For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,In 1990, a friend of mine found some documents during the demolition of an old building associated with St David's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania. He showed the documents to me, and invited me to take them away and examine them.
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, —
Thu 3rd July ?The moment the churchwarden's meeting ended, the editor of "The Mercury" must have been informed of its proceedings because a detailed account was published in the newspaper the very next day, Tuesday, 29th July, 1962.
Mr Wilson, Tailor, 27 Macquarie Street. About a fortnight ago he went to Archdn. Davies & obtained an order for the burial of Wm. Naybor of Cresswell's Row. He was directed to go to Brown the Sexton who said, There is my fee & there will be a little wanted for the grave digger, a few shillings. Wilson asked what it would be. Brown replied, "2/6 for himself and 3/- or 3/6 to give the Grave digger." Wilson remarked "that the deceased man had died very poor and asked to know if 5/- wouldn't do." Brown reluctantly consented. Wilson paid the 5/- in the burial ground in the presence of a kinsman residing in Macquarie Street, remarking "here is half a Crown for you and half a Crown for the grave digger." Wilson then went to the grave digger & saw Brown put something into his hand."
Mrs. Henson. Tues 15 July
Says that on the death of her little boy on the 22nd June Mr. Gray the Missionary went to the Archdeacon and arranged that the Charges for the funeral were to be remitted.
That on the following Wednesday the Child was buried in St. Davids burial ground, that Brown the Sexton demanded 5/- alleging that it was for the digging of the grave and that Henson, the father, paid the 5/- as demanded.
Mr. Gray was informed of the fact when he next called at the house of Mrs. Henson. Brown also called at the house and Mrs. Henson complained to him of the Charge of 5/- having been made. Brown made no reply but made a remark that Henson did not want the body to be taken into the Church. Mrs. Henson said that her husband did want the body to be taken into the Church and for that purpose had the Cab driven to the Church.
Brown said that it was a free funeral & that the body was to go direct to the ground. Henson was spoken to on the subject at the Church door by a gentleman connected with one of the newspapers. Henson is expected in town next Friday.
Thomas Henson says he returned from the Huon on the 20th May having been absent from Town more than a fortnight. On the Monday after the death of his child he went to the Church and saw Browne. Browne then said you must bring in a certificate of the death and you must give me half a Crown and also a half Crown for the Grave digger. He also said you must bring the child to the Church at exactly three oClock. Henson attended at 3 oClock as told so to do and took the body out of the Cab, at the Gate Browne came and said "Take the body to the ground & do not bring it in."A stout gentleman was standing by and said to me, "My good man, you are a poor man, take the child into the Church, and I will see into it for you." Browne overheard the observation and then said to me "You can take the body into the Church and there wait until the other funeral is done." I felt annoyed & not wishing any disturbance I went to the ground and waited half an hour until the other corpse came. After the service had been read Browne came to me and asked me my name and also the name of the child. I told him. He then held out his hand and asked me for the fee. I said "I do not know what Hobarton charges were." Here are the two half crowns that you told me to bring you." Brown took the money. I wished him good day, thanked him & left the burial ground.
Stewart Graham. Saith, I am Sexton of St. Davids burial ground. I remember the burial of Wm. Naybor. I knew that the Archdeacon had remitted the fees. My wife told me so. After the funeral was over Brown put a half Crown into my hand in the presence of Mr. Wilson saying at the same time "Here is what Mr. Wilson has given to me for you." I took the money. I believed the gift to be perfectly voluntary on Mr Wilson's part. Graham Stewart
I Stewart Graham also saith that I remember the burial of Thomas Henson's child. I was standing at the Gate when the child was brought to the burial ground. Henson waited for nearly half an hour before the other body was brought. After the service was over I heard Brown talking to Henson. I observed no money paid to Browne. I was busy at the time. Browne did not give me any money on that occasion or subsequently for digging the grave for Henson's child. Since I have been Sexton I have not received more than half a Crown from Browne for digging a grave and that was in Wm. Naybor's case. Some people have voluntarily given me money for digging and filling in graves, perhaps about six times, and not more than seven shillings altogether.
I was aware that Browne demanded monies on my account in the case of pauper funerals. The undertakers told me so, and I have two or three times mentioned the subject to Browne who used to remark "that he might as well make a few shillings as not, his salary was not so very much."
28th July 1862
A meeting of the Church-wardens of St. David's Cathedral was held at the Vestry on
WednesdayMonday the 28th. July 1862 at 3 o'C P.M. to receive evidence on a charge brought against Benjamin Brown, the Sexton, for refusing to admit the Body of a Child into the Church, and further for illegally demanding and receiving certain fees for Pauper Burials. Present Churchwardens. T.Giblin, N.Gresley, H.Cook. H.Cook in the chair –
After a careful examination into the evidence taken & a patient hearing afforded to the accused the Churchwardens decided as follows viz -
that Benjamin Brown shall immediately express contrition to Messrs. Henson & Wilson for his conduct, and refund to them & all other Persons from whom he had illegally & improperly exacted fees, the several sums so obtained - as a further mark of their extreme displeasure they order a fine of 50/- (fifty shillings) to be paid to the Benevolent Society This order to be complied with to the satisfaction of Mr. Gresley within 7 (seven) days, in default, dismissal from office to ensue. Brown to be severely reprimanded & cautioned as to his future conduct.
To The Venerable The Archdeacon DaviesWhat Archdeacon Davies thought after reading that letter, one can have no idea but surely he must have been appalled. Brown has not an atom of contrition and is contemptible in not only lying about his fellow workmate but accusing him of lying. What an utterly despicable creature!
The Churchwardens of St. David
In the two cases of Naybor and Henson I beg most humbly and respectfully to say I made no demands in either case and that in the first (Naybor's) I received 5/- & gave the Grave Digger 2/6 which he admits to have received.
In the case of Henson I received a like amount of 5/- and paid the Grave Digger 2/6 as in the first case and although he denies receiving it I do respectfully assure you Gentlemen upon the honor of a man that I did pay him that amount
In conclusion I beg to express my sorrow that these affairs have occurred and humbly promise to take every precaution in future to prevent a like occurrence taking place and
Ever Respectfully Remain
Your humble Servant
Benjamin Hall Brown
28th. July 1862
Mrs. Clark, Collins Street. Lost her husband 4 months ago. Makes a complaint against Brown for abuse, and was afraid, gave him 2/6. Interfered altho not asked.This episode had occurred two months before the case that brought about Brown's downfall. Just how many people in total had Brown swindled over the years? On the evidence of Mrs Clark, Brown ought to have been ordered not to go anywhere near her, or any of his victims. Each of his possible victims needed to be approached by a church representative and enquiries made. Now, it would be seen as a good thing that Brown had not been dismissed – he can be kept working and his wages used, or garnisheed, to make restitution. Only after all of his victims had been recompensed ought he be dismissed. Brown would have to comply or he could be given in charge and, maybe, serve a lengthy term of penal servitude in Port Arthur.
Brown's behavior was impertinent, officiousness, exhibiting a pompous authority.
|Jonathan Clark||Collins St||29/4/62||74|
|1William Neighbour||Cresswell Row||18/6/62||69||* buried 20/6/62|
|Eliza Way||Collins St||22/6/62||3||* buried 25/6/62|
|John Henson||2Watchorn St||1/1/55||22/6/62||7||* buried 25/6/62|
|Margaret Henson||Watchorn St||
|James Henson||Watchorn St||31/8/62||30/5/63||0|
|Philadelphia Henson||27/1/54||m. William Curtis
d. 2, s. 1
|Elizabeth Henson||1/5/58||m. Charles Tims
d. 4, s. 2
|Benjamin Hall Brown||1815?||28/12/75||61|
|from St David's ledger|
|27/12/62||Brown & Graham [weekly]
£ 3 / 0 / 0
|31/12/62||Browne [left St David's]||17/- to date|
|entry||H Browne for collecting||
|entry||Cooper & Graham [weekly]||£ 3 / 0 / 0|
|LEX SCRIPTA MANET||the written law|
|Stone Buildings||corner of Macquarie and Murray Streets|
|Cab||possibly a Broughton's cab (based in Macquarie St.)|
|Jan 1868||New cathedral foundation stone laid by H.R.H. Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Henry Cook was appointed his tailor.|
|Tasmanian Archives Online|