Skip to main content

Queensland Places - Thursday Island - E.L. Brown, General Importer and Merchant

By JOL Admin | 17 August 2017

The firm of E.L. Brown was an important part of the early Thursday Island business community, having been established in 1874.  Edmund Brown, also known as Captain Brown, had a long involvement in the maritime industry and a major part of his business was aimed at the local maritime and shipping sectors.  Goods such as rope, nails, galvinised rowlocks, hooks and thimbles, metal rods as well as tacks and wood and iron blocks were supplied.

In addition to his ship chandlery operation, the firm was also an agent for Lloyds as well as a number of other insurance companies, including South British Fire and Marine and Australian General Insurance.  Apart from insurance, Brown also represented other southern and overseas companies, including Parbury, Lamb & Co., Brisbane, Pellatt & Co., London, M.B. Foster & Co., London and Brache & Co., Melbourne.  The retail side of his business included general groceries such as tea, sugar, flour and meat products, ale and wine.  As well, Edmund Brown bought and sold pearls and tortoise shell and was active in the beche-de-mer industry.  He also assisted in the export of these products to places such as Hong Kong and London.

Brown was also prominent in Thursday Island community affairs, serving on the island board for many years as well as being appointed to a range of other official positions.  He was also actively involved in the Torres Strait Pilot Service.  The firm was located in Victoria Parade and would have been a familiar part of the local streetscape.

Edmund Brown also stepped forward following the Quetta tragedy, adopting one of the survivors, an orphaned little girl, naming her Cissy Quetta Brown.


Thursday Island ca 1899. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg 111306

Thursday Island ca 1899. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg 111306


This image shows part of the main business area of Thursday Island in around 1895, some twenty years after Edmund Brown had originally established his business.

Brian Randall - Senior Librarian, State Library of Queensland.



Your email address will not be published.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments.

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.
We also welcome direct feedback via Contact Us.
You may also want to ask our librarians.