Basil O’Bryen 1848 – 1920

Basil O’Bryen is one of Ernest O’Bryen’s brothers. More specifically, he is one of the three children of John Roche O’Bryen and Eliza Henderson to survive to adulthood. The others are Mgr Henry, and Corinne Burton.

(William Gregory) Basil O’Bryen was born on the 9th May 1848 in Clifton, Bristol, and died on the 27th March 1920 in Norwood, Adelaide, South Australia.  He married Harriet Matilda Burke on 1st February 1871 at the Pro-Cathedral (now Our Lady of Victories) in Kensington. He was  23, and she was 32.  Harriet was born in 1839 in London, and died 1873 in Eastbourne,  Sussex,aged 34. The O’Bryens, and the Burkes were neighbours in London. The O’Bryens were at 28 Thistle Grove (present day Drayton Gardens) in South Kensington, and the Burkes were two doors down at No 32.

The families, or at least some members of the families, appear to have been close; William Henry Burke, Harriet’s father was a witness to John Roche O’Bryen’s will signed on the 16th May 1870, about two months before his death. William Burke died 12 days before JROB, on the 17th July 1870 at Queenstown (present day Cobh), and Harriet, and Basil were, somewhat curiously, the executors along with George Wood, an accountant in the City.

Basil and Harriet had a son, Basil John Hewitt O’Bryen, who was born on the 21st September 1872 in Torquay, Devon; he appears to have died before 1907. Harriet died on the 28th August the following year (1873) at 34 Cavendish Place, Eastbourne, though her and Basil’s address is given as the Burke family home at 32 Thistle Grove. Basil seems to have obtained probate almost two years later  – by the 30th August 1875. He is now a widower with an eleven month old son, at the age of 25. 

He then marries Agnes Mary Kenny on the 17th May 1874 in Richmond, Surrey, eight days after his twenty-sixth birthday, she was twenty three.  She was born in 1851 in Richmond, Surrey, and died 15th August 1924, at Convent Lodge, Harrow. 

Basil and Agnes have four children:

  • Oswald 1876 – 1895, aged 18. 
  • Mary 1877 – 1880, aged 3.
  • Cecilia 1880 – 1880, within a year of her birth
  • Gladys 1883 -1960, aged 77.

Basil abandons his family in London sometime in the 1880’s, and reappears in Australia, where he marries Harriet Edwards in 1894. At this point he is forty six years old, and she is twenty nine. Assuming the information in the John Elworthy post is correct – “Apparently re-marriage after seven years of no contact with a previous wife was legal in Australia in the C19th. In English law, he would have been regarded as a bigamist.” We can assume that Basil would have been in Australia from at least 1887.

Basil and Harriet (nee Edwards) O’Bryen had two children.

  • William Basil O’Bryen, 1896 – 1974 
  • Eileen O’Bryen, 1895 – unknown

Both married, and had children in Australia.

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