James Brown Edney

Summary information

Name James Brown Edney
Date of birth 7 April 1832
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 17 March 1922
Place of death Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Mother Elizabeth Webster
Father John Robertson Edney
Siblings Martha Webster Edney
Kenneth McDonald Edney
John Edney I
unnamed Edney
Spouse Elizabeth Welsh
Date of marriage 31 May 1852
Place of marriage St. John's Cross Church, Tay Street, Dundee, Scotland
Children Martha Simpson Edney
Elizabeth Webster Edney
James Welsh Edney
Mary Welsh Edney
Barbara Robertson Edney
David Edney III
William Murray Edney
Alexander Chalmers Edney
Helen Douglas Edney
John Robertson (Jack) Edney
Jesse Anderson Edney
George Harrison Edney I
Walter Scott Edney
Occupation Moulder, brassfounder, farmer, blacksmith, many others

Other information

James Brown ("JB") Edney initially lived in Edinburgh at Todrick's Wynd. But in 1933, with the conviction and transportation to Australia of his father, he moved with his mother to Dundee to live with his mother's family. By 1851, the household at 1 St David's Lane Dundee comprised James (aged 18) and his mother Elizabeth, grandmother Martha, and another woman called Susan Robertson.

James became an apprentice as a brassfounder in Dundee. In the early 1850s, he met and married Elizabeth Welsh, and promptly produced their first child, Martha Simpson Edney. Two further children followed: Elizabeth Webster Edney and James Welsh Edney. Like their parents, James and Elizabeth saw the death of many children, with Elizabeth and then Martha dying in 1857 and 1858.

The family may have been nomadic for a period, with Elizabeth Webster Edney’s birth being recorded in Glennock, and her death in Forfar, Fife, but the family was back in Dundee by 1857. Recorded addresses for the family in Scotland are:

7 April 1855 Brownlies Court - 20 Cathcrt St Greenock
29 January 1857 31 Hunter St Dundee
20 July 1857 40 Hawkhill Dundee
28 April 1858 29 Hunter St Dundee

It was at this time that the family received word from JB's father in Australia. John Robertson Edney had completed his convict sentence, purchased a property in Wagga Wagga, and was to pay for his wife to travel to Australia to join him. James and Elizabeth decided to accompany James’ mother to Australia, with their now only child, James Welsh Edney.

John Robertson paid a remittance of 15 pounds to bring his wife Elizabeth out from Scotland, while JB paid 15 pounds for himself, his wife and son to accompany Elizabeth. They traveled on board the Caribou, leaving Liverpool on 7 July 1859 and arriving in Sydney on 4 October 1859. Elizabeth gave birth to another child, Mary Welsh Edney, on the voyage.

The Caribou carried about 370 passengers and 40 crew. The Edneys were among the minorty on board, with the majority of passengers being roman catholic, could not read or write, had no relations already in Australia, and were being transported as part of the Irish Donegal Relief Fund. The Edneys were literate, and presbyterian.


The long walk to Wagga Wagga

On arrival in Sydney, John Robertson had sent message that he was delayed in meeting them. James and his family stayed on the ship until accommodation was found, and James gained some short-term employment in Sydney. John Robertson arrived in late November, and accompanied the family back to Waga Wagga. Due to the poorly developed roads at the time (and rail only going as far as Campbelltown), the family walked the entire 310 mile journey, leaving Sydney on 30 November and arriving in Wagga Wagga on 22 December.

In Wagga Wagga, the family moved onto property purchased by John Robertson (later called Mount Edney Farm). The family ran a saw pit on the property and James and his father built many wooden buildings in the area.1

The first foundry in Wagga Wagga was established by James Brown Edney in a small wooden building. He used a fan blast driven by ‘hand power’ and used charcoal as there was no coke and the only metal available was old axle boxes or old broken pots. Moulding sane in good temper and shells for the lime were difficult to fund. He made barrow wheels as they were both scare and expensive and case a new body for James Gormly’s first (then the only) iron single furrow plough.2

JB played clarinet in the Wagga Wagga Town Band, which was formed in the 1860s. The bandmaster was James Simpson who led with an E flat clarinet. The other members included R S. (‘Dick’) Heydon on bass, Harry Strusz on tenor horn, James Pike and Ed Stidworth on cornets, Joe Thompson on kettle drum, James McAuley on clarinet, Tom Jones on the big drum, Fred Heather on slide trombone and George Crowder on the sax horn. Their first concert was performed to a 'bumper house' in the Court House after a parade through the streets.3

James and Elizabeth has another nine children after they settled in Wagga Wagga, with the youngest, Walter, being born in 1880 when JB was 48.

James Brown Edney was also a Wagga Wagga Council Alderman from 1895-98 and at that time his occupation is recorded as farmer. In 1899 he is again listed as Alderman and his occupation given as gunsmith.4

JB wrote Reminiscences about the family's experiences in sailing from England to Sydney, the long walk to Wagga Wagga, and the people and events during his life in Wagga Wagga. This document has been used as a source by a number of authors writing about the history of Wagga Wagga, and is held by the Wagga Wagga Historical Society.


1851 Census record Marriage entry JB Edney & Son shop
census JamesEdneyElizabethWelshMarriage JBEdneyandSOnsshop
Death cert Obituary Funeral Notices Funeral
JamesBrownEdneyDeath Obituary-TheDailyAdvertiser-Sat19220318-pg5-Roll53(SL) FuneralNotices-TheDailyAdvertiser-Sat19220318-pg5-Roll53(SL) FuneralJBEdney
Lands: JB Edney res. JB Edney on Oates Ave Present day Oates Ave
Lands-JBEdney-1941-zoom-in Lands-JBEdney-1941-zoom-out
Gunsmith article Gormly Indexes - part 1 Gormly Indexes - part 2
18690107-TheEveningNews GormlyIndexesPart1 GormlyIndexesPart2


Caribou passenger list v1
Caribou passenger list v2
Caribou crew
Article on ships involved in Donegal Relief program
Grevilles 1872 Post Office directory

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