The name Briscoe is generally associated with one who came from a place named Briscoe (Briscoe, or Birksceug, is a township 3 miles south of Carlisle in Cumberland). There are assumed to be two sources of the name. One is from the Old Norse "birkiskogr," meaning "birchwood, wood of the birches." This surname originates in Cumberland and Yorkshire in North England. The other origin is from the Old Norse Bretaskógr ‘wood of the Britons’.

According to E.J.M. BRISCOE of Screggan Manor the first English Briscoe (or Brisgau) is said to have come over from Normandy with William the Conqueror in 1066 AD.  For services rendered he was granted lands in Cumberland County.

Briscoes have long been associated with Crofton Hall in Cumberland from the 1300s when Isold Briscoe married Margaret Crofton. See A Briscoe Family Tree for more details. John Brisco of the Briscos of Crofton Hall "passed over" to Ireland about 1580.

Our earliest known ancestor is Henry Harrison Briscoe (snr) from Ireland. At this time there is no identified connection between our family and the Briscoes from Crofton Hall.


Henry Harrison Briscoe (snr) was born in Leinster Province, Ireland, in about 1805 and married Eliza Thomasina Walshe in 1830. He was a Magistrate and an Inspector of Poor Laws in Ireland and he is mentioned on numerous occasions in the 1849-1850 Ennistymon Union Minute Books.

In 1837, property valuation records show him residing in Clonmore Parish, County Kilkenny, being the proprietor of the estate of Cloncunny.

The children of Henry Harrison Briscoe (snr) and Eliza Thomasina Walshe were:

  • Thomas Anthony Briscoe (b 1831)
  • Edward William Briscoe (b 1833)
  • Caroline Elizabeth Henrietta Briscoe (b 1834)
  • Alfred Philip Briscoe (b 1835)
  • Henry Harrison Briscoe (1837 - 1912)

In 1857 Henry Harrison was appointed as General Superintendent of the Poor in Northern Scotland. He died on 14 November 1864 in Inverness and the following is his obituary from the Inverness Advertiser:


Most of our readers in the north will learn with deepest regret that Mr Briscoe, General Superintendent of the Poor for the north of Scotland, is no more. About six months ago he was seized by an attack of paralysis, which completely prostrated him, and although comparative recovery was affected by medical science, he never was himself again, speech, memory and motion being all latterly affected, until the end came on suddenly on Monday afternoon last. Mr Briscoe was the very model of a Government official - indefatigable in his work, firm as flint in matters of duty and principle, and kind and courteous to all, the poor pauper equally with the lord of broad acres. Mr Briscoe was, we believe, upwards of sixty years of age, and his wiry frame and weather-bronzed countenance, when last we saw him, gave promise of a very long life; but his incessant and anxious labours, we have no doubt, broke down his naturally vigorous constitution before its time, and brought on the attack under which he ultimately succumbed.'


Henry was christened on 27 August 1837 in Clonmore Kilkenny near the family estate at Cloncunny.

Henry was recorded in the 1851 census when as a 13 year old he was attending the Preparatory Military School at Eltham in Kent. His fellow students included boys from throughout England, several from Ireland and British India plus one from Australia.  These latter classmates might, at least in part, explain his future travels.

In November 1855 it was announced in the Irish press that an Ensign commission was purchased for him in the 81st Regiment of Foot (Loyal Lincoln Volunteers). The 81st had been stationed in Kilkenny at various times but was in India when Henry joined them. Shortly after, in July 1856, Henry was promoted to Lieutenant with the purchase of that commission.

When the Indian Mutiny broke out in May 1857 the 81st Regiment was instrumental in disarming the rebels in and around Lahore (in present day Pakistan), in maintaining order and preventing the spread of the mutiny in the Punjab.

In 1858 he also served on the north western frontier in what is known as the Euzoffzaie expedition to punish the inhabitants for harbouring mutineers. For his service Henry received the Indian Mutiny Medal.

In about 1859 he married Annie Alice Roberts in Bombay who had been born in Hydrabad the daughter of Edward Howard Roberts and Mary (nee Rodney). Henry retired from the 81st Regiment in March 1861 when he sold his Lieutenant’s commission. Family stories suggest that for the next few years he worked in a bank or with the East India Company but no evidence of this has been discovered.

In early 1865 Annie developed a lung disease and the young Briscoes migrated to Australia arriving in Melbourne in about April of that year. They lived at 2 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, where Annie’s condition deteriorated and she died on 1 January 1866. The following day she was buried in Melbourne cemetery. She was only 27 years old. Annie’s death certificate also indicates that she had a child, Henry Harrison, who had died but no other record of this child has been found.

It appears that Henry “went bush” soon after Annie’s death as his next appearance is in the 1869-70 electoral rolls for Balranald in NSW.  He was recorded as residing in the Darling Back Country at Langawirra some 130 kilometres northwest of Broken Hill. Later from the 1878-79 electoral roll we see he had a leasehold property at nearby Kayrunera in the Darling Back Blocks.

It appears that Henry knew the explorer Ernest Giles who led three expeditions into Australia’s unknown western interior between 1872 and 1876. Previously Giles had spent some time from about 1865 west of the Darling River in search of land suitable for pastoral use where he met Henry.

In Giles' book about his travels in Central Australia, and in relation to a location about 130 km south of Alice Springs, he noted the following:

"Friday, 15th November [1972] I rested the horses at this place to-day and did not move the camp. I walked to the top of the tent-hill, and from there saw, that the creek went through another pass a little to the N.E. of our camp. In the afternoon I rode over to this pass, and found some ponds of water a little to the west of it; a bullock, whose tracks I had seen on the creek, had got bogged here, and was now left high and dry. I called these ponds and pass "Briscoe's-Pass" and " Briscoe's-Ponds," and the little tent hill I have named "Briscoe's-Tent," after Mr. H. H. Briscoe, of the Darling-River, who was living with my two friends, Messrs. Middleton and Rogers, when I last saw him." [Ernest Giles, Geographic Travels in Central Australia from 1872 to 1874,p.68]

When Henry finally remarried it was as a 45 year old widower to the 24 year old Elizabeth Warren, daughter of Richard Robins Warren and Ann Livingston(e), on 1 February 1883 at the Registry Office in Hoddle Street, Collingwood, Victoria. Elizabeth was the eldest of the 13 Warren children and was born on 5 January 1859 at Huntly, Victoria. Henry and Elizabeth's marriage certificate shows that his usual residence was Wilcannia, NSW where he was an overseer while Elizabeth lived at Lake Leaghur in northern Victoria where she worked as a domestic servant. Elizabeth was apparently pregnant when they married as their first child, Elizabeth Caroline Marion Thomasina, known as Carrie, was born less than seven months later on 31 August 1883.  They were both living at Smith Street, Fitzroy when they married. Little Carrie was born at Hawthorne, Victoria, the first of their eight children. Two years later a second daughter, Emily Alice Isabella Livingstone who the family called ‘Sister’, was born before the family moved to country New South Wales. Henry took up a position in the Cobar area as caretaker at the 64 Mile Tank, South Road. This position was most likely gained through another former resident of the Darling Back Blocks, James Boultbee.  Boultbee had resided at Gnalta, not far from Langawirra, in the 1877-78 period, and in 1886 he had joined the Department of Mines and Agriculture as Superintendent of Public Watering Places. Henry later named one of his sons Boultbee.

Their next child, Alfred Edward Henry Harrison was born at the 64 Mile Tank on 1 November 1886 followed by George Albert Ernest Sidney on 7 May 1888.

The next family home was at The Rock, 32 km southwest of Wagga Wagga in southern New South Wales, where Henry was the caretaker of the new Government tank.  The Rock township was established along Burke’s Creek and the town plan gazetted in 1882.  The railway station called Hanging Rock was also completed in that year and the tank near the railway line supplied water to the town. As it was dug in 1892, Henry was most likely its first caretaker.
Their fifth child, Arthur William Boultbee Torrance was born at The Rock on 10 September 1892 but unfortunately he died on 2 October the following year.  Arthur was buried in a lone grave beside the Old Wagga (Collingullie) Road on the north bank of Burkes Creek with the marble plaque inscription including the sentiment : lost to sight to memory dear.

A heritage study of the Wagga Wagga area referred to Arthur’s grave stating that:
This child’s grave is a poignant reminder of the hardship of life in the country during the 19th century.
The death of baby Arthur in October 1893 may have been the catalyst for Henry and Elizabeth's decision to have their other four children baptised together at nearby Wagga Wagga in St John’s Church of England on 14 November 1893.
Henry and Eliza’s next child, John Robins Warren Low Briscoe was born at The Rock on 11 January 1895.  However when Livingstone Eugene James Alexander was born on 17 July 1896, it was at Pine Street, Sydney, but the reason for the family being in Sydney at that time is not known.
The youngest child of Henry and Elizabeth, Doris Daisy Mary Devereux, was born on 7 July 1898 after the family had moved to Tooloora Bore near Walgett. Henry was again the caretaker of a Government bore.
It is not known exactly when the family moved to Sydney but the Sands Directory indicates a H.H. Briscoe in North Sydney in 1907, a Henry H. Briscoe at Newtown in 1908 and a H.H. Briscoe in Moorefields Road Canterbury in 1909. It is not clear if these refer to our Henry.
By 1909 Henry Harrison Briscoe was registered as a pensioner in the electoral roll at a 13 acres property where they made their home in Tower Street, Beaconsfield (East Hills). Henry and his family lived at East Hills and he received an Imperial Army pension, until his death from cancer of the liver on 13 April 1912, aged 75 years.  His death certificate showed that had been 50 years in NSW and about 1 year in Victoria. He was buried on 15 April 1912 at St. Saviour’s Church, Canterbury Road, Punchbowl.


Elizabeth was the eldest of the 13 Warren children and was born on 5 January 1859 at Huntly, Victoria.  When Henry Harrison Briscoe married Elizabeth Warren his usual residence was Wilcannia, NSW where he was an overseer while Elizabeth lived at Lake Leaghur in northern Victoria where she worked as a domestic servant. At the time they were both living at Smith Street, Fitzroy.
It is not known how and where the couple met but a connection going back to the family's arrival in Australia is a possibility. Elizabeth's mother, Annie Livingstone, arrived as a child in Melbourne from England with her family, on the Marco Polo in September 1852. In may be coincidence but the family of another resident of Langawirra Station, Clara Campbell (nee Harrod) also arrived on the Marco Polo that year.

Our Warrens supposedly arrived in Australia when Richard Warren who was a ship’s officer who supposedly jumped ship in Melbourne in the gold rush days. Richard's father Thomas Warren of Bristol was, according to family fable, the ship’s master of the cable laying ship across the Atlantic.

Richard and Anne Warren were married on March 15th, 1858, at Sandhurst near Bendigo, Victoria. Their children were:
  • Elizabeth WARREN (1859 - 1917)
  • John Richard WARREN (1860 - ?)
  • Benjamin WARREN (1863 - before 1864)
  • Isabella Clark WARREN (1864 - ?)
  • Henry Alfred WARREN (1866 - ?)
  • Mary Anne WARREN (1869 - 1945)
  • Catherine Christina WARREN (1871 - 1897)
  • James Duncan WARREN (1873 - ?)
  • Alice Maud WARREN (1875 - ?)
  • Charlotte Louisa WARREN (1878 - 1960)
  • Richard Robins WARREN (1880 - ?)
  • Thomas Benjamin Barnett WARREN (1882 - ?)
  • William Archibald WARREN (1884 - ?)

The Australian BRISCOE Family

The children of Henry Harrison Briscoe and Elizabeth Warren were:

  • Elizabeth Caroline Thomasina Marion BRISCOE (1883 - 1974)
  • Emily Alice Isabella Livingstone BRISCOE (1885 - 1963)
  • Alfred Edward Henry Harrison BRISCOE (1886 - 1915)
  • George Albert Ernest Sidney BRISCOE (1888 - 1948)
  • Arthur William Boultbee Torrance BRISCOE (1892 - 1893)
  • John Robins Warren Low(e) BRISCOE (1895 - 1979)
  • Livingstone Eugene James Alexander BRISCOE (1896 - 1986)
  • Doris Daisy Mary Devereux BRISCOE (1898 - 1973)

Following his death Henry and Elizabeth’s large family remained close and for the next generation settled in the Bankstown area.