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Hamilton-Browne
Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 436
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Mike Snook wrote in his book (HCMDB page 38 ) that Hamilton-Browne had changed his name in later life from just plain Browne (which is what writers should refer to him as in 1879). He further writes that he was born Richard Burke around 1849. Absence of proper footnotes prevents any checking of these statements.
All this is news to me, I’m afraid, and though I’m quite prepared to be proved wrong, I’ve taken this as far as I can so I thought I’d throw it open to the forum to seek enlightenment.
1) As far as I can research Hamilton-Browne is named as Hamilton-Browne in contemporary 1879 sources (read the pages of the Standard or Natal Mercury newspapers of 1879 or more easily look at page 21 of Norris-Newman’s book published 1880 and The Red Book p. 25). It is true that his name is shortened to Browne in appendices and on certain other occasions but it is certainly true that the first reference to the man in contemporary sources is invariably as Hamilton-Browne.
2) I can find no evidence to support the statement that H-B was born Richard Burke. He was born in Ireland, probably between 1848 and 1851. He claimed that his father was George Browne, a major in the 44th Regiment; his mother's name is unknown (Hamilton perhaps?). Hamilton-Browne wrote two books about the New Zealand wars in which he claimed to have fought: With the lost legion in New Zealand (1911) and Camp fire yarns of the lost legion (1913). The former seems to be a participant's detailed account of the campaigns against Titokowaru and Te Kooti. Its fictionalised hero and narrator, Richard Burke, is a young Irish gentleman who, after early training as a British officer, becomes a colonial scout, eventually gaining a commission in the Armed Constabulary. Burke participates in every important action of the period, the military career portrayed approximating the actual one of Christopher Louis Maling of the Corps of Guides. In his later book Hamilton-Browne abandons the fictional 'Richard Burke' pseudonym and identifies himself as the narrator but he does not claim that Richard Burke was his real name. Furthermore I can find no reference to his ever having made such a statement.
I may have missed something here or Mike Snook may have misread something; either way can anyone shed any further light?
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Julian

You probably remember various postings on this forum about Hamilton Browne's origins, travels and death a year or so back, and I don't think it was the first time these details had been aired. I recall Keith Smith had completed some research - perhaps on his death in Jamaica if I remember correctly?

However, it would appear that a great grand-daughter of Hamilton Browne, and her husband, have undertaken considerable genealogical research on "Maori" and a year or so ago I received a lengthy email from the husband of this descendant, who lives in South Africa, and who outlined to me the results of their research.

According to their research, it would appear that George Hamilton Browne (with or without hyphen) was not, in fact, born in Ireland after all - but near Cheltenham, Glos! This was apparently on 22 Dec 1844, his parents being Major George Browne (35th Reg't) & Susannah Mary (nee Hilton) daughter of a Capt Hilton. The parents were married on 7 March 1844 Manchester. [From a brief perusal of these very lengthy genealogical notes, I take it that his surname at birth was Browne, and the middle name Hamilton came down through the family from at least as early as his grandfather's generation. I know that it was extremely common for middle names to gradually become adopted as double-barrelled surnames in Victorian times during the lifetime of the bearer, as well as hyphens to materialise here and there, sometimes adopted by other family members and sometimes not].

The genealogical notes in the email I received include detailed descriptions of his eight siblings and various ancestors and descendants (names, dates places, occupations - many military) & the biographical notes on GHB himself are very extensive and include a detailed "timeline" of his life as well. He was even more travelled than I had realised. Comber House, in Ireland, which has been mentioned before on these H-B threads, was not - according to these notes - his birthplace but he appears to have visited it several times. GHB's father apparently inherited a number of properties in both Ireland and England when GHB was young.

He appears to have spent the AZW "commuting" between Zululand & Cape Town, apparently travelling down there after Isandlwana, returning for Ginghindlovu(!) & popping back down there to marry just five months after Isandlwana!!!

Obviously, I cannot verify any of this myself but the email - which runs to six full pages - contains extensive genealogical and biographical details, much of it apparently supported by references, and an impression is gained of some diligent research over a number of years. The email was sent to me after the writer had seen my name on this very forum & wondered if the details would be of interest to me. (I had assumed he had copied it also to a number of other contributors but another look at the headings tonight doesn't indicate this. Perhaps others have been sent it separately?) I recall thinking at the time that this will now sort out all the anomalous problems about GHB once and for all, but perhaps I was the only recipient? It may be the writer was aware of my occupation & wrote to me, I don't know. Anyway, I acknowledged it and thanked him & am reminded of it now by Julian's enquiry above.

As the writer contacted me direct and not via the forum I won't post his name and email address here, but in view of his kind offer to forward further details (incl. photos) if required, I have little doubt he would welcome correspondence from genuinely interested enquirers & would not object to my disseminating his detailed notes to same. So if anyone who is interested contacts me direct, I'll pass on the details & copy the account if required. The easiest method for me would be to photocopy & mail/airmail the 6 pages to whoever is genuinely interested.

Peter
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Julian

Peter is quite correct - I have done some research on Hamilton-Browne for my MA thesis. Much of the material I have used on his life was drawn from Major G.Tylden, “Commandant George Hamilton-Browne of the Colonial Forces”, Journal for the Society of Army Historical Research, Vol. 37, 1959, pp. 153-160. There is no mention there of his proper name being Burke and I believe that Peter's suggestion of the use of the name in his NZ book is probably the origin. Tylden was my own source for his Irish birth. I think Peter is also correct in the use of his middle name as a hyphenated surname - Penn Symons went almost as far, since he is rarely known as William P. Symons.

Peter

If you can manage it, I would very much like to receive the data on him although I am not sure how you would get it to me. Write off-line and we can discuss it.

KIS
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Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 436
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Peter
So I was therefore correct in stating that Hamilton-Browne was known by that name in 1879 as evidenced in contemporary documents.
I would also be interested in receiving the e-mail you mentioned.

Keith
And I am correct in stating that Richard Burke was not H-B's previous name.
Penn Symons is an interesting example in that he was known as either Capt Symons or as W P Symons but I have it via the family that he never used Penn Symons as a surname. The Penn was a middle Christian name which he preferred to William.
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Keith - will do

Julian - no mention in the notes of the Burke name, even though the compiler of the research notes is perfectly familiar with the contents of GHB's books. You will, I am sure, be able to ascertain from the notes or from the compiler exactly how he styled himself at different periods of his life.

It is very important to remember that the way a surname was written in vital records was often at the whim of the registrar, clergyman, clerk or their informant - although admittedly more of these anomalies arise in less literate families, which wouldn't apply in this case.

Contacting both of you direct.

Peter
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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AMB

Andrew, I rec'd your private message on this thread last w/end & responded. Did you receive it? Not sure I've mastered this rdvc private message system yet, as two I've sent appear not to have arrived, despite apparently sending them by identical methods. One lies in my "outbox" instead of "sentbox" & the other has disappeared into the ether.

If you prefer to use my email address, go ahead. (I now await my private coaching lesson from Alan or Peter!) Smile

Peter
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Hamilton-Browne
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