LETITIA BROWN (MARRIED KYRAN BROPHY)

1.6                                 LETITIA BROWN AND KYRAN BROPHY


1.6.1     Honora Brophy m. Cornelius O'Brien


1.6.2     John Brophy    Pleasant Valley - Auckland


1.6.3     Mary Brophy - Sister Alexis  Perth Australia


1.6.4     Kyrian Brophy m. Rose Twomey   Pleasant Valley - Tycho - Timaru


1.6.5     Patrick Brophy m. Rose Fitzsimmonds   Pleasant Valley - Mina Cheviot


1.6.6     Martin Ambrose Brophy m.1st Margaret Wareing; m.2nd Trilby Falk    Pleasant Valley


1.6.7     Thomas Brophy


1.6.8     Bridget Brophy - Burnt at age 3


1.6.9     Joseph Brophy m. Theresa Leddy    Pleasant Valley - Ashburton


1.6.10   Letitia Brophy m. Denis Teahen in 1915   Pleasant Valley - Pleasant Point


1.6.11   Annie Brophy m. Albert Neilson    Pleasant Valley - Pleasant Point


1.6.12   Simon Brophy died 1934    Pleasant Valley - Pleasant Point


1.6.13   Michael Brophy m. Elsie Walker   Died April 3, 1940    Pleasant Valley - Pleasant Point


Letitia Brown was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1854.  She died in 1911 and is buried in the Temuka Cemetery.  She and Kyran Brophy married on the 9th of September 1872.   Kyran Brophy was born in 1838 at Bawnaghra, Queen's City, Ireland.  Kyran died at Pleasant Valley on the 3rd of March 1906 at the age of 66 years.


The Timaru Herald reported Letitia’s death on June 15, 1911.

“Yesterday morning, a sudden death occurred in Pleasant Valley, Mrs. Kyran Brophy, who retired on the previous evening, apparently in good health, was found dead in bed.  Naturally, her sudden end came as a great shock to her family and friends.  It appears that death was due to heart disease, but as the diseased had not been under medical treatment, an inquest was necessary and this was held in the afternoon by Mr. Day, coroner.  Dr. Patterson gave evidence that death was due to fatty degeneration of the heart and a verdict was returned in accordance with his testimony.  Mrs. Brophy whose husband pre-deceased her, was highly esteemed and wide-spread sympathy is felt for her family.”


Per Frank Sharp, Kyran Brophy and Letitia Brown are mentioned in Cyclopedia of NZ, Canterbury Volume.  Kyran came to the goldfields at Ballarat in about 1859 and then Otago in 1861.


The Timaru Herald, March 5, 1906.

“Mr. Kyran Brophy of Pleasant Valley, an old colonist in South Canterbury, died on Saturday morning as the result of an accident which happened to him on Wednesday last.  Mr. Trophy was a member of the Geraldine Road Board for some years, and also chairman of the Pleasant Valley School Committee.  He took a keen interest in the St. Patrick’s Sports Association, and was foremost amongst patrons of the Geraldine ploughing matches.  On two occasions Mr. Trophy stood as a candidate for vacancies in the Canterbury Farmers’ Co-operative directorate, and he was associated with most movements for the advancement of the district.  The funeral of the deceased will take place today, leaving the residence at 7 a.m. and the Roman Catholic Church, Geraldine at 2 p.m. for the Geraldine Cemetery.”


The N.Z. Tablet wrote a very extensive Obituary for Kyran Brophy and it is worth reprinting here.

March 15, 1906.

“Sincere and wide-spread regret was felt in Geraldine on March 3, when it became known that Mr. Kyran Brophy, of Pleasant Valley, had died as a result of an accident which happened to him a few days previously.  The deceased was held in the highest esteem in the district, and by none more so than the congregation of St. Mart’s in the Bush among whom he was the leader in every work of religion and charity.  The late Mr. Brophy, who was in his 67th year, was a native of Queen’s County, where he was brought up to farming pursuits.  In 1859 he arrived in Victoria, where he remained for a couple of years, after which he came over to New Zealand, going first to the Otago goldfields, and later on to the West Coast.  In 1866 he bought land at Pleasant Valley where he was a very successful farmer, and at the time of his death owned several other farms in the district.  Mr. Brophy, who was a Justice of the Peace, took an active share in public affairs and was a member of several public bodies.

The funeral, which took place Monday, March 5, was one of the largest seen in the district for a long time.  The remains were taken to the Catholic church, Geraldine, and thence to the local cemetery where the interment took place, the Very Rev. Dean Bowers officiating both at the church and the graveside.  The deceased leaves a family of seven sons and four daughters to mourn their loss.

Speaking in the church the Very Rev. Dean Bowers expressed appreciation of the admirable example of a truly Christian life which the deceased gave to all.  He (Dean Bowers) had spent about sixteen years in the district and during that time it had been his duty to make various proposals to the congregation for the promotion of the Church’s welfare, and he (Dean Bowers) had never made any such proposal, whether it was regarded a matter of greater importance or a matter of smaller importance, without receiving the prompt and generous and whole hearted cooperation of the deceased.

Mr. Brophy was one of those who welcomed the priest, when a priest first visited the district and every priest who had come there since then received a cordial welcome from him.  He (Dean Bowers) said he had never met a man for whom he had more thorough respect, and it was a pleasure to know that Mr. Brophy was highly respected by the whole community.   In every movement that had taken place in the district for the welfare of his fellow men, during his long residence there, he took an active and honorable part.  He had his faults and his failings, no doubt.  Who has not?  But whatever his faults and failings might have been, he never allowed them to interfere with the faithful discharge of his duty, both as a citizen and a member of the congregation.  He might even have had enemies, although he was everyone’s friend, still he might have been misunderstood at times by some.  There are some also whose friendship no honest man would covet.   Amongst such possibly he might have had enemies but of this he (the Dean) was certain, amongst honorable and straight forward and clean-minded men, Kyran Brophy never had an emery.  R.I.P.”

One must judge the merits of that particular obituary for oneself.  I personally think that perhaps Letitia might have been a little perplexed upon reflection of this sermon.  It sounded like he Reverend did not really know the deceased as he spoke of him in such generalities.  


The following piece from the Timaru Herald is more reflective of Kyran’s standing in the community.

March 6, 1906


“A very large number of people from all parts of the country attended the funeral of the late Mr. Kyran Brophy, which took place at Geraldine yesterday.  In the early morning the procession from the deceased late home at Pleasant Valley to the Roman Catholic Church, at Geraldine, was a notable one, but the afternoon procession from the Church at Geraldine was perhaps the largest ever seen in the district.  If the people on foot had walked in twos instead of 12 and 13 abreast, the hearse would have reached the cemetery before the last had left the church.  As it was, the cortege reached from the cemetery to the Literary Institute.  The hearse, as it moved away from the church was followed by a coach conveying the relatives of the deceased and immediately behind this came representatives of local bodies; Messrs A. Kelman, A. Metcalfe, and B.R. MacDonald, Geraldine Borough Council.  Mr. F.R. Flatten, M.H.R.., Messrs R. Skinner and M.R. Thew, Timaru Harbor Board, Messrs J. Kennedy, president, and B. Brooks, secretary and thirteen others (St. Patrick’s Sports Association), Messrs J. Kelland, chairman, T. Dyer, clerk and J. Wharton (Geraldine Road Board of which deceased was a member for many years).  The public on foot numbered three or four hundred and behind came between 60 or 70 conveyances with people from almost every part of the district.  The services in the church and at the grave were conducted by the Very Rev. Dean Bowers.   A number of handsome floral tributes were placed on the grave.”


Not to be outdone on the literary level, the Temuka Leader ran it’s own account of the death of Kyran however in that write-up they do provide a few different details of Kyran’s history.  little history of Kyran.    This is an extract from the Temuka Leader dated March 6, 1906.


“….The history of the late Mr.  Brophy’s life is as follows:  He was born in Queen’s County, Ireland, in 1838 and brought up in farming pursuits on his father’s farm.  In 1859 he left for Melbourne in the ship Constantine and worked in Victoria for two years.  He then came to New Zealand, going first of all to th Otago goldfields where he struck a payable claim on the Arrow river, the party clearing a good sum per man in the 12 months he was there.  After that he visited Wakamarina and the West Coast where he again did fairly well and on coming to Canterbury in 1866 he bought a farm at Pleasant Valley.  The land was then in it’s native state and there were no roads or fences in between Mr. Brophy’s property and Temuka.  Settling at Pleasant Valley, Mr. Brophy became a very successful farmer and at the time of his death was the owner of farms at Te Moana, Pleasant Point, Cracroft and Kakahu….”  I might add that this piece also makes mention of his marriage to Letitia Brown in 1872 and also the number of his children.  


I cite all the above because it is a tribute to a regular Irish guy who came to New Zealand as a gold prospector, made money, bought farms and contributed hugely to his community.  Five or six years before his death, he was made a Justice of the Peace.  The one detail of his death that I have not been able to determine is what kind of an accident did Kyran have.  I cannot find a report of an inquest.


The marriage endured some sadness and the account of the death of little Bridget Brophy must have touched the hearts of all at the time.  And one cannot help but wonder if, in this day and age, little Bridget may have been saved.  This is only one of the many many children injured on farms in the area.  However    the majority of juvenile accidents were connected with farm machinery.


Timaru Herald, December 31, 1888

“An inquest was held in the Bush Hotel, Geraldine, on Saturday last, before O.A. Wray, esq., coroner, touching on the death of Bridget Brophy, the two year old daughter of Mr. Kyran Brophy, of Pleasant Valley.  Mr. W. Coltman was chosen foreman of the jury.  Kiran Trophy deposed that t about 7:30 on Thursday evening the child got out of its bed and went outside in its nightdress.  He had his attention attracted to the child by seeing it running about and screaming.  He did not at the time take particular notice of the child’s screaming as it did not appear as if it was in agony but shortly afterwards he noticed that the nightdress was in flames.  He ran over and caught hold of the child.  The only means he had of extinguishing the flames was by rolling the child in the grass.  He put flour over her and rolled her in a sheet when he took her in the house.  He went for Dr. Fish as the child appeared to be in pain, but the doctor could not come over till the afternoon as he was engaged in Geraldine, but he prescribed for her.  A fire had been lit that morning under a boiler used for washing and he thought that the child’s nightdress had caught fire there, but she afterward told him that she had picked up a box of matches near the boiler and had struck one on the fence.  He found the box of matches at the spot indicated and came to the conclusion hat it was a match she had struck that had set fire to her nightdress.   Deceased was generally careful with maths when she found them.  She died the following morning at 40 minutes past one.  John Trophy, brother of deceased corroborated his father’s evidence.  Dr. Fish deposed to Mr.

Brophy coming to him on Thursday morning, but as he could not leave Geraldine till the afternoon he prescribed for the child and gave the father instructions as to what to do.  When he went to Mr. Brophy’s he found that his instructions had been most careful attended to.  The child was very seriously burnt about the body and limbs and its case was hopeless from the first.  The burning of the nightdress was quite sufficient to cause the injuries.  The jury returned a verdict that the deceased had met her death through accidentally setting fire to her clothes, no blame being attachable to anyone.”


No mention in the inquest of Bridget as being a child of Mrs. Brophy.  Referring to her as “it” would be unusual today as well.  The inquest has her age as 2, my information has Bridget as death at age 3 and the tomb stone has her age 4.  Which one is correct, who knows?  In those days, they were not even too careful about having the tomb stones correct sometimes.  


One final note - I am not really familiar with the Military Service Act though I know that Simon Brophy  and Michael Brophy, sons of Kyran were both drawn into service by the Military Service act.  Both got written up numerous times for missing parade duties and for this they ended up in the Magistrates Court.  As far as I can tell Simon was the only one who left for the front in 1917.  A clearing sale was held on his behalf in May, 1917.   WWI ended November 11, 1918 so his duty overseas would have been quite short.


Kyran and Letitia Brophy circa 1900

The Brophy farm house

The Bran at Brophy Farm Baunaghra



Photos curtesy of Frank Sharp