Thomas Brody b.1854
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Thomas Brody was the second child of Bryan Brody and Mary nee Whelan, being born 20 September 1854 whilst his parents were still in Melbourne. He was baptised at St Francis’ Church on 14 October 1854, with his sponsors being Michael Fitzgerald and Catherine McNamara.
We know little about the life of Thomas. It appears that he spent about 20 years in New South Wales, and 50 years in Victoria, and did not marry. Presumably at one time he lost touch with his family completely, since in 1917 he was believed to be ‘deceased’ by his sister Mary. However we now know that he was alive at that time. He actually died in a river accident at Mildura six years later, on 24th January 1923, aged 68. His name was spelt as ‘Brodie’ on his death certificate.
Mildura is around 400kms north-west of Melbourne, right on the border with New South Wales.
At the inquest into his accidental death an Archibald McInnes, a Constable Dowsett, and an Edward Watson Tapp all gave evidence.
“Edward Tapp said that he had known the deceased for the past eight years, and for the past six weeks he had actually been lodging at his mother’s boarding house in 7th Street, Mildura. The day before his death Thomas had left the house about lunchtime to travel to the town of Merbein, just a few kilometres downstream, to draw out his old age pension, a regular occurrence.
Archibald McInnes stated that he was fishing from a boat at Pinkie Bend on the river at 7.45am the following morning when he saw Thomas undress down to his singlet and underpants, then walk quickly about 25 metres into the river, feeling his way with his feet. When in about 1 metre of water he stroked his hand out, as if about to swim. Instead Thomas walked out into deeper water, put his head under and lifted his hands to his face, then went under water again. He never reappeared.
McInnes rowed over to the area, was unable to locate any bubbles which might indicate an exact spot, so hastened to summon the police.
When Constable Dowsett arrived he organised for the river to be dragged, and at 10.30am the body was found in about 2 metres of water, at a place where the current was very strong. The police notified a sister of Thomas who lived at 95 Lygon Street (Mary) by ‘wire’, and subsequently recovered Thomas’ only worldly possessions, which consisted of one small trunk and one cane basket containing wearing apparel.
Edward Tapp further stated that the deceased had not returned to the boarding-house the previous night, but that Thomas drank little, had never threatened to take his life, and had always been known to him as a ‘good constant man’.
The Deputy Coroner, S. Risbey, found that Thomas “Brodie” died from drowning accidentally”.
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