Mrs Matilda Derham
Ballarat Rd, Braybrook
Matilda was one of Braybrook’s early pioneers, arriving in the district with her husband in the late 1850’s. Matilda was active in the community and run one her husband’s businesses, the Braybrook Hotel.
She was born Matilda Bryant, on the 25th September 1828, in Keynsham, Somerset, England. Her parents were Joseph Bryant & Ann Bryant Nee Dobson. He siblings were Mary (b1816 d18/3/1827), Anna Hannah (b1818), Emma (b Abt 1820 d1873), Joseph (b1821 d1860), Sarah (b1825 d1876) & Ann (b Abt 1828).
She married widower, Thomas Burge Derham on the 18th August 1856 at St. Philip and St. Jacob, Bristol, Gloucester, England.
Not long after their marriage, the couple set sail to Australia. The couple’s first child Elizabeth Johnson was born at sea on the 7th June 1857. Elizabeth died in 1937.
Thomas and Matilda went onto having another ten children, all born in Victoria with many of them being registered at Albion (Old) or at Maidstone, Emily Burge (26/10/1858 d23/7/1944), Eleanor (Elinor) Mary Burge (b27/10/1859 d29/12/1868), Thomas Burge (b9/3/1862 d30/7/1925), John Burge (b10/8/1863 d18/1/1932), Ada Maud Burge (b Abt 1864 d1865), Maude Matilda (b15/6/1866 d16/2/1944), Ella Burge (b13/5/1868 d1932), Olive Matilda Burge (b24/3/1870 d10/7/1953), William James Burge (b15/1/1872 d23/2/1920) & Mabel Bowen (b11/7/1874 d1922).
It is interesting to note their first child to be born in Australia, Emily Burge was born in a tent at 241 Swanston St Melbourne. Another daughter, Ella Burge was born at the Braybrook Hotel but it also likely that other children of hers were born at the hotel.
Her husband, Thomas Burge Derham, had many different businesses and acquired many parcels of land in the Braybrook & the surrounding district.
Thomas owned the Braybrook Hotel, but with all of his other interests, it was Matilda who ran the hotel, monitoring and, where necessary, curtailing the intake of those likely to drink too much. The hotel provided accommodation, so it is mostly likely Matilda was engaged in providing meals to the guests. She also prepared meals for the Road Board and later Council meetings as the hotel was used to host these meetings.
Matilda was an active contributor to the local community, church and school.
Matilda had to give evidence at a number of court appearances including a murder case in 1877 and a suicide case in 1881.
Matilda’s husband, Thomas died on the 6th November 1906.
Matilda's son, John Burge, who lived in Braybrook Junction and Sunshine, followed the path of his father, and became the Shire of Braybrook President for two terms (1909-1910 & 1918-1919). John worked as a dairyman and had an interest in property development. His wife Mary Jane Barnett was one of the founders of the Wesleyan Church at Braybrook. Their bluse stone house was located at Devonshire Rd, Sunshine.
Matilda’s daughter, Olive Matilda Burge, went on to marry Alfred Walter Barrett, one of the district’s early House, Land & Estate Agents.
In 1920, Matilda’s son, William James Burge went down with the ship “Gracchus” on a trip to Madras India with horses, remounts for British Army.
Matilda was the matriarch of a family that help shaped the early days of the Albion (Old), Braybrook and Sunshine Districts.
Matilda died on the 9th November 1915, at her daughter’s house in Tyler St, Sunshine, Age 87. She is buried in the Footscray Cemetery with her husband and their daughter, Olive Matilda Burge Barnett.
Ref: Sunshine Advocate
Ref: Sands & McDougall Directories
Ref: S&DHS Newsletters Series 5, No 3, September 2007 and Series 5, No 10, June 2009
Ref: Victoria Birth, Deaths & Marriages
Ref: Harvester Town, The Making of Sunshine 1890 – 1925, Olwen Ford