary’s father is shown as Thomas Gloster, Clerk.

Her mother is Unknown. Mary arrived in Port Phillip on the 3rd of October 1841, a passenger on the bounty ship Agricola. She was aged 13 and may have emigrated under the care of another family. The shipping list for the Agricola also shows a Margaret and Thomas Gloster travelling as man and wife. It is also possible that Mary Ann’s parents were no longer alive and that her brother may have brought her with him to Australia. Given the difference in ages between Thomas (aged 30 at the time) and Mary Ann (13 years), it could be assumed that there would have been other siblings. It could also be assumed that Mary was indeed the child of Thomas and Margaret who may have put their ages down so as to qualify for assisted passage. Thomas’s death registration shows him as aged 41 when he was buried in 1849.

Mary died on 26 May 1898, aged 70 years, in Mooroolbark, Victoria from an Obstruction of the Bowel. She was buried in Lilydale Lawn Cemetery, Victoria on 29 May 1898 in an unmarked grave. (Grave ref: Row 1, grave 19.)

The Lilydale Express – June 1898


It is with feelings of regret and sincere sympathy for the sorrowing family, that we are called upon to chronicle the death of the late Mrs. H. Brice, senr., who died on the night of the 26th ult. at her residence, Mooroolbark. Although her illness was a brief one, her end was not unexpected, as her medical adviser held out very little hope of recovery from the commencement of the malady which caused her death. The deceased lady, who was widely known and respected, came to this district with her husband - who predeceased her- over 40 years ago; they were consequently among the earliest settlers in the locality. She leaves behind a numerous family, all of whom are settled in life, to mourn their irreparable loss. One after another the old pioneers of the place, who have built up the district and made the history of it; who have borne the burden and heat of the day, are being gathered to their father, to enjoy the reward of the faithful servant, and after "life's fitful fever" to sleep the sleep the have earned so well.

The first child of Henry and Mary Ann, Elizabeth Ann, was born in a tent in Bourke St., Melbourne. An assumption is that it may have been a hospital tent although other sources have Henry and Mary Ann living in said tent. Their next three children, John James, Mary Ann, and Margaret Frances were all born in Yering between the years 1847 and 1850. The fifth child, Ellen, was born in Boroondara in 1853; however she died in 1854, aged 17 months. By the time Emma Ellen was born in 1855, the family was residing in Mooroolbark.

Their family continued to grow. In the years between 1844 and 1868 they produced eleven children. Two of these children died as infants. Ellen, who died of marasmus (a wasting disease) at 17 months, and Henry Thomas, was born in 1857, lived for only one year. In 1868, the family suffered a double tragedy. Their six year old son, William Charles, died of Phthisis, (a disease of the lungs) in September. Two months later, on the 9th of November, their eighteen year old daughter, Margaret Frances, died of Diphtheria. They are buried at Lilydale in the same grave as their father Henry. In the same year, 1868, Mary Ann gave birth to their youngest child, a daughter Christina Harriet Frances.

Christina and her two sisters, Emma and Caroline, died young. Christina and Caroline both died of Tuberculosis at ages 27 and 37, respectively. Emma was to die of Cancer, aged 41. All three daughters left families of very young children. Of the remaining children, the two surviving sons, John James and Edward Henry, both died at age 58. Their daughters, Elizabeth and Mary Ann, survived to be 82 years and 69 years of age, respectively.

Henry and Mary Ann Brice were dairy farmers in those early days in Mooroolbark. They had a modest four roomed dwelling set back from the road, with the all-important milking sheds at the front. Early maps indicate that the approximate location on Hull Rd would have been at what is now No. 315, a low profile block of flats.  In 2010, there is a street named Brice Avenue, previously named Taylor Avenue and a park named Brice Avenue Park both named after Henry.

… For more information on this family please contact me for a copy of the document - "Henry Edward Brice" .