Mary Garde-Browne

Born, circa 1845 (or 1847?)
Married, William Henry Free 1874, Auckland
Died, September 1922, New Plymouth, NZ




Right: Mary Free, at the wedding of her son W R H Free in 1908.

Currently, the only formal records of the Garde-Brown branch of the family are the wedding details of John Garde-Brown in 1847. The chart above is based in the Estate information of Coolcour House (listed at the bottom on this page). While the records are said to be complete for Church of Ireland parishes in and around Macroom there are no matching records for John Browne, Mary Garde, William Garde or William Browne across Ireland. The only Mary Browne is a foundling baptised 28 Oct 1846 in Mallow (abt 50kms from Macroom). Unfortunately, many of the Church of Ireland records were lost in the fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922. 

The Garde-Browne’s certainly had significant land holdings in the County Cook area and were not Roman Catholic. It appears likley that Mary’s father was a direct descendant of the Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Cork (Rev Peter Browne 1665-1735) and her direct Grade-Browne ancestory to Rev Richard Browne is clearly Church of Ireland.

Mary was born at the beginning of the great famine (1845-1853) and this surely shaped her upbringing.

From oral family history we know there is a strong connection from her to Coolcower House, County Cork, Ireland.  Coolcower House (a ‘Big House’) was targetted by the Irish Republican Army on 11 July 1921 and was burnt down – which was a common practice during the revolutionary period (1919-1923).  A new Coolcower House was built in the same place and is how a hotel.

In Kate Free’s will (Mary’s daughter)  she bequeaths her ‘framed photograph of my grandfather William Grade-Brown’. 

Travel to New Zealand
Mary travels on the “Queen of the Age” from London departing on 16 November 1873 and arriving Auckland, New Zealand on 2 March 1874. Her age on boarding is listed as 25 and occupation as a Servant, there is no mention of Grade in her name and her surname is spelt as Browne. The trip was eventfull:

She struck heavy weather at the start, followed by light north-east trade winds, crossing the Equator on December 18, 32 days out from Gravesend. The south-east trades, which were fallen in with two days later, were also light, and the meridian of the Cape was not passed until January 12th. The vessel made a good run thence to Tasmania of 29 days. Here she encountered severe gales from the north-east, which continued for several days, followed by calms and light winds, until sighting the New Zealand coast. White Wings: Sir Henry Brett

and in the New Zealand Herald, March 3rd 1874



The New Zealand Company’s ship Queen of the Age, in command of Captain Montgomerie, arrived in harbour last night after an average passage of 106 days. On coming up the harbour our reporter put off to her, but was unable to get on board of the ship until Dr Philson had visited her. He was however informed that there had been no sickness on the passage. Captain Montgomerie kindly sent a written report of the passage down to the boat.

The Queen of the Age brings 165 immigrants. On the police going off, they were informed that some of the crew would have to be arrested on a charge of broaching the cargo. We cull the following particulars from the report supplied by the Captain:- Left Gravesend on November 16th and landed the pilot off Torbay on the 18th. Winds light from E, with thick hazy weather. Passed the start light at 10.30 p. m. the wind veering to S. E. and freshening. At noon of the following day was about 30 miles to N. W. p m. of Ushant. Wind light from N. E. On the 28th passed to the westward of the Island of Madeira; winds light from the east. Passed also to the west of the Canaries. The N. E. trades were very light and remained so. Passed to the eastward of the Cape of Verde Islands. Nothing but light westerly and easterly winds to the equator, which was crossed on the 18th December in Longitude 26. 47 west, 32 days from Gravesend. The S. E. trades were fallen in on the 20th; but they were also very light. Passed the meridian of the Cape on the 12th January in 42 deg 13 mins S. Passed the S. W. point of Tasmania on Feb 9th, 29 days from the Cape.

On the previous day one of the men named Frederick Holmes fell overboard. It was blowing an increasing gale at the time. The ship was rounded to and the life boat cleared away, but the man had disappeared and could not be seen from aloft. Captain Montgomerie thought it advisable not to risk losing other lives by sending a boat away from the ship as a heavy N. W. gale was blowing and night was coming on. On February 14th the same heavy squalls were met with. On the some of the crew broke open the coal-hole scuttle, as also the bulkhead and got amongst the cargo, where they broke open several of the cases and appropriated the contents of flannel and crimean shirting patterns. The Captain’s attention was first drawn by seeing several of the woman making shirts. On being interrogated as to where they got the material from they said they had it from some of the sailors. The whole of the material was recovered, and the sailors were given into custody on arrival in harbour last night.

Mary’s trip was paid by the NZ Government (part of Julius Vogel’s assistance scheme) where selected migrants and those nominated by relatives where given passage to New Zealand. It is unclear if Mary was nominated (quite possible) or selected because she met the criteria (which she did). In the immigration record (held at NZ Archives) she appears on the page ‘Colonial Nominated’ although separately she was advanced £1 on 12 November 1873 (prior to departure) for “Outfit Money”. She traveled alone (and identified as a single woman) and was originally from Cork, Ireland. There where no other passengers with Brown/e or Grade as a surname on the ship.

In the Intension to Marry record (essentially a marriage licence) dated 21 May 1874 W H Free lists himself as 47 years of age, occupation as a Gardiner and his residence of Taranaki but had been in Auckland for 3 days. Mary is listed as Mary Brown, no “Garde” mentioned, occupation of Servant, aged 25 and resident of Auckland of 10 weeks. They married at St Patrick’s Church, Auckland with Rev. W. McDonald officiating.

Another link with the early days of Taranaki has been severed in the death of Mrs Mary Free, who passed away at her residence, Eliot Street, New Plymouth, yesterday morning at the age of 77. Born on June 24, 1844, Mrs Free was the eldest daughter of Mr Grade Brown, of Coolcower House, Macroom, County Cork Ireland. Miss Brown arrived in Auckland in 1874, and shortly afterwards married Mr William Henry Free, making their home in New Plymouth in that year. After her arrival in New Plymouth Mrs Free never moved beyond Taranaki, and she and her husband become well known in the community. Mr Free was particularly well known, having served in the 58th Regiment prior to his marriage, and also in the Taranaki Volunteers during the Maori wars. He predeceased his wife by about three and half years, passing away at the advanced age of 94 years. Mrs Free is survived by two sons, Mr W. R. Free of the Telegraph Department, and Mr H. J. Free, of Te Kuiti, and by two daughters, Mrs M. Marvell, Hamilton, and Miss K. Free, assistant librarian at the Carnegie Institute, New Plymouth, who have received many expressions of sympathy in their bereavement. The funeral took place privately this morning.  Hawera & Normanby Star, 9 September 1922

Mary died in 1922, and was buried at Te Huni Cemetery on 8 September 1922, aged 77.

Right, screenshot of the Browne Estate research link on which the family chart at the top of this page is based. retrieved 22 June 2017