Harry Cornelius Bray (1847-1923)

 

On this day, September 19 in 1923, Henry Cornelius Bray my 2nd great-grandfather died at his home in Woids Avenue, Hurstville, NSW, and was buried the following day at Woronora Cemetery. He was 76 years old.

Harry was born on July 2, 1847 at Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. His parents were Cornelius and Mary Ann (Hayles) Bray both natives of Portsea. Cornelius had been a mariner at the time of their marriage but when Harry was born he was recorded as a baker and grocer.

Harry was christened at St. Mary’s church, Portsea with his older sister, also Mary Ann, in October the same year. As far as we know he was christened Harry and not Henry, and he certainly carried that name throughout his life and passed in on to two more generations.

In about 1853, when Harry was just six years old, Cornelius and his family emigrated to New South Wales together with his brother George and his family. The reason for this big move will probably never be known, certainly there does not appear to be any evidence that they were tempted by gold fever. In Sydney he was later known to be a cordial maker.

Harry Cornelius and Mary Bannatyne Bray

Young Harry was a driver of a baker’s cart when in 1870 he married Mary Bannatyne Armitage. Mary was the third daughter of Joseph and Martha (Files) Armitage who were shipped out to New South Wales under the equivalent of witness protection following riots and a death in the Chartist uprising in Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire. Mary was born on the ship Mary Bannatyne, in the English Channel shortly after weighing anchor for their new homeland, and named after that ship.

Harry continued working as a carter or van driver throughout his life and with Mary raised eight children living at various locations in the Redfern and Alexandria areas.

Harry Cornelius Bray and his buggy

By the turn of the century the family had moved to Hurstville on a large property with several blocks back to back with frontages in both Woids Avenue and Bellevue Parade. They remained there the rest of their lives.

After Mary’s father died in 1862, her mother lived with them at Hurstville, as did some of her children.

When Mary died in 1926 she was buried at Woronora next to Harry Cornelius.

Note: My thanks to cousin Neville Bray for much of the research and photos. Neville has a website for Australian Bray Families at www.brayfamilies.id.au

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