Guide to the Papers of John Brown (as filmed by the AJCP)


M849 - M850

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Brown, John
Papers of John Brown (as filmed by AJCP)
Date Range
1838 - 1851
Collection Number
M849 - M850
88 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

The papers deal with the management of the properties of John Harris, emphasising the financial and legal aspects. Included is Brown's diary 1840-45 commencing with his departure from England for Australia and concluding with the return journey via Port Phillip and Valparaiso.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private residence of Mrs Margret Brown, Northern Ireland, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1979 (AJCP Reels: M849 - M850). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

The private residence of Mrs Margaret Brown. County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Constitutions: Australian colonies; Brown, John; Harris, John; Farms and farming: New South Wales; Surgeons; Valparaiso, Chile;


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 75, pp25-26.

Biographical / Historical

John Harris (1754-1839) was born at Moneymore, County Londonderry, Ireland. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and in about 1779 he joined the Royal Navy as a ship's surgeon. In 1789 he was appointed surgeon's mate in the New South Wales Corps and he arrived in Sydney on the Surprize in 1790. In 1791 he was promoted to surgeon. Harris received a land grant at Parramatta and built the Experiment Farm Cottage. In 1800 he was appointed a magistrate, in 1801 he became the Naval Officer, and in 1803 he became deputy Judge Advocate. He was dismissed by Governor William Bligh in 1807 and subsequently took a prominent part in the Rum Rebellion. Harris left for England in 1809 where he resigned his commission. He returned to New South Wales in 1814 and settled down as one of the largest landowners in the colony. His Sydney home was Ultimo House and his main properties were at Parramatta (Harris Park) and Shane's Park at South Creek.

Harris's estate was said to be worth £150,000. He had no children and the bulk of his estate was bequeathed to his three brothers in Ireland, William, Robert and George. William sent his sons John and Thomas and Robert sent his son Robert to Sydney to look after their interests. George sent his son-in-law, John Brown, a farmer from Ballymulligan, near Moneymore. Brown was in Australia from July 1840 to September 1844, for the most part living at Experiment Farm Cottage, Parramatta. Together with Thomas Harris, he was especially concerned with the management of the Harris station at Killangan, near Yass.

George Harris died in March 1843 and his two brothers contested the claim of his three children to a third of John Harris's estate. A compromise was eventually reached in about 1852 and John Brown and his wife Margaret received legacies.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Legal documents and agreements, 1838 - 1848

15 items

Copy of the will of Dr John Harris of Shane's Park, 22 February 1838 (File 1)

Incomplete, in handwriting of John Brown.

Copy of a pledge by the executors of the estate of John Harris to transmit to George Harris the legacies bequeathed to him and his children, with the exception of the legacy of Margaret Harris, 22 February 1841 (File 2)

In John Brown's handwriting.

Copy of a memorandum of agreement concerning the employment of Benjamin Donley by Thomas Harris, Parramatta, 6 December 1841 (File 3)

In handwriting of John Brown.

Copy of a memorandum of agreement concerning the employment of Walter Tutal (?) by Thomas Harris, Robert Harris and John Brown, Parramatta, 26 December 1842 (File 4)

Copy of an agreement concerning the employment of James Kennedy by Thomas Harris, Robert Harris and John Brown, Shane's Park, 1 June 1843 (File 5)

In John Brown's handwriting.

Account of John Brown with George Allen, solicitor, 1 September 1843 (File 6)

Agreement signed by Thomas Harris and John Brown concerning their financial transactions, 14 October 1843 (File 7)

Agreement signed by Thomas Harris and John Brown concerning the lease of a cottage and paddock at Parramatta, 14 October 1843 (File 8)

Draft agreement concerning the employment of brickmakers by Thomas Harris (File 9)

Notes concerning writs taken out by Robert Harris and John Harris against John Brown, 23 February 1844 (File 10)

Summons to John Brown to appear in Court of Requests to answer plaint of John Rea, Sydney, 21 May 1844 (File 11)

Execution against goods of John Brown in pursuance of a decision of the Court of Requests to satisfy John Rea, Sydney, 8 August 1844 (File 12)

Queen's Bench. Robert Harris v. John Brown. Costs of the defendant, 13 February 1846 (File 13)

Power of attorney granted by William Harris, George Harris, Samuel Crooks, Jane Crooks, John Brown and Margaret Brown to Andrew Murray of Parramatta, 13 May 1848 (File 14)

Draft deposition by Gilbert Scott of Moneymore, County Londonderry, attesting to bona fides of signatories to power of attorney, Belfast, 15 May 1848 (File 15)

In John Brown's handwriting.

Series 2. Diary, 2 March 1840 - 6 April 1845

Diary kept by John Brown, commencing onhis voyage to Australia and ending on his return voyage to Liverpool. Brown arrived in Adelaide in July 1840 and in the next month continued the voyage to Sydney. He spent most of the next four years in Sydney and Parramatta, but the diary also refers to visits to the Harris property at Killangan, near Yass. He left Sydney on 23 August 1844, sailing to Port Phillip and thence to Valparaiso.

Series 3. Correspondence, 1837 - 1851

71 items

Samuel Stinsin (Killangan) to John Harris (Shane's Park), 27 August 1837 (File 1)

Management of the station.

[Morton?] to John Scott, 20 November 1839 (File 2)

Encloses power of attorney to be executed by George Harris and William Harris authorising John Harris and James Fullerton to receive the rents of the Ultimo Estate and to manage the Estate.

T.D. Huntly (?) to John Brown, 30 January 1840 (File 3)

Acknowledges receipt of half the payment of his cabin passage.

W.H. Goddard (Sydney) to [Unknown], 22 August 1840 (File 4)

O'Reilly wishes to rent a cottage at Ultimo.

A. Murray (Sydney) to John, Robert and Thomas Harris, 7 October 1840 (File 5)

Requests financial assistance for J. Scott.

Samuel Stinsin (Killangan) to John Harris, 24 October 1841 (File 6)

Management of the station.

A. Reynolds to John Harris, 23 January 1841 (File 7)

Rent of a cottage.

A. Murray (Sydney) to Rev. Thomas Dougal (Sorell, Van Diemen's Land), 24 February 1841 (File 8)

Requests he sign a release so that legacies of John Harris can be transmitted to legatees and also requests authorisation to deliver shares of stock to Thomas and Robert Harris and John Brown. (copy in John Brown's handwriting)

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown (Shane's Park), 24 October 1841 (File 9)

Concerning share of George Harris of John Harris's legacies. (incomplete)

[Rev. Thomas Dougal] (Sorell) to Brown, 1 December 1841 (File 10)

Share of George Harris of John Harris's legacies. (incomplete)

[Margaret Brown] (Ballymulligan) to Brown, 29 October 1841 (File 11)

Report by Robert Harris of Brown's improper conduct. (incomplete)

A. Reynolds (Ultimo) to Brown (Parramatta), 6 April 1842 (File 12)

Arranges a meeting.

D. Chambers and Holden (Sydney) to Thomas Harris and Brown, 26 April 1842 (File 13)

Annual rent required by John Harris for the continued use of his station.

Thomas Harris (Parramatta) to James Kennedy, 27 April 1842 (File 14)

Lists shares forwarded for the use of the station.

Thomas Harris (Parramatta) to Margaret Brown, 17 May 1842 (File 15)

Rejects charges made against John Brown.

A. Murray (Parramatta) to Margaret Brown, 20 May 1842 (File 16)

Defends Brown's conduct since his arrival in the colony.

Brown (Parramatta) to Margaret Brown, 21 May 1842 (File 17)

Refutes her charges; counter-charges against John and Robert Harris; intends to remain until George Harris gives him power of attorney to collect his share of the estate.

Brown (Parramatta) to George Harris (Ballymulligan), 20 June 1842 (File 18)

Criticises John Harris and defends his own behaviour; letters from solicitors of John Harris directing him to remove cattle from the station or pay a rent.

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown, 6 January 1843 (File 19)

Management of the station.

Brown (Sydney) to executors of John Harris, 18 January 1843 (File 20)

Requests an account of the administration of the estate and of all monies received and paid.

Thomas Harris (Yass) to Brown, 20 January 1843 (File 21)

Financial difficulties.

David Chambers to John Harris (File 22)

Return of his cousin John Harris to Ireland; impossibility of dealing with Brown; Brown's offensive behaviour towards the executors; refers to Chambers's interview with Harris and his uncles in Moneymore; strange that the property has been left unproductive for so long when it might yield from £10,000 to £20,000 a year.

D. Chambers and Holden (Sydney) to John Harris (Magherafelt), 23 January 1843 (File 23)

Encloses bill of exchange for £98.10.0, the legacy of his uncle.

Thomas Harris (Gunning) to Brown, 25 January 1843 (File 24)

Requests he defer a meeting with executors until Harris returns to Sydney.

Thomas Harris (Killangan) to Brown, 4 February 1843 (File 25)

Financial and legal difficulties

Thomas Harris to Brown, 6 February 1843 (File 26)

Debts; refers to suit of Robert Harris against Brown.

Brown (Parramatta) to Margaret Brown, 27 March 1843 (File 27)

Meetings with executors; their refusal to divide the Ultimo Estate.

Robert Campbell (Moneymore) to Brown, 18 March 1843 (File 28)

Death of George Harris; urges him to return to Ireland.

Thomas Harris (Sydney) to Brown, 27 March 1843 (File 29)

Requests that Brown act as his agent during his absence.

Brown to James Kennedy, 12 April 1843 (File 30)

Requests an account of all monies received from Brown and an account of the expenses of the stations.

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown, 2 May 1843 (File 31)

Affairs of the station; financial and legal difficulties.

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown, 6 May 1843 (File 32)

Litigation in Yass; trouble with Ultimo tenants; urges caution in proceeding against executors and requesting money urgently.

John Brown (Parramatta) to executors of John Harris, 8 May 1843 (File 33)

Requests an account of the administration of the estate.

John Brown (Parramatta) to Robert Harris, 12 May 1843 (File 34)

Quotes Kennedy's letter of 2 May.

T.P. Styles (Maneroo) to Thomas Harris (Killangan) (File 35)

Mustering of cattle.

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown, 30 May 1843 (File 36)

Litigation in Yass; requests funds to pay off debt on station.

Brown (Sydney) to tenants of Ultimo Estate, 30 May 1843 (File 37)

Intends to visit Ultimo cottages in July to collect rents. (copy)

A Reynolds (Ultimo) to Brown, 7 June 1843 (File 38)

Financial difficulties.

A Reynolds (Ultimo) to Brown, 23 June 1843 (File 39)

Financial difficulties.

Thomas Harris (Yass) to Brown, 23 June 1843 (File 40)

Legal and financial difficulties.

Thomas Harris (Killangan) to A. Little (Parramatta), 3 July 1843 (File 41)

Market for cattle; purchase of White's station at Cunningham Creek; repair of a dray.

Thomas Harris (Killangan) to Brown, 23 July 1843 (File 42)

Debts and problems with Ultimo rents.

Brown (Parramatta) to Margaret Brown, 25 July 1843 (File 43)

Negotiations with executors; risk that case will go to Chancery; dispute with Robert Harris over Ultimo rents.

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown, 6 September 1843 (File 44)

Requests stores.

Thomas Harris (Cunninghams Creek) to Brown, 10 November 1843 (File 45)

Care of sheep; death of Stinsin's child in the bush.

Holden, Chambers and McCarthy (Sydney) to Robert Harris, Thomas Harris and John Brown, 20 December 1843 (File 46)

Encloses a memorandum on cattle belonging to the estate in 1840; requests they supply executors with returns of numbers received and disposed of.

James Kennedy (Killangan) to Brown, 18 February 1844 (File 47)

Delivery of cattle; further litigation.

George Allen (Sydney) to Brown, 24 February 1844 (File 48)

Sends a copy of a letter from the Sheriff directing Brown to attend the Court and to bring bail.

John Rea to Brown, 19 March 1844 (File 49)

A visit by Thomas Harris; Harris's dispute with Brown; claims of John and Robert Harris.

George Allen (Sydney) to Brown, 19 March 1844 (File 50)

Claims by John and Robert Harris against Brown over the rents from the Ultimo Estate and expenditure on the station.

Holden, Chambers and McCarthy (Sydney) to Brown, 20 March 1844 (File 51)

Requests on behalf of Thomas Harris payment on account of rents collected from Ultimo Estate.

George Allen (Sydney) to Brown, 10 April 1844 (File 52)

Requests Brown visit and sign an affidavit.

George Allen to Brown, 16 April 1844 (File 53)

Requests particulars of expenditure on the station.

George Allen to Brown, 27 April 1844 (File 54)

The case.

Wall to Thomas Harris (Parramatta), 28 April 1844 (File 55)

Demand by Brown for payment for 114 sheep. (copy in John Brown's handwriting)

Brown (Sydney) to Wall, 29 April 1844 (File 56)

Directs Wall not to pay Thomas Harris for 114 sheep. (copy)

Brown (Parramatta) to James Kennedy, 30 April 1844 (File 57)

Authorises him to dispose of cattle in lieu of salary. (copy)

John Dillon (Sydney) to Brown, 2 May 1844 (File 58)

Requests Brown to pay two orders drawn by J. Kennedy or else face court action.

James Kennedy (Sydney) to Brown, 22 May 1844 (File 59)

Resignation; requests settlement of his wages and station's debts.

Holden, Chambers and McCarthy (Sydney) to Brown, 26 June 1844 (File 60)

Sale of cattle without consent of executors would be invalid.

Thomas Harris (Sydney) to Brown, 1 July 1844 (File 61)

Requests Brown to defend the action brought by J. Kennedy against Thomas and Robert Harris and Brown.

George Allen to Brown, 2 July 1844 (File 62)

Award in case of Harris v. Brown is ready.

Thomas Harris (Parramatta) to Brown (Sydney), 2 July 1844 (File 63)

Action brought against them by Kennedy.

Henry Bourne (Sydney) to Brown (Ballymulligan), 14 December 1844 (File 64)

Brown's sudden departure; requests payment of balance of account with Allen.

Brown to George Allen, 30 June 1845 (File 65)

Rev. Robert Campbell, executor of George Harris, is sending power of attorney. (copy)

Brown (Ballymulligan) to William Charnels (Sydney), 1 January 1847 (File 66)

Power of attorney sent to Allen; cattle that belonged to George Harris; potato famine.

Brown (Ballymulligan) to William Charnels, 16 February 1847 (File 67)

Power of attorney sent to Allen.

A. Murray (Bathurst) to Margaret Brown, 30 July 1849 (File 68)

Power of attorney was invalid; Robert Harris has returned to Ireland; relatives of Dr Harris should in future confide in Murray alone.

A. Murray (Sydney) to George Harris, Samuel Crooks, Jane Crooks, John Brown and Margaret Brown, 9 December 1851 (File 69)

Acknowledges receipt of power of attorney dated 20 Sept. 1850; declines to arbitrate on John Brown's claim for compensation; transmits bills for £1900. (copy)

Holden and McCarthy (Sydney) to Brown, 11 December 1851 (File 70)

Encloses copy of letter of A. Murray.

Holden and McCarthy (Sydney) to Rev. Robert Campbell (Ballymulligan) (File 71)

Encloses deed of release for his signature as preliminary to receiving one third of cash and bank shares; congratulations on compromise which settled Chancery suit.

Series 4. Financial and other papers, 1840 - 1845

Items of interest include: Bills of exchange, receipts, lists of rents, statements of expenditure, statements of money transmitted to Ireland by John Brown (1841-1844), statement of expenditure of John Brown (1840-1845), lists of stock on stations of John Harris, and a list of tenants on Ultimo Estate (1843).

Archival History

Note: In the papers there are variations in the spelling of several names.