Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Joseph Tilley Brown (1844–1925)

by Susan McCarthy

This article was published:

Joseph Tilley Brown (1844-1925), by Lafayette Studios

Joseph Tilley Brown (1844-1925), by Lafayette Studios

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23252118

Joseph Tilley Brown (1844-1925), politician, was born on 7 February 1844 at Saint John, Surrey, England, son of Joseph Brown, marine captain, and his wife Amelia, née Tilley. He came to Victoria at 7. In 1856-59 he attended Geelong Church of England Grammar School and then began work as a clerk at Bright & Hitchcock, retailers. In December 1863 he joined the Bank of New South Wales, serving at Geelong, Melbourne, Ballarat and elsewhere until his appointment as first manager at Rochester in January 1873. On 6 January 1874 at Christ Church, Rochester, he married Mary Ann, daughter of Thomas Seward, publican.

In January 1875 Brown resigned because of irregularities on the part of a subordinate, and went into a stock and commission agency with his brother-in-law Stephen Seward. At the same time he was a member of the Marathon Co. which acquired land between Echuca and Rochester. In June 1878, at a hearing of the royal commission on the progress of settlement under the 1869 Land Act, he was charged by the Echuca bailiff Charles Tattam with 'boss-cockie dummying'. With some prevarication, Brown admitted that he managed a small group of family and friends to exploit the Act. However, his 'pushing energetic' ways won him as much admiration as dislike in the district. He was president of the Rochester Farmers' Union in 1879 and the Agricultural and Pastoral Society of Echuca in 1881-82, and was active in the Water for the Northern Plains movement and the Decentralization League. A member of the Echuca Shire Council from 1876 he was president in 1888-89.

In 1881 Brown was reported as a partner in the purchase of 350,000 acres (141,641 ha) of virgin land in New South Wales. At the same time he held 9000 acres (3642 ha) in the Echuca district, growing wheat and wool. His partnership with Seward was dissolved in November 1882 with Brown carrying on the business based in Echuca. In 1893 he set up in Collins Street, Melbourne, with his private residence at Hawksburn. By 1905 J. T. Brown & Co. had reopened branches in several country centres, including Chiltern, Violet Town, Wangaratta, Euroa and Seymour; by 1908 he retained only his Wangaratta and Melbourne agencies.

In 1883 Brown had contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Mandurang as a free trader. He was unsuccessful, but by 1886 had adapted his views to win as a moderate protectionist. He was defeated in 1889, and in 1892 ran for Gunbower and in 1893 and 1894 Mandurang. In October 1897 he won the Shepparton-Euroa seat as a supporter of Sir George Turner, retaining it until May 1904 when he failed to win the new seat of Goulburn Valley. Encouraged by his contact with electors in the north-eastern border districts, in 1906 Brown won the Federal seat of Indi, because of his anti-socialist stand and his opposition to the supposed extravagance of the Deakin ministry. He retained the seat until 1910. He contested Indi once more in 1913 but won only 67 votes.

Brown retired to manage a property at Moyhu, south-east of Wangaratta, for some years. Survived by a daughter, he died in hospital at Brighton on 28 September 1925 and was buried in Brighton cemetery. His estate was valued for probate at £12,106.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1879, 3 (72), 1883, 4 (50)
  • Investigator, 4 (1968), no 3
  • Riverine Herald, 21 Apr 1875, May-Dec 1881, Jan-Mar 1886
  • Argus (Melbourne), 3 Feb 1886, 1 Nov, 14 Dec 1906, 30 Sept 1925
  • Shepparton Advertiser, 28 Sept, 1, 8 Oct 1897
  • Weekly Times (Melbourne), 28 Feb 1903
  • Bank of New South Wales Archives (Sydney).

Citation details

Susan McCarthy, 'Brown, Joseph Tilley (1844–1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Joseph Tilley Brown (1844-1925), by Lafayette Studios

Joseph Tilley Brown (1844-1925), by Lafayette Studios

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23252118

Life Summary [details]


7 February, 1844
Saint John, Surrey, England


28 September, 1925 (aged 81)
Brighton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.