Victor Drury - The Merchants of Brisbane

The leading merchants in the early 1880s were Messrs. D. L. Brown and Co., of Eagle Street. This company was later formed into a limited liability company under the name of Thomas Brown and Sons Limited. Mr. Thomas Brown was D. L. Brown’s eldest brother and had sent him out to open a soft goods warehouse in Brisbane in the 1860s. Later, the company acquired the Short Street wharf and stores where they erected an up-to-date dumping plant and did a large business shipping wool overseas.

Messrs. Parbury, Lamb & Co., were also in Eagle Street. Their manager was the Hon. E. B. Forrest, who also represented the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Queensland. Mr. Forrest was member for North Brisbane and was defeated by Mr. M. J. Kirwan. Mr. Forrest was for years a member of the Upper House and a great yachtsman. He sailed the Charm and later the Isabel in many regattas.

Mr. Ernest Goertz was a wine and spirit merchant in Eagle street and lived at Hilderstone, Kangaroo Point, surrounded by beautiful grounds running down to the River. Messrs. Barker and Co., adjoined D. L. Brown’s property and nearby were Messrs. Gibbs, Bright & Co. The Hon. Frederick Hamilton Hart, M.L.C., was manager, and he was also chairman for many years of the Queensland National Bank Limited.

Messrs. George Raff and Co., were in Eagle Street, and later amalgamated with Parbury Lamb, under the name of Parbury Lamb and Raff Ltd. Mr. Baron L. Barnett was a merchant in Market Street, near the A.S.N. Wharf, and was later Italian Consul. Messrs. James Campbell and Sons were in Creek Street, near the Queen’s Hotel. I well remember Mr. James Campbell, head of the firm, when he occupied a small wooden building where the present large warehouse now is.

Messrs. Brabant and Co., Webster and Co., Mort, Holland and Co., Smellie and Co., B. D. Morehead and Co., James Stodart, G. A. Thompson, Unmack and Heussler and H. and N. Howes were all prominent business firms. Mr. Morehead was a member of Parliament for many years, and one time Premier. Much to the cabmen’s surprise, B. D. Morehead had a private

hansom for a time, but soon gave it up. He was a most popular member, always ready with a joke. Once in the House, referring to the weather reports of Mr. Clement Wragge, B. D. Morehead said, in view of the cyclones that had been lately experienced in the North, he should be called “Inclement” Wragge.

Mr. J. C. Heussler was Consul for Germany, and Mr. Unmack was at one time Minister for Railways and Member for Toowong.

Messrs. Quinlan, Gray and Co., amalgamated with the Castlemaine Brewery and erected the brewery at Milton. Quinlan, Gray’s staff had a very fast open sailing boat, called the Elite, which competed in the river sailing races.

Messrs. Hoffnung and Co were, as now, in Charlotte Street. Messrs. Scott, Dawson and Stewart were soft goods’ merchants, now D. and W. Murray and Co. Ltd. Mr. R. M. Stewart was a Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister. He lived at Hawthorne, Bulimba. Messrs. Clark and Hodgson were in Eagle Street near the ferry.

The principal Chinese merchant was Chick Tong, who carried on his business in Queen Street near the present T and G Building.

Chick Tong was a client of our firm and we had a good deal of work collecting moneys he had advanced his fellow countrymen or due for goods supplied. These debtors would try and get away in the China boats then running up the coast to China. Chick Tong would give us a full description of the Defendant and armed with a writ of capias respondat (arrest) and with the bailiff, we would proceed down the Bay in the Francis Cadell or Boko with the passengers.

On board the mail boat, there would be a line-up of the Chinese, and generally the chief bailiff, John Galloway, got his man. On one occasion, I remember we identified the Defendant as he had one toe missing. These Chinese always had a good many sovereigns with them, and paid up when they found the game was up.