Thomas Grenier
Mary Grenier
Volney Grenier

That the following entry on Thomas and Mary Grenier is easily the longest in the book is not due to family pride on the part of the researcher. Rather, it is intended to give the reader a more comprehensive understanding of what our pioneers in pre- and post-Separation Queensland endured when they left their homes overseas and began a new life on the other side of the world. It is also fitting that we recognise the unique link that Thomas and Mary had to the place we commonly call God’s Acre. What is now their last resting place was once part of the fields they surveyed from their home and that they cultivated with hard and persevering work. A much fuller account of their life and times may be read in this writer’s Thomas and Mary Grenier: Brisbane Pioneers, Brisbane, 2002.

Thomas Grenier, one of our pre-Separation pioneers, was living in Kororareka (present day Russell) on New Zealand’s Bay of Islands when he heard that the first sale of land in the Moreton Bay Settlement would take place by auction in Sydney on 14 July 1842. He crossed the Tasman and, having made a successful bid of £31 for Allotment 14 in Section 1, travelled north on the 200-ton steamer Shamrock to inspect it and to survey the scene. This 36-perch block stood in Grey Street directly opposite what is now the entrance to the South Brisbane Railway Station.

On his return to New Zealand Thomas was able to tell his family that their future was a little more secure in the event that a Maori uprising should make life too difficult for them. For the most part, the Maoris related well with the settlers; but their implacable opposition to the British military presence was a constant source of friction.

This problem came to a head when Hone Heke and his ally, Te Ruki Kawiti, sacked and torched the township on 11 March 1845, leaving only the Anglican church and the residence of the Catholic bishop undamaged. Thomas and Mary and their six young children fled to Auckland on the British whaling vessel Matilda and sought refuge with Mary’s sister and brother-in-law, Eliza and Alexander Smart Martin. The Martins had travelled to New Zealand with the Greniers but had left Kororareka towards the end of 1842.

Intent on giving his family a new beginning, Thomas disposed of the properties he had bought in Auckland’s first land sale in April 1841 and returned to Brisbane before the year was out. In the six months that elapsed before his wife and children could join him, he built a modest dwelling on the Grey Street property. To support himself he opened a butcher shop in Queen Street on the site of what is presently Hungry Jack’s, not far from where Patrick Mayne operated a similar business. Given his childhood background, his choice of occupation and his preference for self-employment were hardly surprising.

Thomas Grenier, the son of Thomas and Martha (née Hamper) Grinyer, was born into a family of shopkeepers in Brighton, Sussex, on 4 July 1808. That he was independent in outlook and adventurous in spirit is evident in the fact that he crossed the Atlantic while still in his teens and backpacked, as we would say today, travelling by riverboats, stagecoaches and on foot for 18 months around the eastern part of the United States of America. He celebrated his 21st birthday there on Independence Day 1829.

On his return to Brighton, Thomas resumed work in the family grocery business; and on 15 November 1832 he married Portsmouth-born Mary Pannell, the eldest child of George and Jemima (née Clark) Pannell, in the Church of St Nicholas. By a strange quirk of fate, Thomas and Mary’s first child, Ann, died on 10 September 1834—the very day on which their second daughter, Mary Ann, was born. Two other children, Eliza and Sarah, were added to the family before Thomas and Mary decided to emigrate to Melbourne, Australia.

Having said farewell to their circle of friends and relatives, they departed from St Katharine’s Dock in London on 1 October 1838 as steerage passengers on board the 658-ton barque Perfect under the command of Captain William Snell. Four months later on the evening of Thursday, 31 January 1839 they entered Sydney Harbour. Thomas used their stopover to good advantage by purchasing at an auction in Sydney’s Market Building an inner-city Melbourne property. He sold it at a very considerable profit soon after the family’s arrival there two months later.

Believing that their prospects would be better in New Zealand, the Greniers, by then seasoned travellers, set sail on the 350-ton Earl Stanhope in late February 1840. The 1,700-mile journey must have been especially trying for Mary who, still only 26 years of age and pregnant with her fifth child, gave birth to Thomas Jr on 31 March just as the ship docked at Port Nicholson (Wellington). A few weeks later the family settled in the North Island in Kororareka (present day Russell) where Thomas worked as a carpenter and erected two houses—one for his family and one for the above-mentioned Martins.

Space prevents a detailed account of the life that Thomas and Mary Grenier lived in the four years leading to the sacking of the town by the Maoris. We need only add that they were blessed with two more sons, Volney and George Alexander, both of whom, together with their sister Eliza and their parents, would one day be laid to rest in God’s Acre at Cooper’s Plains.

A terrifying storm and the constant care of her six young children ensured that Mary Grenier’s return voyage across the Tasman, this time on the small two-masted schooner Harlequin, was even more eventful than her first. However, having made the last leg of the journey safely from Sydney on the Sovereign, the children and their mother were reunited with Thomas on 21 September 1845 and settled into their newly-erected house. A new chapter in the family story was about to begin.

Brisbane was hardly a thriving metropolis at that time. The population statistics, based on the census of 2 May 1846, indicate that there were only 614 non-indigenous inhabitants in North Brisbane (405 males and 209 females) and 346 in South Brisbane (209 males and 137 females). Indeed, when Thomas Grenier’s name first appeared on ‘the electoral list for the Town of Brisbane, District of Moreton Bay, County of Stanley’, he was one of a mere 75 eligible to vote.

Writing in his diary about two months after the Greniers’ arrival, Thomas Dowse, the former convict who became Brisbane’s second Town Clerk and a close family friend, observed: ‘Brisbane is the dullest of all dull settlements at this part of the year. Innkeepers, Storekeepers are about as well off as Hutkeepers’. Whether or not Thomas shared these views, he continued to conduct his butcher’s shop in Queen Street until May 1848 when George Poole took over the premises as a ‘chemist, druggist and family grocer’.

In September of that year he successfully applied for the licence of the Brisbane Hotel which had been built by the astute businessman Evan Mackenzie near the south-western corner of the intersection of Russell and Grey Streets. Thomas was the third licensee of this establishment, having succeeded Robert Rowland and Jacob Goode. The latter is remembered as the man who, in a fit of frustration, pushed the ferryman John William Christie overboard because he delayed a crossing of the Brisbane River in the hope of obtaining more passengers.

The hotel became popularly known as ‘Grenier’s Inn’—a designation which endured long after Thomas had relinquished the licence in 1858 in favour of his daughter-in-law’s widowed mother, Mary Greenwood. An anonymous author wrote of the hotel in these terms in a ballad entitled ‘Way back in Fifty-Nine’:

But we have prophets here who dream
    That ships with steam and sails
Will come right up to Grenier’s Inn,

    In Brisbane, New South Wales

A ‘social centre and a Brisbane landmark in the [18]40s and 50s’, the hotel was a ‘favourite house of call for squatters’ from the Logan, the Downs, the Dawson and the Burnett who, as Thomas’s obituarist observes, ‘were alike in appreciating the comfortable and lively old English style in which … Mrs. Grenier and her three attractive daughters conducted the hostelry’. It was one of the preferred ‘watering holes’ of the well-to-do Nehemiah Bartley who, looking back in 1892, describes it in his book Opals and Agates as a ‘well-kept and highly patronized hotel’. ‘George Harris and I often strolled up to Grenier’s in the evening,’ he writes, ‘for there was more “life” there than at any other hotel in town’.

Capturing something of the egalitarian spirit and bonhomie that prevailed in Grenier’s Inn in those days, Bartley also writes of a practical joke played on Captain Thomas Collins of Telemon Station, a regular patron of the hotel.

Fun there was, in plenty, in those days … All innocent fun; but there was real mischief at work when some unknown fiend packed all the spoons, knives, and forks, from Mrs. Grenier’s public breakfast table, into old Captain Collins’s valise, already half full of clean shirts, just before that unconscious gentleman started home to the Logan. Mrs. Grenier thought the blacks had stolen them, and had their camp searched in vain. The mystery was solved when, a fortnight later, the captain came to town again, and threw the articles on to the verandah, with some of that figurative language, peculiar to elderly sea captains. The real culprit was never discovered, or nobody knows what might have happened. But, old Collins stayed there, the same as of yore, for it was all taken in good part in those days, and there was a feeling of old friendship between landlord and guest, then, which is all out of date now.

Managing a hotel in mid-19th century Brisbane was no easy task in an area where the unsealed streets were often in appalling condition owing to poor drainage and the daily traffic of horses and cattle. Good stabling and suitable feed had to be on hand for the patrons’ highly prized horses. Clean linen, laundered in wood-fired coppers, had to be provided for beds and tables. Hearty dinners had to be prepared on wood stoves for weary travellers and served in poorly lit dining rooms. Adding to the publican’s many preoccupations (as Thomas sometimes found to his cost) were laws which, among many other regulations, required that patrons should be admitted to the hotel only through the doorway fronting the public street, that forbade music and dancing and the playing of card games on the premises and that prohibited the serving of alcohol to aborigines even when as stockmen they were occasionally clients of the hotel.

But these heavy demands did not stop Thomas from taking an active part in the social, civic and recreational life of early Brisbane. His name appears on several petitions or memorials in support of initiatives as diverse as Separation from New South Wales, the establishment of the Moreton Bay Hospital where the Supreme Court building stands today, the development of water resources on a government reserve at South Brisbane, the provision of a post office on the southern side of the River, the retention of a military presence in the colony to assist in maintaining law and order, and the conduct of ‘a survey of the River Brisbane with a view to its being deepened’.

A perusal of the subscription lists published in the Moreton Bay Courier will reveal that he was a frequent and fairly generous contributor to worthy causes at home and abroad. Ensuring that such support would extend even beyond his demise, he included among the beneficiaries of his will three organisations that had been recipients of his practical assistance during his lifetime—the South Brisbane School of Arts (of which he had been the treasurer and the vice-president), the Acclimatisation Society at Bowen Park and, interestingly for a publican, the temperance body known as the Good Templars Society.

In the decade leading to Separation there were several additions to the family—Henry and Franklin1, both of whom died as infants, Henry John, Franklin2 and William Leichhardt. Two other sons, both of whom had been born in New Zealand, died during this period—Thomas Jr who was buried in the Church of England section of the old Paddington Cemetery and Volney of whom more below.

The establishment of the Brisbane Municipal Council on 13 October 1859 enabled some of the young colony’s influential businessmen to take a more active part in the development of the town. Thomas Grenier stood unsuccessfully for election in February 1865. Undaunted by this loss, he tried again two years later and became one of the two representatives of the South Ward. His first term of office was served under Albert John Hockings and his second under John Hardgrave. Council minutes reveal that he served on various committees and that, mindful of the recurring complaints of his constituents, he took a special interest in improving the drainage and roads in South Brisbane. During those years the versatile Thomas Dowse, a former convict, was the Town Clerk, having succeeded William Martin Boyce whose grandson WFR (Frank) Boyce, married Thomas Grenier’s grand-daughter Minnie Kate Jessie Benn.

After the Greniers had settled permanently in Australia, Thomas continued to buy land. There was probably a speculative element in some at least of these purchases; but it is more likely that, looking to the future, his prime concern was to provide for the needs of his children. Between March 1853 and June 1868 he often attended auctions of government land and bought property in what are presently the suburbs of South Brisbane, West End, Woolloongabba, Highgate Hill, Balmoral, East Brisbane, Sandgate, Shorncliffe, Yeerongpilly and Archerfield, and further afield in Toowoomba (Drayton) and Ipswich. He also leased extensive tracts of land for pastoral purposes.

The most significant of these purchases was made on 31 May 1855 at an auction in the Brisbane Court House. The fact that Thomas paid £3 per acre for the 640-acre Portion 18 (Yeerongpilly), for which the upset price was only £1 per acre, indicates that the bidding must have been very keen. Even though he was still a South Brisbane publican at this time, Thomas and his sons with the assistance of employed labour set about developing this area (presently occupying much of Archerfield Airport) as a grazing property and dairy farm. In the months leading up to Separation he expanded these activities to include the breeding of quality horses and mares.

In 1861, feeling the need for an additional source of income, Thomas decided to entrust the management of the family farm to his eldest son George Alexander and to open a grocery, wine and spirit store in South Brisbane next door to the Brisbane Hotel. Apparently, his financial situation continued to leave something to be desired as he made a serious effort to dispose of his large Cooper’s Plains property. However, despite a series of advertisements in the Brisbane Courier in 1862, he failed to secure a suitable buyer and the farm remained in his possession until his death in 1877. By then it had been subdivided by the licensed surveyor William Cowley into six blocks, five of which Thomas willed to his sons George Alexander, William Leichhardt and Franklin Grenier.

He left subdivision 6, a small area of 3 roods, ‘in trust for the purpose of a Burying Ground for members of [his] own family or any other persons they may think proper’. He also gave and bequeathed to the trustees of his last will and testament ‘the sum of fifty pounds in trust for the purpose of making or keeping in repair the Gates and Fences to the said Burying Ground’. The first burial at this site had taken place on 27 October 1859 when Thomas and Mary’s 16-year-old son Volney was laid to rest. Between that day and 16 July 1980 when Olive Grenier, the youngest of their 41 grandchildren, was buried there, the mortal remains of about 180 people were committed to the earth in what has become popularly known as God’s Acre. Each year since 1991 on the last Sunday of June descendants of those buried there have assembled mid-morning in the cemetery grounds to remember the dead, to share family stories and to enjoy a picnic together. In conjunction with the observance of the 150th anniversary of Queensland’s statehood in 2009, celebrations are currently being planned to mark the sesquicentenary of the first burial.

Historians are not much given to assessing the character and temperament of the people they write about, preferring to let the recorded facts of their lives speak for themselves. That will not deter the present writer from referring to a few events in Thomas Grenier’s life which are revelatory of the man. That he was protective of his children is evident in the impulsive action he took in May 1850 when his daughter Eliza was severely bitten by an unrestrained dog belonging to a rival publican John McCabe. Having derived no satisfaction from his altercation with the dog’s owner, Thomas shot and killed the animal. Both parties to the dispute presented their versions of the facts in well-written paid-for advertisements in the Moreton Bay Courier.

The same concern extended to his employees at the hotel, among whom were represented English, Irish, German, Chinese and aboriginal workers. On one occasion, wishing to see justice done, he caused a police constable to be arraigned before the police magistrate and subsequently dismissed from the force for assaulting Billy Harris, an aborigine in his employ. Hospital records indicate that he also met the hospital expenses of needy people, some of whom probably worked for him.

Thomas Grenier’s name has been assigned to four streets, a lane and a park in Brisbane and to a street in Toowoomba. There are also four streets in close proximity in West End where he owned several properties which have clear associations with his family. His principal memorial, however, is the tribute his children had inscribed on their parents’ gravestone which holds pride of place in God’s Acre:

In Loving Memory Thomas Grenier Who departed this life October 7th, 1877, aged 69 years.
Also his beloved wife Mary, March 2nd, 1876, aged 62 years.
This table is erected by their children.
The deceased were amongst the earliest settlers of the colony and were highly esteemed
by many of the old residents of Brisbane,
as well as by the distinguished pioneers who took an active part in the development of Queensland.
In their domestic relations as parents, they commanded the affections of their children,
and as citizens the respect of all who came in contact with them.
After journeying together through life for forty years, they now rest in peace side by side.

Mary Grenier’ burial, witnessed by two family friends, Henry Lucock JP and William Huet, took place on 3 March 1876, the day after her death. Thomas himself acted as the undertaker.

On 7 October 1877 Thomas Grenier died and was laid to rest beside his wife. His son Henry John acted as undertaker and the Reverend James Samuel Hassall of the Church of England performed the graveside service in the presence on Henry Lucock JP and William Huet (witnesses), both of Oxley. The latter gentleman was also one of the two witnesses of Thomas’s last will and testament.

Volney Grenier was born in Kororareka (now Russell) on the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on 7 July 1843 and was christened in the local Christ Church on 3 August 1843 by the Reverend Robert Burrows. It was there that the same pioneering Church of England clergyman had earlier baptised Volney’s brothers, Thomas Jr and George Alexander, and his cousin Sarah Eliza Martin.

The origin of his unusual given name, which appears nowhere else in the family tree prior to 1843, has yet to be established. Thomas Grenier may have come across it when travelling in the eastern part of the United States in 1828-29. In Oswego County in New York State, at the south-eastern end of Lake Ontario, there is a town called Volney, after which (as records indicate) a number of local people have been named.

Volney died on his parents’ farm at Cooper’s Plains on 26 October 1859. A long-standing Grenier tradition, commonly accepted by historians but unsupported by any documentation known to the writer, is that he succumbed after sustaining serious injuries in a fall from a horse on the family property. Volney’s death certificate (No. 390—registered by the Reverend Robert Creyke) states that he died from chronic peritonitis, endured for a period of 15 days. It further indicates that his birthplace was the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, and that he had lived for ‘fourteen years in the Colony of New South Wales’. His father’s occupation is given as ‘farmer’.

Volney was buried in God’s Acre, Cooper’s Plains, on the day after his death—the first of the family to be interred there. Joseph Wonderley, who married Volney’s sister Sarah Grenier in May 1860, was one of the two official witnesses to the burial. The signature of the other is not easy to decipher; but it seems likely that he was Alexander Fraser, a blacksmith and farrier whose business was a stone’s throw from Grenier’s Hotel in South Brisbane.

Franklin Grenier

Franklin Grenier
(generally known as Frank) was born to Thomas and Mary Grenier on 27 November 1851 when his father was the licensee of the Brisbane Hotel in Russell Street, South Brisbane. He was christened by the Reverend Henry Offley Irwin in the original St John’s (the family’s preferred church at that time) on 29 August 1852. Thomas’s occupation is given in the baptismal record as ‘Inn-keeper’.

On Christmas Eve 1875 Frank Grenier married London-born Ellen Henrietta Cayzer, the daughter of John William and Ellen (née McGlynn or McGlinn) Cayzer, at St John’s Church. The officiating clergyman on this occasion was the Reverend John Sutton. They had no children.

Frank, who had suffered from epilepsy for some years, died on 5 January 1889 at his residence, ‘Franklin Vale’, Cooper’s Plains, at the age of 37 years. Present in an official capacity when he was buried near his parents in the family cemetery on the following day were: the Reverend James Samuel Hassall, William Francis Lyons (undertaker), Edgar E Bletchley and H Pratten (witnesses).

Eighteen months later, on 20 June 1890, Ellen married Frank’s nephew, Thomas Leichhardt Grenier (the eldest son of George Alexander and Sarah Mary Agnes Grenier) in St Mary’s Church, Kangaroo Point. The Reverend Herbert Heath presided at the wedding. This too was a childless marriage.

Thomas and Ellen moved to Sydney where they resided at 576 Crown Street, Surry Hills. Ellen died there on 4 October 1914; and her remains were interred in the Church of England section of Rookwood Cemetery. Thomas Leichhardt Grenier passed away at Bargo in New South Wales on 5 January 1927. His death was registered in Picton (3001).

George Alexander Grenier
Sarah Mary Agnes Grenier

George Alexander Grenier
, the son of Thomas and Mary Grenier, was born on 23 November 1841 at Kororareka, New Zealand, and was baptised there on Christmas Day 1841 in Christ Church according to the rites of the Church of England by the Reverend Robert Burrows.

His working life was spent as a farmer on the 640-acre family property, ‘The Willows’, (now in the suburb of Archerfield) which his father had purchased in 1855. After Thomas Grenier’s death George inherited sections 2 and 3 of the estate, comprising just over 277 acres.

George Alexander Grenier’s marriage to Sarah Mary Agnes Greenwood took place on 26 August 1863 in the historic Church of St Stephen, in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church. The Irish-born celebrant was the Reverend Michael Patrick Renehan. The witnesses were family friends, John and Annie (née Graham) Cockerill, born in Surry Hills, Sydney, on 16 August 1845, Sarah was barely eighteen on her wedding day. In her husband’s newspaper obituary she is described as ‘one of the two beautiful daughters of another very old colonist’. The same writer observes that ‘Young Grenier and his wife were a decidedly handsome couple’.

It could be that Thomas Grenier’s business interests played a part in the courtship of George and Sarah. Her father, James Greenwood, was a publican and for a time was the licensee of Victoria Hotel in Queen Street, the Prince of Wales Hotel on the corner of Charlotte and Edward Streets, and the Queen’s Arms Hotel at Kangaroo Point.

Like his three married sisters, George, a hardworking farmer, became the parent of a large family—six sons and two daughters. In order of birth they were: Thomas Leichhardt (b. 10 June 1864; d. 5 January 1927), an unnamed male child (b. 26 February 1866; d. 4 March 1866), George Alexander Jr (b. 23 March 1867; d. 7 August 1924), James Franklin (b. 31 January 1869; d. 6 April 1935), Mary May (b. 3 June 1871; d. 22 July 1946), Sarah Lilly (b. 22 November 1873; d. 19 September 1928), Ernest Pannell (b. 4 April 1876; d. 26 November 1943), William Pannell (b. 29 July 1878; d. 9 December 1958), and Reginald Courtenay (b. 27 February 1882; d. 3 November 1948). That there might have been an addition to this list is indicated in a sad notice which appeared in the Queenslander in June 1886: ‘GRENIER.–At The Willows, Oxley, Mrs. G. A. Grenier, of a son, still-born’.

William Pannel Grenier

Of the above children the following were buried in God’s Acre: James Franklin, Mary May (Cameron), Sarah Lilly (Wallace), Ernest Pannell, William Pannell, and Reginald Courtenay (ashes only). For additional information about them, see the entries under their names.

George died at his residence at Cooper’s Plains on 4 March 1915 and was buried in the family plot in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery on the following day. Present in an official capacity were: Abraham Hislop (undertaker), the Reverend Edward Rooke (Church of England minister), and George’s son-in-law Donald Stuart Cameron and D Robinson (witnesses).

The following obituary appeared in the Brisbane Courier:

A very old resident of Queensland, Mr. George Alexander Grenier, of Roslyn, Cooper’s Plains, died at his residence on Thursday last at the age of 74 years. The deceased was only three weeks old [three years old, in fact] when his parents came to Brisbane. His father (Mr. Thomas Grenier) was born at Brighton, in Sussex. He and his wife passed through some thrilling experiences in New Zealand before they came to Moreton Bay in 1845. Shortly after his arrival in Brisbane Mr. Thomas Grenier became the host of probably the best-conducted hotel, and also kept a store. Prior to Separation he retired to The Willows Estate, Cooper’s Plains, which he purchased from the New South Wales Government, and to the same locality 52 years ago, his son, George Grenier, brought his bride, formerly Miss Greenwood, and daughter of another Moreton Bay pioneer. The family have ever since resided in the locality. Mr. Thomas Grenier, who died in 1877, dedicated a block of land on his property for the purposes of a cemetery, and there the remains of him and his wife, and most of  the deceased members of the family, were laid to rest. The late Mr. George Grenier, whose funeral took place yesterday, is survived by his widow and several sons and daughters, including Messrs. E. P. Grenier (Crown Lands Commissioner, Clermont), R. C. Grenier (Clerk of Petty Sessions, Charleville), James and William Grenier (Cooper’s Plains), Mrs. Cameron (Sandgate), and Mrs. R. Wallace (Rosewood). The late Mrs. Wonderly [sic], of Toowoomba, was a sister of the deceased. During their occupancy of The Wil­lows the late Mr. George Grenier and his wife were noted for their hospital­ity. Mr. Grenier took an interest in horse racing, and Brisbane history, recently reprinted in the “Courier” under the heading “Fifty Years Ago,” told of some of his successes on the turf.

A similar obituary with some additional details appeared in the (Brisbane) Truth:

The name of Grenier has frequently occurred in the instalments of old Bris­bane history now appearing in “Truth,” and general interest in the family will be further revived by the announcement of the death of Mr. George Alex­ander Grenier, son of the late Mr. Thomas Grenier, at his residence “Roslyn,” Cooper’s Plains, on Thursday last. Mr. Thomas Grenier, the founder of the family in the Moreton Bay district, was a native of Brighton, Sussex. He and his wife were Britishers of really good stamp. They came to Australia, and arrived in Sydney in 1839, several years after their marriage. After­wards they went to New Zealand, but after the destruction of their property in a Maori uprising, they returned to Sydney, and in 1845 came to Moreton Bay and established a highly reputable hotel in Brisbane, and also kept a store, and later had an interest in several boats engaged in the bay trade. [The researcher has found no evidence for this interest]. The late Mr. George Alexander Grenier, who was about 74 years of age at his death, married in 1863 or thereabouts Miss Greenwood, one of the two beauti­ful daughters of another very old colonist. Young Grenier and his wife were a decidedly handsome couple. Another notably handsome member of the family was Miss Eliza Grenier, who first became Mrs. Watson, and afterwards Mrs. Benn, and died at the age of 37 years. This lady has received special ment­ion in Mr. Nehemiah Bartley’s “Book of Recollections.” Mr. Bartley, who afterwards married a sister of Sir Edmund Barton, unsuccessfully wooed Miss Grenier, but his memories of her were so lasting that he gave them literary endurance. Another daughter of Mr. Thomas Grenier was the late Mrs. Wonder­ly [sic], of Toowoomba. There were several other sons besides Mr. George Grenier, who, like his parents and himself, were buried in the private cemetery established by Mr. Thomas Grenier at Cooper’s Plains. Mr. Thomas Grenier and his family retired to the Willows Estate, Cooper’s Plains, Oxley Creek, prior to Separation, and entered into farming and grazing pursuits. The Grenier dairy, which had a very large output, for a number of years supp­lied the Brisbane Hospital. Mr. George Grenier and his wife were extremely hospitable, and entertained many large house parties at “The Willows,” which property eventually passed out of the hands of the family, who, however, have continued to live at Cooper’s Plains. Mr. Tho­mas Grenier was honoured by the attachment of his name to a street in Brisbane. On one tombstone in the Grenier cemetery is a simple slab, with the following inscription: “In affectionate remembrance of Thomas Grenier…” [the inscription is given in full elsewhere in our text].

Apparently the vigor of the family has increased rather than decreased under the effects of the Queensland climate. The late Mr. George Grenier was 74 years of age at his death, and his widow at 70 years of age looks as though she had [sic] many years still to go. Several sons of the family hold im­portant official positions; others have remained on the land, not far from their old home. The wife of Dr. R. Wallace, of Rosewood, and Mrs. Cameron, of Sandgate, are daughters of the deceased.

Sarah Mary Agnes Grenier survived her husband by nine years and continued to live in the family home until a few months before her death at the age of 78 on 27 May 1924. She died at ‘Gloucester’ in Russell Street, South Brisbane—the residence of her elder daughter Mary May Cameron and her commercial traveller son-in-law Donald Stuart Cameron. Full of years and good works, Sarah was laid to rest beside her husband. The funeral moved from the Church of Mary Immaculate, Ipswich Road, Annerley on the afternoon following her death.

The following obituary of Sarah Mary Agnes appeared in the Brisbane Courier:

An old resident of Brisbane, Mrs. Sarah Mary Grenier, passed away at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. D. S. Cameron, Russell-street, South Bris­bane, on Tuesday, at the age of 78 years. The late Mrs. Grenier was born at Surry Hills, Sydney, and at the age of 14 she came to Brisbane where her father, Mr. James Greenwood, took over an hotel in Queen-street. Four years afterwards she married the late Mr. George Alexander Grenier, one of the early residents of this State. Until her husband’s death she lived with him at The Willows, Oxley Creek, near Rocklea, where he was a farmer. She met with the usual experience of a pioneer in the early days, and was widely known for her kindly hospitality. During the war she took a pro­minent part in functions arranged for the benefit of the Red Cross and similar institutions. She was a member of the Roman Catholic Church. A short time before her death she removed to Brisbane. She leaves a family of two daughters and six sons – Mrs. Mary Cameron (South Brisbane), Mrs. Robert Wallace (Rosewood), Messrs. T. L. Grenier (Sydney), G. A. Grenier (Yungaburra, North Queensland), J. F. Grenier (Oxley), E. P. Grenier (Maryborough), W. P. Grenier (Dalby), and R. C. Grenier (Ipswich). The burial took place on Wednesday in the family’s private cemetery at Coop­er’s Plains. Mrs. Grenier’s husband’s father, the late Mr. Thomas Gren­ier, was one of the earliest settlers in New Zealand. He arrived in the country before the proclamation of British sovereignty, in 1840, and sett­led at Kororareka, Bay of Islands. After his home was destroyed by the Maori chief, Honge [sic] Heke, in one of his raids on the little settlement, he came to live in Brisbane, where he was the proprietor of the Brisbane Hotel, otherwise known as Grenier’s Inn, which stood in Russell-street, on a spot which is now the site of a portion of the Melbourne-street station. Grenier’s Inn was a social centre and a Brisbane landmark in the 40’s and 50’s of last century, and as the author of “Way Back in Fifty-Nine” writes:–­

But we have people here who dream
     That ships with steam and sails
Will come right up to Grenier’s Inn
     In Brisbane, New South Wales.

This is an allusion to the time when the river might have been waded at Hamilton Reach, and when all cargo inwards and outwards was lightered to or from the Bay – the far-away days when there was no Queensland, and when Moreton Bay was a part of New South Wales.

The following obituary of Sarah Mary Grenier, wife of George Alexander Grenier, appeared in the Maryborough Chronicle:

Death has removed, in the person of the late Mrs. Sarah Mary Agnes Grenier, in her 79th year, one of the earliest residents of Brisbane.

The de­ceased lady was the mother of Mr. E. P. Grenier, the local Land Commissioner, and of Mr. R. C. Grenier, the late Clerk of Petty Sessions in Maryborough, but now of Ipswich. She was born at Surry Hills, Sydney, on 16th August, 1845, and received her early educat­ion at a school at Darlinghurst, Sydney. At the age of 14 years she removed with her parents to Brisbane, and completed her education at “a school for young ladies” as it was called in those days. At the age of 18 years, she married George Alex. Grenier, eldest son of the late Mr. Thomas and Mary Grenier, who were engaged in business in Auckland, N.Z. [this is incorrect], before Sovereignty was proclaimed. During an insurrection by Maoris in the year 1841[1845] the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Grenier was burned, and they left New Zealand for Brisbane, then a town in embryo, in the Colony of New South Wales. At least two streets in Brisbane, one in West End, and one in Fortitude Valley, and another in Toowoomba were named Grenier street after them.

The late Mrs. S. M. A. Grenier, with her husband lived on his farm known as “The Willows” Oxley. His death took place in March, 1915, his age being 74 years. He was always held in the highest esteem, and for many years was chairman of the Committee of the Oxley State School, where the members of a family of eight children received their primary education. He also acted as chairman for Sir Samuel Griffith during his election campaigns when he contested for Parliament, the electoral seat of Oxley. His wife also gained high esteem by all who knew her, and she will be remembered amongst a large circle of friends for her generosity, and many acts of charity. She took a prominent part during the war in all patriotic functions in the locality where she lived, and interested herself in matters relating to the advancement of local State Schools and the Rocklea Agricultural and Industrial Association. Her second eldest son, George, fought in the Boer War, and the second youngest son [William Pannell] also saw active service in the late war in which he was severely wounded.

Since her husband’s death the late Mrs. Grenier had resided at Cooper’s Plains until overtaken by a serious illness about four months ago, when she removed to the residence of her daughter, Mrs. D. S. Cameron, in Russell Street, South Brisbane, where she peacefully passed away on Tuesday last. Her funeral left the Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Ipswich Road, on the following day, and her body was interred on [sic] the family’s priv­ate cemetery at Cooper’s Plains. The Reverend Dr. Lynch, Parish Priest, conduc­ted the service at the Church and at the burial. Four of her sons, James, Ernest, William, and Reginald were the pall-bearers. The funeral was attended, in addition to numerous relatives, by many friends of long years’ standing. There were many floral tributes from relatives and friends bearing testimony of the esteem in which she was held.

It may be mentioned that the private cemetery mentioned was dedicated by the late Thomas Grenier, senr., in which his remains and those of his wife lie at rest, and on a simple marble slab erected to perpetuate their memory the following inscription appears:– [there follows the inscription to be found elsewhere in our text].

The late Mrs. S. M. A. Grenier was survived by eight children and seven grandchildren. The names of the children are as follows:– Thomas Leichhardt, (Sydney); George Alexander (Yungaburra, N.Q.); James Franklin (Oxley); Mary May (wife of Mr. D. S. Cameron, S. Brisbane); Sarah Lilley (wife of Dr. Wallace, Rosewood); Ernest Pannell (Maryborough); William Pannell (Dalby); Reginald Courtenay (Ipswich).

James Franklin Grenier

James Franklin Grenier
, the son of George Alexander and Sarah Mary Agnes (née Greenwood) Grenier, was born on 31 January 1869. He married Louisa O’Neill in Brisbane on 12 January 1901. The wedding took place in the chapel at ‘Dara’, the residence of Archbishop Robert Dunne, according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church. The celebrant was Father John O’Reilly and the witnesses were William Leichhardt (known as Leich) Grenier, the groom’s uncle, and P Pratten.


Originally from Victoria, Louisa was the daughter of James (a herdsman) and Frances (née Ahern) O’Neill who, after their wedding in Beechworth on 24 April 1869, lived in Stanley, a small country town in Victoria about six miles from Beechworth in the county of Bogong. There they raised a large family: Bernard (b. 1870), Louisa (b. 1872), Alice Isabella (b. 1874; d. 25 May 1951), Mary (b. 1876; bur. 12 February 1877, aged 8 months), Catherine (b. 1878, known as Kate), Frances, James (b. 1883), John (b. 18 October 1885; d. 14 January 1960), Agnes Ellen (b. 1888), Annie, and Joseph Henry.

For some years James Franklin and his wife resided in George Street, Annerley, before moving to Wellington Road, East Brisbane, where Louisa conducted a small business. Sadly, a month after their eleventh wedding anniversary, Louisa died suddenly on 14 February 1912 at the age of 40 while seated at the breakfast table. At the time of her death she and her daughters were staying with her sister Alice Isabella in Chiltern Valley, a small gold-mining town, in the county of Bogong (in the shire of Rutherglen) about 20 miles from Wodonga, not far from her childhood home. More details of this family tragedy will be included later.

James Franklin Grenier died 6 April 1935 at the residence of his daughter Edna Taylor, Margaret Street, Yeerongpilly, and after a service two days later in the Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley, was buried in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery. Father Bernard O’Shea of the Catholic Church conducted the funeral rites in the presence of J Dibble and J Dunstan (witnesses).

The following obituary (the reference for which has so far eluded the present writer) will give the reader some idea of James’s background, his working life and his interests:

MR. JAMES FRANKLIN GRENIER died at Yeerongpilly on April 6. He was a grandson of the late Mr. Thomas Grenier, one of the earliest settlers in the Oxley district, and a son of the late Mr. G. A. Grenier. Born in Oxley 66 years ago, he joined the staff of the Union Bank. After serving in Brisbane and Rockhampton he became the chief teller in the Brisbane office, but resigned after 14 years’ service to take up a position with Smellie and Co., Brisbane. Later he entered the employ of Foggitt, Jones, Pty., Ltd., at Oxley, retiring four years ago. As a young man he was a keen cyclist and a player for the old Oxley Football Club, and he rode several mounts in the old Oxley race meetings. He leaves one daughter, Mrs. B. R. L. Taylor, of Margaret-street, Yeerongpilly. One daughter, Mrs. Leslie Browning, of Oxley, died six years ago. There are three grandchildren. Messrs. E. P. Grenier, Land Commissioner at Toowoomba; R. C. Grenier, police magistrate at Cairns; and Mr. W. P. Grenier, Crown Lands Ranger at Cunnamulla, are brothers. Mrs. D. S. Cameron, of Moorooka, is a sister. The late Mrs. Wallace, wife of Dr. R. Wallace, of Rosewood, was another sister.

James Franklin and Louisa’s line continues through their two daughters. Edna Pannell Grenier (b. 11 August 1908; d. 14 July 1985) who married Basil Rupert Lyndhurst Taylor (b. 27 July 1906; d. 3 May 1971), the son of John James and Lillian May (née Tregurtha) Taylor, on 25 February 1932. They raised three daughters—Barbara Mary (b. 16 September 1935), Marie Valerie (b. 21 August 1937) and Joy Louise (b. 22 October 1944).

Valerie Louise Grenier (b. 20 October 1902) married William Leslie Browning (b. 16 December 1901, known as Les), the son of William Leslie and Margaret (née Sammon) Browning, on 17 March 1925. Their three children were: Patricia Margaret (b. Palmwoods, 21 July 1925; d. 22 July 1939), Lionel James (b. Palmwoods, 2 September 1926, known as Boy; m. Catherine Ruby Hale 17 March 1951), and Mary Valerie (b. 18 January (or 28?) 1928, known as Billie or, as she preferred, Val; m. Robert Joseph Ryan 22 April 1946; d. 1 February 1976). Valerie Louise died from complications in childbirth on 19 January 1928 and was laid to rest in the Toowong Cemetery on the following day in a grave (7A 226A 2) that would later receive the remains of her eldest daughter and her husband.

Les Browning remarried on 12 April 1939, this time to Ellen Kathleen Sheehan (b. 8 November 1904), the daughter of James Herbert and Sophia (née Hasted) Sheehan. He passed away full of years and was buried on 27 November 1989. Ellen Kathleen died in the Villa Maria Hostel, St Paul’s Terrace, Brisbane, and was laid to rest in the family plot in the Toowong Cemetery (7A 226A 1) on 13 December 1994 aged 90 years.


Louisa Grenier separated from her husband and returned with her children to the scenes of her childhood. The following obituary, which appeared in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser, records her passing:

DEATH OF A STANLEY NATIVE.¾The many friends of Mrs. James O’Neill, of Stanley, will regret to hear that one of her daughters, Mrs. Grenier, of Queensland, died somewhat suddenly yesterday (Wednesday) at Chiltern Valley, where she had been visiting her sister, Mrs. Rosengreen [Alice Isabella]. For some time the deceased had resided in Brisbane, but having suffered somewhat in health she came over to Stanley on a visit to her mother, hoping to recruit [i.e. to gather strength]. About a fortnight ago she proceeded to Chiltern Valley, but yesterday (Wednesday) a telephone message from that township conveyed the painful intelligence that she had died from heart trouble. Deceased was of a bright, cheerful disposition, and commanded a large circle of acquaintances, by whom she was very much esteemed. Among her sisters are Mrs Rosengreen (2) of Chiltern Valley, Nurse O’Neill, of the Beechworth Hospital, Miss Alice O’Neill, of Stanley, and her brothers are Cr. B. O’Neill, and Messrs. John and Joseph O’Neill, all of Stanley, and Jas. O’Neill of New Zealand. Mrs. Grenier leaves two children of tender years to lament the loss of a devoted mother. The heartfelt sympathy of the whole community is extended to the O’Neill family in their sad bereavement.

Louisa’s death certificate records that she was treated on the previous day by Dr CF Harkin, that she had been ill for six months, that her death from ‘syncope and rheumatic endocarditis’ was notified by her brother-in-law, Herman Rosengren [sic], and that she had lived for 26 years in Victoria and for 14 years in Queensland. Her remains were taken to the Stanley Cemetery and were interred on 16 February 1912. With the assistance of the undertaker, Walter J Edwards, the committal service was conducted according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church by Father Timothy Healy.

After their mother’s death, the two daughters, Edna and Valerie, returned to Brisbane with their father.


Ernest Pannell Grenier
Gertrude Daisy Grenier

Ernest Pannell Grenier
, the son of George Alexander and Sarah Mary Agnes (née Greenwood) Grenier, was born on 4 April 1876. He married Gertrude Daisy Hook at the Presbyterian Manse, in the Brisbane suburb of Sherwood on 20 June 1900. The presiding minister was the Reverend John Stewart Pollock; and the witnesses were the groom’s brother George Alexander Grenier Jr and his sister Sarah Lilly Grenier.

According to the marriage certificate, Gertrude Daisy Hook was born at Oakvale near Bingara in New South Wales and was aged 22 years at the time of her wedding. Her parents were James Henry (a drover) and Annie (née Cornie) Hook.

Ernest died in the Myles Private Hospital, Arthur Street, Toowoomba on 26 November 1943. Father James D Kelly of the Roman Catholic Church conducted the funeral service at which J McGuinness and AH Simons were official witnesses.

The following notice appeared in the Toowoomba Chronicle:

GRENIER.¾The funeral of the late ERNEST PANNELL GRENIER, of 99 Lindsay Street, Toowoomba, will move from the Mary Immaculate Church, Ipswich Road, Brisbane, THIS DAY (Saturday) at 2.30 p.m. for interment in the Grenier family plot, Cooper’s Plains Cemetery. Private interment; no flowers. T. S. BURSTOW, Funeral Director.

An obituary which appeared in the in the same newspaper will give some idea of Ernest Pannell Grenier’s career as a public servant:


The death occurred at a private hospital in Toowoomba on November 26 of Mr. E. P. Grenier, formerly a Land Commissioner at Toowoomba and district for eight years. Mr. Grenier, who came of an old Queensland family, was born at Oxley at his father’s property, “The Willows.” He was educated at the Christian Brothers’ College, Gregory Terrace. Joining the Lands Department he subsequently became Lands Commissioner at Clermont, Dalby, Maryborough and Toowoomba and district. Deceased leaves a wife and a son-in-law and daughter, Major and Mrs. J. A. Cran, and one grandson, Peter Cran; also a sister, Mrs. D. S. Cameron, of Brisbane, and two brothers. One brother, Mr. W. P. Grenier, is attached to the Land Office in Gayndah, and another brother, Mr. R. C. Grenier, is stipendiary magistrate at Bundaberg.

After her husband’s death Gertrude Daisy Grenier moved to the Brisbane suburb of Wilston where she lived with her daughter Jeanne Alexandra Cran. She passed away on 13 May 1950 and was buried in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery two days later. The Reverend Theo C Kernke of the Church of England conducted the service at which the two witnesses were J Overend and E White.

Sadly, Ernest Pannell and Gertrude Daisy’s other daughter, Gertrude Mary, died on 16 May 1910, five days after her birth, and was buried in the Atherton Cemetery, North Queensland.

Reginald Courtenay Grenier

Reginald Courtenay Grenier
, the youngest of the large family of George Alexander and Sarah Mary Agnes (née Greenwood) Grenier, was born on 27 February 1882. His arrival was announced in the Queenslander, the weekly edition of the Brisbane Courier. The given name ‘Courtenay’ may have been inspired by the fact that Captain Thomas and Margaret (née Orr) Boyland, close friends of the Grenier’s at Oxley Creek, had a son called Courtney who married Margaret Byers on 14 April 1891. At least nine members of the Boyland family are buried in God’s Acre, including Thomas and Margaret.

Reginald Courtenay Grenier completed his schooling at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, Brisbane between 1895 and 1898. Newspaper reports of the school’s annual prize distribution evenings in the Centennial Hall indicate that he was awarded a prize in sixth class for general efficiency and mathematics in 1896 and for English and geography in the junior university (2nd division) class in 1897. He passed the junior university (class A) examination in 1898 and, like the other successful candidates from his school, he received a silver medal to mark his achievement. 

Reginald married Mary Mildred Fisher on 6 April 1918. Mary was the daughter of Alfred John and Matilda (née Johnston) Fisher who were themselves married on 27 February 1875.

The children of the Fisher family were as follows: Emily Grace (b. 21 January 1876), Alice Evelyn (b. 11 August 1877), George Alfred Handcock (b. 31 March 1879), Edith Jane (b. 23 September 1880), Thomas Frederick (b. 1 September 1882), Charles Percy (b. 23 January 1884), Mary Matilda (b. 19 October 1885), Lily Ann (b. 18 July 1888; d. 7 September 1888), Ellen Frances (b. 7 May 1890).

Reginald Courtenay Grenier’s career is summarised in a number of obituaries which appeared in Queensland newspapers. In the pages of the Maryborough Chronicle and Gympie Times respectively we read:

MR. R. C. GRENIER.¾The death occurred recently of Mr. Reginald C. Grenier, of Yundah-street, Shorncliffe, a seaside resort of Brisbane. Mr. Grenier was a retired Stipendiary Magistrate. He joined the public service in 1900 and served in various petty session offices throughout Queensland as a clerk and C. P. S. He was first appointed a Magistrate at Charleville in July, 1925, and was transferred to Bundaberg in 1941, and then to Gympie where he retired in February, 1947. While in Bundaberg Mr. Grenier, in addition to his Magisterial duties, fulfilled the position of chairman of the local Cane Prices Board and chairman of the Bundaberg Hospitals’ Board. His passing will be regretted by a large circle of friends. Mr. Grenier was stationed at Maryborough many years ago as C. P. S.

Mr. Reginald Courtenay Grenier, retired stipendiary magistrate who for some years held that position at the Gympie Court House, died in a Brisbane private hospital on Wednesday. Mr. Grenier, who was 66 years of age, retired from the public service some 20 months ago, his position in Gympie being the last which he held. After retirement he took up residence at Shorncliffe. Mr. Grenier’s health had been poor for several months before his demise. Deceased is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary Grenier, and two daughters, Mrs. J. L. Merrotsy of Murwillumbah and Miss Maria [Estelle Marie] Grenier of Shorncliffe.

While he was Clerk of Petty Sessions in Maryborough, Reginald was called upon to give evidence on Monday, 20 January 1919, at the Royal Commission on the Classification of Officers in the Public Service. In a document which points to an efficient man very much in touch with his duties, he lists his subsidiary positions as follows: Registrar of the District Court, Electoral Registrar for Maryborough and Wide Bay, Registrar of the Small Debts Court, Registrar of Pensions, Registrar of Firms, Assistant Immigration Agent, Receiver of Taxes, Agent for the Insurance Commission, Agent for the Public Curator, Deputy Sheriff, and Justice Appointed to hold Inquiries under the Insurance Act. His salary was then in the £250-270 range.

Reginald Courtenay Grenier died in the Turrawan Private Hospital, Clayfield, on 3 November 1948. On the afternoon of Friday, 5 November 1948, after prayers at the Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley, his remains were laid to rest in the family plot in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery at Archerfield. Father T Fitzgerald presided at the burial service in the presence of G Hughson and WH White (witnesses).

Reginald’s widow Mary moved to Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales where, having been cared for by their younger daughter, she died in 1973. She was buried in the Tweed Heads Cemetery.

This family line continues through two daughters. Estelle Marie (b. 28 January 1920) married Kevin Julian Leahy at St Agatha’s Church, Clayfield on 18 August 1949 with Monsignor John English presiding; and Alison Margaret (b. 27 August 1921) married John Leslie Merrotsy at the Cathedral of St Stephen on 15 August 1943.

Estelle Marie Grenier (QFX49750) enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service (AIF) on 3 March 1943, soon after its formation, and served until she was discharged on 14 June 1946.

William Leichhardt Grenier
Mary Jane Grenier
Olive Vera Grenier

William Leichhardt Grenier
, the youngest son of Thomas and Mary (née Pannell) Grenier, was born on 13 December 1854 and was christened in St John’s Church by the Reverend Robert Gregory Creyke on 6 July 1855. His second given name recalls the memory of the celebrated German explor­er, Ludwig Leichhardt, whose fateful second expedition into the heart of the colony had resulted in his death about a decade earlier.

Leich (as he was commonly known) married 19-year-old Mary Jane Catchpole, the daughter of George and Maria (née Balaam) Catchpole, in St Matthew’s Church, Oxley, according to the rites of the Church of England on 29 May 1878. The officiating minister was the Reverend James Samuel Hassall and the witnesses were Charles Catchpole, the bride’s brother, and Sarah Louisa Catchpole, her elder sister.Leich and Mary Jane raised four daughters and one son: (Ethel Jane b. 22 June 1879; d. 29 June 1965), Sidney Leichhardt (b. 9 August 1881; d. 10 February 1955), Ivy Mary (b. 14 August 1885; d. 16 August 1960), Myrtle Sarah (b. 20 June 1888; d. 25 May 1969) and Olive Vera (b. 6 April 1899; d. 16 July 1980).

Details of their marriages are as follows. Ethel Jane married John Daniel Jackson Vine on 27 November 1909. Sidney Leichhardt married Irish-born Isabella Armstrong, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (née Fee) Armstrong on 29 July 1904. Ivy Mary Grenier married Richard Baron Howard on 14 August 1912. Myrtle Sarah Grenier married Thomas Mellers at St Mary’s Church, Kangaroo Point, on 20 August 1913. Olive Vera Grenier, an accomplished musician and music teacher, never married.

William Leichhardt Grenier, a dairy farmer for many years, died on 16 September 1930 aged 73 and was laid to rest in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery, God’s Acre, on the following day. Those who exercised official roles in the interment were: RA Gow (undertaker), the Reverend B Arthur Arnold of the Church of England, A Thompson and H Horsham (witnesses).

The following obituary of William Leichhardt Grenier appeared in the Queenslander and the Brisbane Courier:

The death of Mr. William Leichhardt Grenier at his residence, Hansen-­street, Moorooka, on September 16, removes another native of Brisbane, and incidentally the last member of the family of the late Thomas Grenier, who, in the early days, was one of Brisbane’s leading citizens, being an alder­man on the Brisbane Municipal Council, 1867-8. With his wife and one child [three children] Mr. Thos. Grenier arrived in Sydney in the year 1839 from Sussex. From Sydney they went to New Zealand. The Maori uprising in 1841, and the burning of their home by the Maori chief, Hongi [Hone] Heke, caused them to migrate again to Sydney, leaving there for Brisbane in 1845. For many years he conducted Grenier’s Inn, the only hotel of note in South Brisbane. He later acquired the pro­perty known as the Willows, on Oxley Creek, where he developed an ideal home, and engaged in cotton and maize growing and dairying. The late Mr. W. L. Grenier was born at his father’s hotel in South Brisbane in the year 1854, and was named after the intrepid explorer, Leichhardt, whose last fateful expedition started in the vicinity of his parents’ home. He was buried in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery, which his father established 71 years ago for the use of his family and residents of the district. The Reverend B. A. Arnold, parish priest, conducted the service at his home, and at the graveside. The pall-bearers were his only son (Mr. S. L. Gren­ier), his eldest grandson (Mr. Tom Grenier), and sons-in-law (Messrs. J. D. Vine and T. Mellers). He is surviv­ed by his widow and five children (Mr. S. L. Grenier, Miss 0. Grenier, and Mrs. J. D. Vine, Moorooka, Mrs. R. B. Howard, Toowoomba, and Mrs. T. Mellers, Toowong), and fifteen grandchildren. He was popular and highly respected by all who knew him, and was noted for his genial nature.

Mary Jane Grenier, who was a first-day pupil at the Oxley State School, passed away on 6 August 1946 at her Hansen Street, Moorooka, residence. She was laid to rest beside her husband two days later in a service at which the following were present in an official capacity: George Hartnett (undertaker), the Reverend B Arthur Arnold of the Church of England, G Hughson and JK Armstrong (witnesses).

Olive Vera Grenier, the youngest of the children of William Leichhardt and Mary (née Catchpole) Grenier and the youngest of the 41 grandchildren of Thomas and Mary Grenier, passed away in the Princess Alexandra Hospital on 16 July 1980. Her funeral left from St Mary’s Church of England, Moorooka on 21 July for what her death notice describes as ‘the Grenier private Family Cemetery, Archerfield (Founded by the late Thomas Grenier)’. The Reverend John Parton conducted the graveside service.

Olive, a talented music teacher, lived with her parents in the family home in Hansen Street, Moorooka. She never married.


Sidney Leichhardt Grenier
Isabella Grenier

Sidney Leichhardt Grenier, the second eldest of the children of William Leichhardt and Mary Jane (née Catchpole) Grenier, was born on 9 August 1881. He grew up at Sutton Street, Kangaroo Point, and for a time attended St James’s School in Boundary Street, Spring Hill. His teacher there, whom he fondly remembered, was Irish-born Brother William Joseph Hogan (1863-1942).

Sid was employed for many years in the Brisbane Tramway Company. His strong left-wing political stance was reinforced by his involvement in the Great Tramways Strike of 1912. The General Manager at that time was an American, Joseph Stillman Badger (1881-1934), who was opposed to trade unionism and who decreed that union badges were not to be worn by men on duty.

As noted above, Sid married Irish-born Isabella Armstrong, the daughter of Thomas (a farmer) and Elizabeth (née Fee) Armstrong, on 29 July 1904. Described on his death certificate (a little generously) as a ‘retired mechanical engineer’, he died on 10 February 1955 in the Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital, South Brisbane, aged 73 years. He was laid to rest in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery on the following afternoon after a service in St Mary’s Anglican Church, Hamilton Road, Moorooka. Assisting the burial in an official capacity were: George Hartnett (undertaker), the Reverend DC Gooderham (Church of England), P Fursey and WH White (witnesses).

Sid and Bella raised three sons and two daughters: Sidney William Leichhardt (b. 2 October 1904, known as Tom; m. Catherina Kearney 6 June 1931; d. 19 January 1974), Marie Isabel (b. 8 July 1906; m. George Curley 7 July 1928; d. 5 September 1989), Madge (b. 21 April 1908; m. Francis William Mussig 28 July 1928; d. 2 May 1992), Jack Franklin (b. 30 May 1916; d. 1 August 1992) and Raemond Volney (b. 20 January 1923; d. 16 May 1992).

Isabella Grenier was born in Drumbulkin, County Fermanagh, Ireland on 12 November 1878 (IGI).. She travelled to Australia with her sister Sarah who married Robert Dempster on 5 March 1907 and died on 28 April 1956.

Isabella passed away at her residence in Hansen Street, Moorooka on 9 October 1949. Her burial in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery took place two days later in the presence of W Horsham (undertaker), the Reverend GH Darke of the Church of England, and J Overend and EW White (witnesses)



Raemond Volney Grenier

Raemond Volney (Doc) Grenier, the youngest of the five children of Sidney Leichhardt and Isabella (née Armstrong) Grenier, was born on 20 January 1923. He was a foundation member of the God’s Acre Restoration Committee.

Ray lived in the family home in Moorooka all his life and took an active interest in sporting bodies in that area. As his funeral notices indicate, he was a foundation and life member and trustee of the Moorooka Districts Australian Football Club and an active member of the Moorooka Bowls Club Like his two brothers, Jack and Tom, he joined the Australian Army during World War II.

Ray died on 16 May 1992, mourned by his wife Peggy (née Parsons) and their son Mark Raymond, and was cremated at Mount Thompson Crematorium on 20 May.