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Charles Ferdinand Brigstocke (c. 1807–1859)

by Nan Phillips

This article was published:

Charles Ferdinand Brigstocke (1807?-1859), Church of England clergyman, was born at Llawhaden, Wales, son of Rev. Thomas Brigstocke and his wife Elizabeth, née Phelps. He was educated for the church at St David's, Lampeter, and ordained by the bishop of Worcester. With a recommendation from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the approval of the bishop of London, Brigstocke was appointed a chaplain in New South Wales on 31 March 1838 by the Colonial Office, with an allowance of £150 for outfitting and passage. His stipend began on his arrival at Sydney in the Fairlie in December. After serving briefly at Ryde he was sent as an itinerant missionary to Yass.

Brigstocke conducted services on three Sundays a month in Yass and visited widely scattered stations and towns in a district which included Tumut, Gundagai, Binalong, Boorowa, Adelong and Tarcutta. Like Revs. Edward Smith at Queanbeyan and Robert Cartwright of Collector, and other itinerant ministers, he sometimes served in the 'no-man's land' outside his district. Bishop William Broughton made several visits to this southern region and frequently lamented the lack of religious instruction in the young, the apathy of the adults and the absence of regular church services. Brigstocke accompanied him on some of these journeys and in 1840 the bishop referred to the immense size of Brigstocke's task and the need to divide his parish.

In 1841 Brigstocke's ministry was interrupted by the appearance of an anonymous letter in the Sydney Herald, charging the local police magistrate 'with breaking the Sabbath and countenancing moral laxity in the neighbourhood by riding to hounds on the Sabbath'. Rumour attributed this letter to Brigstocke and on 19 May 1843 his licence was suspended by Bishop Broughton 'for the period during which an investigation will be made into charges preferred against him by Richard Hardy, Esq., Justice of the Peace, in a letter to His Excellency the Governor'. On 29 May Rev. William Lisle was licensed as locum tenens at Yass and Revs. Robert Allwood, Thomas Hassall, Robert Forrest, George Napoleon Wood and William Stone were appointed as commissioners of inquiry. They sat at Berrima in September to carry out 'a careful … comparison between the handwriting and peculiarities of the said letter and the usual style and character of the avowed handwriting of … Brigstocke'. They found that although there was considerable suspicion there also was insufficient evidence that he had written the letter, and they recommended that the bishop take no further proceedings. Brigstocke was reinstated as incumbent at Yass in December. He won an action in the Supreme Court against Hardy for malicious libel, but was awarded damages of only a farthing instead of the £1000 he claimed.

Although several other ministers were later appointed to the southern districts, Brigstocke's parish remained very large. In June 1845 he was allowed £13 for religious instruction in remote districts and in April 1846 an additional £15 for the religious instruction of convicts at Yass. On 17 July 1852 he buried seventy-three victims of the great Gundagai flood. When Brigstocke had arrived at Yass there was neither church nor parsonage. He lived in a hut and services were held first in the court-house and then in a small building near the river, until 1847 when St Clement's was opened, built to the design of Edmund Thomas Blacket. Brigstocke also built a rectory and school and served as secretary of the Yass subscription library and the church fund.

At Yass on 9 April 1844 he married Susan (1827?-1878), third daughter of Dr William Adye and his wife Harriott, née Howell (1795?-1865), who had arrived in Sydney in October 1841 with their family and settled at Boamboll, Murrumbidgee. Brigstocke died at Yass on 11 October 1859, aged 53; his wife died at Muswellbrook on 23 October 1878, aged 51. They were survived by five children, two others having died in infancy. Memorial plaques are at St Clement's Church, Yass.

Select Bibliography

  • R. T. Wyatt, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn (Syd, 1937)
  • J. H. Watson, ‘Old Yass Identities’, Scottish Australian, vol 11, Jan 1920, pp 7254-62
  • newspaper indexes under Brigstocke (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Nan Phillips, 'Brigstocke, Charles Ferdinand (c. 1807–1859)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 15 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


c. 1807
Llawhaden, Pembrokeshire, Wales


11 October, 1859 (aged ~ 52)
Yass, New South Wales, Australia

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