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Two Grandfathers, Should Have Been For Me

Thomas Brownell (1800–1871)

When Thomas Coke Brownell and his young wife Elizabeth arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1830, he had ideas of combining three passions: religion, medicine and farming. He took a post as surgeon and religious instructor at the Maria Island penal settlement, on £50 a year.

When the settlement closed he set up a private medical practice. He attempted school teaching, and even turned his hand to farming, but the family was growing, and he had financial difficulties.

Finally Brownell returned to government service at the General Hospital in Hobart. Then in 1840 he became Assistant Surgeon at Port Arthur.

Thomas and Elizabeth had thirteen children. He was forced to retire due to poor health, and was left to support the family including the five youngest Brownells on a yearly pension of £84 (about $8000 today).

At Port Arthur, Brownell was responsible for the settlement’s 1,000 inhabitants. He also served as a magistrate.  The hospital at Port Arthur stood high on a hill, overlooking the Penitentiary building.
At Port Arthur, Brownell was responsible for the settlement’s 1,000 inhabitants. He also served as a magistrate. The hospital at Port Arthur stood high on a hill, overlooking the Penitentiary building.

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