He Only Ever Went To Sea Pt.1

Augustus James Hamilton Courbarron was born at 4.am on the 12th June 1863 on his father’s farm in the town of Millbrook, parish of St Helier Jersey, in the Channel Islands. It has been said that his surname was written ‘Cour-Barron’ at the time of his birth but this has since proven to be wrong as no hyphenated version of this name exists in any of the records of the Channel Islands, nor is the name hyphenated in French archives. The name ‘Courbaron’ is a common surname in the French departments of Normandy and Brittany and in these regions ‘Courbaron’ is as common a surname as is Brown or Johnson in the United Kingdom. Somewhere along the way an extra ‘r’ made its way into the surname but the reason for this is not known, the name in France to this day continues to be spelled as ‘Courbaron’. I have this on authority from my  Courbaron relatives in Cherbourg, France.

Augustus’ father, Frederick A. Courbarron, was a farmer born in Jersey to French immigrant parents. Frederick and Mary met when she was living at the Jersey home of her sister Helen (Hamilton) de Veer and Frederick was a farmhand on a nearby farm.

Mary Hamilton could trace her ancestry in a direct line back to and beyond King Edward I of England and Philip III of France on her father’s side (through the marriage of Edward to Marguerite, daughter of Philip of France). Her Grandfather, James Hamilton, had married the Hon. Helen Pakenham, 5th daughter of Edward Micheal Pakenham the 2nd Earl Longford. Helen’s sister, Catherine (Kitty), had married Arthur Wellesley Ist Duke of Wellington. Mary was born at St Ernan’s near Ballintra in County Donegal in 1827. St Ernan’s was a house owned by the Hamilton family and was built by her father, John Hamilton of Brownhall, on an island in the estuary of the river Eske in 1826.

Brownhall demesne has been owned by the Hamilton family since the early 17th century. The original house of the Hamilton family was located at Murvagh, near Ballintra. This location is now a golf resort. In 1697 John Hamilton and his wife, Jane Crighton (daughter of Col. Abraham Crighton), moved the family seat to Ballintra where it stands today. St Ernan’s and Brownhall House comprised an estate of 17,955 acres and the Hamilton family were among the great landowners of Ireland who had arrived as Planters from Scotland.

Mary Hamilton (Courbarron): aged 13, Dresden, Prussia, 1840.

Brownhall is a three storey late-Georgian residence designed by famed architect of the period Robert Woodgate. It has a four bay front with a later single storey portico, a three bay side with a two storey wing set back. Internally there is a triglyph frieze in the hall with a heavy mid-19th century cornice in the drawing room and late cornice in the dining room.

Frederick Augustus and Mary Courbarron had four children; Augustus (known as James), Stanhope Fredrick, John Edward (known as Jack) and Mary Helen.

Augustus ‘James’ Hamilton Courbarron and Mary (Morrissey) Courbarron: Sydney, 1897.

Augustus did not like his name and only ever used it in official papers preferring to use the name James all other times. His family called him ‘Jimmie’; he mostly signed his numerous letters to his aunt/godmother in New York, Helen de Veer…”Your affectionate godson, J H Courbarron“. No-one ever called him ‘Augustus’.


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