Sarah Frances Helen Rennie's parents were Richard Brown and Elizabeth Ann Sorton.

Richard Brown was born c1835 in Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire (Buninyong Death Registration 1628/1873). He was the son of William and Jane Brown.  William was a nursery man.

In about 1857 Richard Brown qualified as a surgeon, and a document from the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of the Royal Infirmary and School of Medicine and Surgery, Manchester, with testimonials confirming this, still exists.

Thought to be Richard Brown Father of Sarah


Very little information about the Brown family has been found so far. It is said Richard Brown had a brother who was a "chemist" in Liverpool, England. 

A post card exists that was sent in 1907 from Richard Rennie (grandson of Richard Brown) to Mr J Brown, 79 Wavertree Rd Edgehill Liverpool England.  Another post card exists which was received in 1906 from Edge Hill signed by Enid, probably a relative.

According to Richard Brown's death registration he had a brother John Brown who was a boot dealer in Richmond Melbourne in 1873.



Richard Brown married Elizabeth Ann Sorton on December 2 1857 in Manchester Cathedral (International Genealogical Index - Morman Church)

The name Sorton was to be used in 1895 as a christian name of Lucy Sarah Sorton Rennie one of his grand daughters (Ballarat Birth Registration 1141/1869).

The above birth registration indicates that Elizabeth Ann Sorton was born in Wettenhall Cheshire c1839.   However the following information makes this date is doubtful. 

According to vital records listed by the Morman Church, Elizabeth Ann Sorton, daughter of Thomas and Ann Sorton, was christened on October 16 1836 in Denton near Manchester. 

The age of Elizabeth Ann Sorton when she was married (as recorded on her husband's death registration in 1873) also indicates she was born in 1836.  Thus the 1839 date is probably based on inaccurate information.

Thought to be Elizabeth Ann Sorton, Mother of Sarah


Passenger lists for the ship White Star from liverpool include Mrs Richard Brown plus infant.  She was described as aged 22, wife, English.  The infant was probably her son, also called Richard

The White Star left Liverpool on November 7 1859 and arrived in Melbourne on January 20 1860 carrying 332 passengers.  There was no mention of her husband Richard Brown. Passengers travelling 'steerage' (a section in some ships occupied by passengers paying the lowest fare) were sometimes not listed.

Dr Brown's residence, Ballarat (July 7 1868)


Richard and Elizabeth Brown had seven children.

  • Richard Brown born c1858
  • William Brown born c1860
  • Margaret Jane Brown born  August 2 1862 
  • Thomas Ashley Henry Brown born November 2 1864
  • Mary Brown born c1866
  • Sarah Frances Helen Brown born 6 January 1869
  • Lucy Brown birth date uncertain (died before Aug 1873)
The birth dates of Richard, William, Mary and Lucy have been estimated from information on the death registration of their father Richard Brown.  It is quite likely that these four children had additional christian names in line with their other siblings whose names are known accurately. 

Lucy Brown died before 1873 as a very young child.  It is thought that only their first child Richard was born prior to coming to Australia.

At the time of writing only limited information is known about the other children of Richard and Elizabeth Brown.  Will Brown is said to have had a "wire shop" in Little Collin St Melbourne, which was still there in c1941. However the photograph on the right has the name R. Brown on the window.  Will Brown is also said to have had a wooden leg.

R. Brown's wire shop


Richard Brown died in Buninyong in 1873, at the age of 38 years.  His death registration indicates he had suffered from a lung problem from three years.  He was buried in the Buninyong Cemetery.  Sarah Francis Helen Brown (his youngest surviving daughter) was only five years old at the time.

After his death it is said his family went back to England for some time before returning to Australia.

Elizabeth Brown later married James Valentine and they lived in 203 Ligar St Ballarat.  They had a daughter Nellie (or Eleanor??) Valentine In 1898, one of Sarah Rennie's Children, Eleanor Valentine Rennie (known as Nellie) was named after her.

Another of Sarah Rennie's children, Valentine Goodchild Rennie, was also named after James and Elizabeth Valentine.

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"Papa" James Valentine

"Grandma Valentine" (Elizabeth Brown nee Sorton)
Mother of Sarah Rennie.