BRAZIER, JOHN WILLIAM (1842-1930), conchologist, was born on 23 September 1842
in Sydney, son of John Brazier, master mariner and farmer, and his wife Mary, née
McMillan. His father, who collected shells as a hobby, was captain of a whaler
which visited many islands of the southern Pacific in the 1850s. Brazier junior,
who apparently never used his middle name, accompanied his father on one of those
cruises about 1855 and acquired an interest in natural history, especially shell
collecting. He collected around Sydney with George and Richard, sons of Captain
Thomas Rossiter who as master of the French whaler Mississippi in 1841 had saved
Edward John Eyre from starvation on his epic overland trip from Adelaide to King
George Sound. Brazier's reputation as a collector grew and in 1865 he was invited
to accompany Julius Brenchley on the cruise of H.M.S. Curacoa to Norfolk Island,
Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, the New Hebrides, the Solomons and New Caledonia. Brazier
collected wherever possible, even while under attack by natives at Eromanga, New
Hebrides. In 1866 he again visited New Caledonia where Richard Rossiter was
living. In 1871 he accompanied an expedition of Australian scientists to the
Claremont Islands in the Great Barrier Reef to view an eclipse of the sun on 12
December, the so-called 'Eclipse' expedition. In 1872 he accompanied H.M.S.
Blanche on a cruise to the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Marshall Islands.
In 1873 he again visited Noumea, New Caledonia, and in 1874 undertook a dredging
cruise in the ketch Pea Hen along the coast of New South Wales, collecting on
behalf of Sir William Macleay for whom he had worked before. In 1875 he was a
member of Macleay's expedition in the Chevert to New Guinea via the Great Barrier
Reef, and extensive collections were made from many localities; most of the
specimens are now in the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney. Brazier's
later collecting activities were largely along the New South Wales coast. In 1880
he was employed by the Australian Museum to assist in cataloguing the shell
collection, and one of his first tasks was to take part in an expedition to Port
Stephens where large collections were made. Brazier was soon given the official
position of conchologist and also placed in charge of the ethnological, historical
and numismatic collections. By 1891 the shell collections had grown so large that
Brazier was relieved of other duties to concentrate on marine shells alone, while
Charles Hedley joined the staff and was given responsibility for land and
freshwater shells. In the financial depression of 1893 Brazier was retrenched.
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Australian Dictionary of Biography
John William Brazier undertook extensive collections of shells along the New South Wales coast and the Barrier Reef and was a conchologist at the Australian Museum, Sydney 1880-93.
Born Sydney, 23 September 1842. Died Sydney, 20 August 1930. Accompanied his father, a captain of a whaler, on a cruise 1855 and acquired an interest in natural history, especially shell collecting; accompanied Julius Benchley on the cruise of H.M.S. "Curacoa" to Norfolk Island, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, the New Hebrides, the Solomons and New Caledonia; "Eclipse" expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1871; on H.M.S. "Blanche" to the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Marshall Islands 1872; Noumea and New Caledonia 1873; dredging cruise along the coast of New South Wales in the "Pea Hen" 1874, collecting on behalf of Sir William Macleay; member of Macleay's expedition in the "Chevert" to New Guinea via the Great Barrier Reef 1875; later collecting activities largely along the New South Wales coast; conchologist, Australian Museum, Sydney 1880-93. One of the founders of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1874, and the first paper published in the Society's "Proceedings" was by him. Many species of shell named after him.
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Encyclopedia of Australian Science