BRANDON, LOWTHER EDWARD

1846 - 1933 from Ireland


was born in Carlow, Ireland, on 25 January 1846, the fourth of seven sons of the Rev William and Jane Brandon. They also had five daughters. Six of the seven brothers became ordained Anglican clergymen of the Church of Ireland, all of them having graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. Brandon achieved a second class testimonium * in the divinity school in 1867. The girls all either worked in missions or married clergymen.

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60 The Brandons at the Wedding.

Brandon was ordained in 1869, just at the time of the disestablishment of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. He served as a curate in Clonmore, Co Wicklow, from 1869-1872 and then as rector of Kilnehue, Co Wexford, for five years. In 1877 he was appointed to the post of colonial chaplain in the Falkland Islands. With the job of chaplain went the duties of schools inspector, and he also served on ExCo from late 1883 to 1889. After four years he returned to Ireland on leave, and married his cousin Josephine Jameson in Donnybrook, Dublin in 1881. They had no children.

The Brandons lived all their time in the Falklands in the 'old Deanery' of which the Dean wrote in 1902: 'The house is composed of two small houses which were the first two houses erected in Stanley; they were connected by the Reverend Mr. Bull' and further 'It has been the residence of the Colonial Chaplains since the appointment of the Reverend Mr. Moody in 1845'. When the building was pulled down in 1935 it was described in the Penguin as 'an unhealthy ramshackle patchwork of rooms'.

Brandon was a man of enormous energy and drive. He rode all over East and West Falkland, visiting the most remote shepherds' houses as well as the main settlements, baptizing children and holding services. The WM Dean papers record that Brandon:

...tried each year to visit every family in the Islands. A stupendous task. He always travelled with a large magic lantern to amuse the children. Station managers at times were not too pleased at having to house this outfit, especially as the Dean, though shortsighted, had his own ideas about the track, so he would often veer away from his guide, eventually having to be rescued with his horse bogged up to the belly.

In his capacity as schools inspector in 1889 Brandon reported:

When visiting the West Falkland Island and several of the smaller adjacent islands in October and November 1888, I examined fifty children, all of whom were receiving instruction from their parents. In many cases little can be done owing to the defective education of the parents themselves.

In February 1890 Brandon reported that during his annual visit to the Western Islands 'there were 17 baptisms and one marriage - at Keppel 62 children were catechised and examined'

Brandon embarked on a number of crusades, one of which was to form abstinence societies to combat the evils of drink, one for women and the other for men and youths. In 1879, when he had not been long in the Islands he was active in a petition for the release of Thomas Alday, who had been imprisoned for embezzlement. In 1890 something of a dispute with Governor KERR arose when Brandon petitioned the Secretary of State, Lord Knutsford, with reference to the 'Educational appliances etc. in the Government School in Stanley Falkland Islands'. It was a severe criticism of the public buildings used as schools, and as a residence for the schoolmaster and his family. Governor Kerr wrote a long report to accompany the petition, and also commented that both Roman Catholic and Protestant children left the Government school when the Roman Catholic priest, Father DIAMOND, opened his school.

Josephine Brandon was very much like her husband, working tirelessly for the church. She devoted herself to the Sunday schools, one held in the morning and the other in the afternoon, the Band of Hope (for children), and the music and choir of the church. She established a Sunday school library, and later the Falkland Island Children's Lending Library which opened in 1890. She also established the Stanley Lending Library, which operated from the service room of Holy Trinity Church in the first instance, and later from the vestry of the Cathedral. On occasion she also travelled with her husband. In 1909 a subscriber writing in the Falkland Islands Magazine said: 'All acquainted with its history will acknowledge that the Library was one of the chief interests of Mrs. Brandon. A diligent and omnivorous reader herself, she spent much time and thought on the Library' and goes on to say that in recognition of her thirty years of unselfish toil and self-denial which she gave for the good of young and old in the Colony it would be a fitting tribute to name the Library after her.

In May 1889 Brandon launched the monthly Falkland Islands Magazine which he typeset and printed himself. Today these magazines are a wonderful source of information for researchers, and in their own time must have been a much-appreciated source of local news to the isolated settlements. Each begins with a full-page homily, gives information on services for the coming month, including the epistle and gospel readings, and psalms for each Sunday. Births, marriages and deaths are recorded, and news of shipping giving dates of incoming and outgoing mails and passengers carried. Ordinances passed, information about the Falkland Island Social Club and Mutual Improvement Association, proceedings of the Destitute Poor Fund, the Children's Penny Savings Bank, news of Stanley Social Club, the Stanley Benefit Club and the formation of a limited Joint Stock Company to build the Public Assembly Rooms are all to be found in the first year of publication. Also circulated with the magazine were leaflets imported from England, Home Words to begin with, and by 1894 the Church Monthly. The magazine originally cost one shilling and sixpence per annum, but owing to the cost of printing was raised the following year to two shillings and sixpence per annum. However the advertisements were very much more expensive; five shillings for five lines and one shilling for every additional line of ten words or under.

Perhaps Brandon's greatest challenge came with the building of Christ Church Cathedral. In 1886 the building housing Holy Trinity (which was never consecrated) and the schoolroom was badly damaged in a peat slip, and thereafter services were held in a sail-loft fitted up for the purpose. It was decided to build a Cathedral on the site of Holy Trinity, and in 1888 Bishop STIRLING issued an appeal in the English papers for this. He records in his booklet, published in Buenos Aires in 1891 in connection with fund raising for the new church, that the colonial contributions exceed £3,000, and 'as an encouragement Her Majesty the Queen graciously sent £30'. The Bishop, and more particularly his daughter and his son-in-law Mr FW Robinson, also raised £3000, making a total of £6000, the estimated sum needed, but inevitably costs were far greater than anticipated. Indeed Mr Robinson, a busy bank manager who never set foot in the Islands, seems to have been pivotal to the whole enterprise, keeping the rather complicated accounts between South America, England and the Falkland Islands. He also oversaw the purchase in England and the freighting out of materials. Locally, fundraising bazaars and sales of work continued apace.

Bishop Stirling visited Stanley in August 1889 with the plans. The church was to be built with the stone of the old church and school, the corners being brick, and cut stone from England imported for the windows and doors. A ship was chartered to bring materials from England, and a foreman mason arrived in December. By January 1890 the excavations for the new church were almost complete, and sand was being procured from the beach for the foundations. A clerk of works and two bricklayers had arrived by February. They were to be assisted by local labour, the work force amounting to twenty men. Building was commenced, but not without delays and a tragic death. The ship Dux was badly delayed, which meant a shortage of materials, the labour force stopped work demanding a higher rate of pay, and Joseph Alazia died while quarrying stone.

By early 1892 the building was ready for consecration by Bishop Stirling, which took place on Sunday 21 February. Brandon was made Dean of the new Cathedral. A good deal still remained to be done however. The Building Fund debt stood at over £500 and this amount was loaned by Mr WW BERTRAND on the strength of an I.O.U. The Falkland Island Magazine records that the 'Tower remains unfinished. The Dado is not yet provided. The Vestry requires attention. An organ is wanted'. This last seemed an urgent requirement, for the harmonium which had done duty for nearly thirty years was worn out. In December of that year not only did the organ arrive, but also an assistant for the Dean, the Rev EC Aspinall, who three months later went on an extended tour of West Falkland and the adjacent islands, while the Dean made a tour of the south of East Falkland. Bishop Stirling visited again in early 1893, and his address pointed out in no uncertain terms that there remained much to be done, both inside and outside the Cathedral.

In early 1900 Mrs Aspinall's health broke down, and the family left the Islands in August, to be replaced in October by the Rev C Blount and family from Co Carlow, Ireland. A year later money was being raised to build Church House to accommodate the Blounts, his quarters now being required by the colonial secretary. The land had been presented to Christ Church by Mr Alex Pitaluga some years previously. The house was completed and the Blount family moved in on 1 July, 1902.

Work continued on the Cathedral for some years, as money became available from the endless fundraising efforts and generous contributions. The tower was completed in 1903, the decision having been taken that it should be ninety feet high rather than the planned one hundred and ten. The bells and clock were given by one of the main benefactors of the church, Mrs GM (Orissa) DEAN, and were hung in April 1905. The clock was set going on Easter Day, but not the chimes.

During all this time the normal life of the church in Stanley and the camp continued, with the Dean and his assistant making weeks long journeys round the East and West Falkland. The hundreds of miles covered by horse and by boat give an indication of their zeal and determination to help their far-flung parishioners. The new Bishop EVERY visited in 1903, and returned again the following year.

The Dean and Mrs Brandon went on holiday to England in 1904. They had been given a cheque for £63·15s 'with strict instructions that it was not to be expended on anything except their relaxation and enjoyment during a well earned holiday'. Notwithstanding this, it seems to have been a very busy time. Separately and together they visited many Islanders now living in England, the Dean went to the foundry to see the bells destined for Christ Church Cathedral, and 'spent many hours at Messrs. Benson learning the mechanism of the Clock'. When he returned he brought the materials for a porch at Church House.

The following year saw the new school building begun, at the rear of the Cathedral. This was opened in October 1906, and boasted a playground with a swing and a merry-go-round.

In August 1906 the Reverend C Rome Hall arrived to replace Blount who was going to Buenos Aires, and then in February the following year came the announcement that the Reverend Cyril Henry Golding Bird had been appointed to succeed Dean Brandon.

Dean and Mrs Brandon left in May 1907, going back to live in Ireland. The Dean died in July 1933 at Rathbran Glebe, Stratford on Slaney, Co Wicklow where he had been incumbent of this small Irish parish. He is commemorated by Brandon Road in Stanley.

Authors

Gervase Murphy & Sally Blake