The Brinsmeads down under

Brinsmead Migrations to Australia and New Zealand

New Zealand


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Reuben and Louisa Brinsmead

Henry and Jemima Brinsmead

CJ and Laura Brinsmead

The Barker Family

John Brinsmead from Exeter

More Australian Brinsmeads

Henry and Betsy Brinsmead

We know more about Henry and Betsy Brinsmead's passage to Australia than most others because they wrote home to their friends and family in St. Giles in the Wood and their letter was published in the North Devon News. The letter is dated December 8th 1851 and was written at least four months after their arrival in the Port Phillip area.

Henry and Betsy's letter home

Betsy Brinsmead was a daughter of Thomas Brinsmead and Margery Squire. She was born in St. Giles in the Wood in about 1807. At age 21 on Dec 17, 1829 she married John Hackwill. They had two children; John Hackwill born in 1831 and Thomas Brinsmead Hackwill born 1834.  Her husband John died a young man in about 1834. After that Betsy married her cousin and brother-in-law Henry Brinsmead (her sister Ann having married William Brinsmead).

Henry and Betsy had five additional children.

Henry's letter refers to the abundance of gold. The Geelong Advertiser of November 12, 1851 reports that he had 17 oz of gold shipped to Geelong under escort, as part of a total shipment of 674 oz shared among other local residents who went to the goldfields.

Henry Brinsmead's Death

Henry Brinsmead died suddenly on November 6th, 1879 at his farm in Port Henry, Geelong. A Magistrates Inquest provides some details of his death. The inquest was held just two days after his death and several people provided statements or evidence. The examining doctor, after an autopsy,  provided his opinion that Henry had died from the rupture of a pulmonary artery and that his upper lungs were infected by consumption (TB). He otherwise had a health heart and was well nourished.

 The police officer called to the scene, Sergeant Swale gave the following statement:

I beg to state that I have just been informed by Mr. Thomas Hackwill that at about 12 o'clock today Mr. Henry Brinsmead died very suddenly at his residence at Port Henry. The deceased was about 66 years of age and had suffered from chest disease for a number of years.
He left his house today for the purpose of calling one of his men to dinner and in about half an hour afterwards his wife found him lying dead near his garden fence with blood flowing from his nose and mouth.

Henry's wife Betsy, his step-son Thomas Hackwill, and Thomas's son William Henry Hackwill also provided statements. William Henry said:

I knew the deceased he was my grandfather his name was Henry Brinsmead. I saw him this morning at half after 10 o'clock. He then seemed in good health. He was in the paddock where I was working about half after 11 o'clock the deceased's wife Betsy Brinsmead called me saying come quick father is dead. I came and found him close to the garden fence quite dead. There was blood on his face. I assisted my father to carry him into the house where he still lies.

 Henry's step-son Thomas Hackwill gave much the same account and added that:

...he was very temperate in his habits.  He has been ailing for years with a very severe cough, no doctor attended him. He was taking medicine when the fits of cough came on if he was not supported he would fall. He had a happy home.

Betsy said:

I am the wife of the deceased Henry Brinsmead he was 66 years of age. He has been ailing for years he would not go to a doctor although I often wished him to do so. Between 10 and 11 o'clock this morning I cooked his meal for him which he eat and he seemed rather better than usual. He left me about half after 10 o'clock to see his grandson who was mowing and in about one hour I went up the garden and close to the fence I saw him lying on his back quite dead. There was blood on his face. He was very temperate in his habits.