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Burial ID 1732
Reference: B1279
Family Name: SEABROOK
Other Names: Henry William/William Henry
Also known as:
Abode: Arthur Street Hobart
Burial Date: 11 Jul 1883
Age: 76
CT: C6
Remarks builder
Index Death Date: 09 Jul 1883
Death Notice: 10 Jul 1883
Origins and Sources    Abbreviations

This addtional information has been provided by: Malcolm Ward

This text (c) Malcolm Ward 2018 but may be freely used by the Friends of the Orphan School for use on their web site and for private research and analysis by Friends of the Orphan Schools and others.


Henry William Seabrook burial index no. 1732.

Source: Built by Seabrook: Hobart buildings constructed by the Seabrook family from the 1830s, by Malcolm Ward (2006).


The Seabrook family in this story came from Suffolk, where they farmed in Barnardiston in the 18th century. From there they dispersed to adjacent parishes such as Kedington. In the early 1810s Henry Seabrook (b 1779), a butcher, and his wife Harriet (nee Smith) moved to Guildford, possibly to service the military bases in the area. Henry and Harriet's second child was Henry William Seabrook, born 12 April 1806 at Guildford. He married Sarah White in 1828 at church of St George the Martyr, Southwark, London.

Henry was apprenticed to prominent builder William Cubitt in London, together with Thomas White, Sarah's brother. Some of Cubitts buildings were near Guildford, so Henry may have commenced his apprenticeship there.  Henry and Sarah's first two children were baptised at St Luke's, Old Street in Finsbury, London in 1830 and 1831.

In 1832 the Seabrook and White families emigrated to Van Diemen's Land on the Thomas Laurie. The family of banker Charles Swanston were fellow passengers. One of the Seabrook children had died prior to their emigration - possibly the victim of the cholera epidemic that swept London in early 1832. Perhaps this was the motivation for their leaving.

The Thomas Laurie arrived in Hobart Town in November 1832. Seabrook and White formed a partnership and built or were one of the contractors for some prominent New Town houses, such as Bishop Nixon’s, now known as Runnymede and Charles Swanston’s New Town Park.

The 1837 census shows that the Seabrooks were then living in New Town, with two assigned convicts. After a brief sojourn in the country, Seabrook again bought land in New Town in 1840 between present-day New Town Road and Pirie Street. However, he was caught in the recession of the early 1840s and lost the block. Apparently on the recommendation of Charles Swanston, Henry Seabrook obtained employment as the Foreman of Works on James Blackburn’s Government House, commenced in 1842 for Lieutenant-Governor Franklin. When this project was terminated due to the expense, Seabrook found work at the Oyster Cove Probation Station, south of Hobart.

By the late 1840s Seabrook had returned to Hobart and had a workshop and cottage on the corner of Morrison and Brooke Streets at Franklin Wharf and a timber yard nearby. From there he ran a successful timber business, close to the New Wharf and ‘Old Market’. From 1847 to early 1852 at least, he supplied timber for roadworks, wharves and buildings, such as Hobart Gaol, Customs House, the Oyster Cove Aboriginal Establishment, (old) Government House and for works on the Domain.

In the 1850s, Seabrook was prospering. He bought property in North Hobart and New Town and built a house for the family on Elizabeth Street (now a bakery) and a smaller cottage around the corner in Little Arthur Street. By the early 1850s, his oldest sons were old enough to assist their father and his business again appears to have become more construction oriented, as opposed to timber supply. From 1855 to 1859, HW Seabrook was regularly winning tenders for fitting out, repairs, and maintenance work on government buildings, including the Post Office (1855, £260), the office of the Colonial Treasurer (1856, £23), the Electric Telegraph office (1857, £100), Hobart Court House (1857), and the House of Assembly (1858). Henry William Seabrook was elected an alderman of the City of Hobart in 1856. He was re-elected in 1857, but in January 1858 he lost his seat, regaining it the following year and he remained an alderman until December 1863.

The crowning achievement of Henry William Seabrook was the building of the Henry Hunter designed Royal Society Museum, which was built by them in 1861-62. This is now the part of the Tasmanian museum and Art Gallery on the corner of Macquarie and Davey Streets. After 1864, Seabrook seior possibly ‘retired’; he built a house for himself on King Street (now called Pitt Street), North Hobart in 1866, but after that, no other buildings can be ascribed to him.

Henry William Seabrook and Sarah moved into his cottage in Little Arthur Street in 1878 and died there on 9 July 1883. He was buried at St John’s New Town. Sarah died in 1888 is is also buried at St John's

Henry and Sarah had twelve children. Four of their sons, Henry junior, George, Charles and Daniel became builders like their father and the trade continued in the family for several generations after that.

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