BROWN, Henry Yorke Lyell (1844-1928)

BROWN, Henry Yorke Lyell (1844-1928)
son of R. Brown, F.G.S., London, was born at Sydney, Nova Scotia, on 23 August 1844. Educated at King's College, Nova Scotia, and the Royal School of Mines, London, he came to Australia in 1865 to work on the geological survey of Victoria under A. R. C. Selwyn (q.v.) In 1869 he went to New Zealand as a goldfields surveyor, but in 1870 received a two years' engagement as government geologist of Western Australia. During this period Brown prepared a geological map of the colony, did exploratory work which included the discovery of the Weld Range, and drilled the first artesian bore hole near Perth. For many years after, artesian bores were an important part of the Perth water-supply. After private practice in Victoria and New Zealand he was on the geological survey of Canada for two years, and then returned to Australia. In 1881 he was appointed assistant-geological surveyor of New South Wales, but in December 1882 became government geologist of South Australia, and held the position for 29 years.
Brown did an immense amount of exploring of remote country, often with only an Afghan or aboriginal assistant. He knew the country between the Queensland border and Western Australia probably better than any other man of his time, and his geological map of South Australia, which appeared in 1899 was a notable achievement. His reports on mineral claims, were always cautious and sober, he would do nothing that would encourage wild-cat schemes. He was equally esteemed by his ministerial heads and the prospectors whom he was always willing to advise. Among his most notable achievements was the fixing of the limits of the artesian basin in the centre of Australia, and the discovering of sites for bores. He married in 1911 Hannah M., daughter of John Thompson, and retired in the same year. He died at Adelaide on 22 January 1928 leaving a widow and a daughter.
The Advertiser, Adelaide, 24 January 1928; The Register, Adelaide, 24 January 1928; Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia, vol. 52; E. W. Skeats, Some Founders of Australian Geology.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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