Mary Wade Descendants through her son, James Brooker


Mary Wade Descendants through her son, James Brooker


James Brooker


The story of the descendants of Mary Wade through her son James.


The Mary Wade History Association (Editorial Committee)


Mary Wade to us : a family history, 1778-1986. Mary Wade History Association, Cromer, N.S.W, 1986.




N Campbell; V Caldwell.




James Brooker, son of Mary Wade and Jonathan Brooker, was born at Airds in 1814. He was the last known child of Mary Wade. He would have shared the hardships of the pioneering settlers as a small child. James and his elder brother John and his two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, all have baptismal records in St Luke’s church at Liverpool; all entered on the same day in 1819.

The 1828 Census reveals that James, then 14 years old, was living with his parents on a farm on the Illawarra, at Fairy Meadow, near Corrimal. By the 1841 Census, aged 27, he was the owner of three houses in Fairy Meadow. He lived in one of them with his mother, and the other two were rented out. He also had 60 acres in the area.

After his father, Jonathan died in 1833, William inherited his property at Fairy Meadow, and in 1844 it was transferred to James on payment to William of twenty pounds in March 1845. James, aged 38, married Elizabeth Willison Wood on 2.9.1852 at Christ Church, St Laurence, Sydney. Elizabeth was a direct descendant of an old Irish family. She came to Australia in 1849 aboard the Duke of Bronte, together with her mother and her sister, Jane, who later married Edward Harrigan. All three Woods were women of considerable education. Prior to leaving Ireland, Elizabeth had witnessed the funeral of Dan O’Connell and had been associated for five years with a Deaf and Dumb Institution at Claremont. The Woods arrived in Melbourne and, as mentioned in the Harrigan story, shortly after arriving in Wollongong the sisters opened a school at Market Square. In December, 1852, James acquired a crown land block at the Glebe, South Wollongong.

Between 1853 and 1865, five children were born. Louisa Willison (1853), James Albert (1858), Mary Louisa (1860), William Willison (1862) and Rosina (1865). Louisa Willison and William Willison died in infancy.

By 1870, James was a man of property and able to devote considerable time to public life. In 1874 he appeared in debates regarding the establishment of a free library in Wollongong. He was also a considerable writer of letters to newspapers on matters relating to public affairs. He served as an alderman on the North Illawarra Council for several years and was Mayor for two terms. He displayed very considerable intelligence and energy in his work for the public good and was much respected. In 1875 he purchased two houses in central Wollongong opposite the Wollongong Town Hall. In 1879 an exhibition was staged at the local School of Arts; James Brooker exhibited some bonework which was described as ‘the greatest curiosity in the whole collection’. The bonework had been done some 30 years earlier by an old resident of the district employed by Mr A. Beatson and was representations of flora and fauna carved in bone.

In September 1879 James aged 65 years, suffered a severe stroke. The Illawarra Mercury, 23.9.1879, carried the following description: ‘On Saturday, forenoon last, Mr James Brooker of Fairy Meadow was taken seriously ill. It appears that while on his way into town in a dogcart, his right side from the shoulder to the foot suddenly became paralysed. Mrs Allum, of Fairy Meadow (to whom Mr Brooker had given a seat in his dogcart as he was coming along the road) noticed the whip fall out of his hand, and a motion on the part of his body as if he were about to fall helplessly over the side of the vehicle. She at once caught hold of him and thus probably saved him from falling out of the cart onto the road. This occurred about midway between Fairy Creek and the hospital. Mrs Allum at once called for help, and Mr Dennis Williams being just approaching the road from the lane leading to his residence, that gentleman hastened to the assistance of Mr Brooker whom he found quite unable to either speak or move. With the assistance of the others, Mr Williams drove the vehicle with Mr Brooker to the Freemason’s Hotel, where every attention was at once paid to him, and Dr Thomas called in to his aid. After some time the patient’s speech returned a little, and in the course of the afternoon he was removed to his home at Fairy Meadow. We are happy to learn he had somewhat improved on Sunday and yesterday, though still prostrated.

Very great sympathy is felt for Mr Brooker and his family, he being one of the oldest residents of the district, being also very deservedly respected. He has also been wry active and useful as a public man, more especially in connection with the North Illawarra Council of which he was Mayor for several years.

James died 15th March, 1880, and is buried in the Congregational Cemetery. He was survived by his widow, his son, James Albert, and two daughters, Mary Louisa and Rosina. By the terms of James’ will his son, James Albert, received 75 acres at Fairy Meadow and all animals and personal property on it. His wife, Elizabeth, received an annuity of thirty pounds for the term of her life. To his trustees, James Albert (his son) and George Hewitt (a Wollongong Bank Manager), went 400 shares in Mercantile Mutual Company and 500 shares in City Mutual Insurance Co, together with any money, all to be held in Trust and divided equally between his three surviving children, James Albert, Mary Louisa and Rosina.

James’s wife, Elizabeth, died at Gosford on 3rd January 1916, aged 95 at the home of her daughter, Mary Louisa.

The opening sentence of her obituary, published in the Illawarra Mercury on the 14th January, 1916, reads:

‘To have seen the first load of coal shipped from Wollongong and to live until the early days of 1916 was the privilege of Mrs Elizabeth Willison Brooker, who passed away last week at Gosford, aged 95 years.’

It is interesting to note that the following week the Mercury reported the death of Elizabeth’s sister, Jane Harrigan (nee Wood), aged 96 years.

His son James married Catherine Mary Nash on 4th May, 1881. James died at Longreach, Queensland on 22nd October, 1939.

Mary Louisa married twice, first to Walter Hogan on 14th April, 1882, and secondly to William Edward King on 27th April, 1922, with no issue.

Rosina married Robert John Spinks on the 13th December, 1876, and died 20th January, 1944. Although James and Elizabeth had five children, the line only continues through her daughter, Rosina.

Original Format

Mary Wade to us : a family history, 1778-1986. Mary Wade History Association, Cromer, N.S.W, 1986.


The Mary Wade History Association (Editorial Committee), “Mary Wade Descendants through her son, James Brooker,” Mary Wade Family History Association Inc., accessed August 9, 2022,