Herbert Musgrave

Herbert Musgrave

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Herbert Musgrave, the son of Sir Anthony Musgrave, the Governor of South Australia, was born in 1876. After the death of her husband in 1888, Lady Musgrave and her three sons moved to Hurst-an-Clays in East Grinstead. Herbert, the youngest member of the family, was educated at Harrow School. In 1896 he applied and received a royal commission in the Royal Engineers. Three years later Lieutenant Musgrave was sent to South Africa and remained there throughout the Boer War.

On 25th July 1909, Herbert Musgrave was one of the spectators who witnessed the arrival of Louis Bleriot in his small monoplane at Dover. Musgrave was impressed by the sight of the first aircraft to cross the English Channel. Musgrave immediately saw the military significance of this event and went to the War Office to explain the possible dangers this invention would pose to Britain's security. Musgrave suggested the formation of a military aviation service but his ideas were rejected. Sir William Nicholson, British Chief of General Staff 1908-12, later declared that: "aviation is a useless and expensive fad advocated by a few individuals whose ideas are unworthy of attention."

Musgrave, continued his campaign for a military aviation service and when it was decided to form the Royal Flying Corps in May 1912, he was seconded from the British Army. At the time, Musgrave was one of only eleven qualified pilots in the RFC.

Musgrave became a squadron commander and placed in charge of RFC's experiments. This included research into ballooning, kiting, wireless telegraphy, photography, meteorology and bomb-dropping. In March 1915, Major Musgrave was transferred from the Royal Flying Corps back to the Headquarters of the 1st Army. Musgrave was brought back to East Grinstead after being severely wounded on 10th August, 1916. He returned to France in December 1917, and was on a patrol behind German lines when he was killed by a grenade on the 2nd June, 1918.

A great part of the early work of the Flying Corps was experimental. An experimental branch of the Military Wing was formed in March 1913 under Herbert Musgrave. Major Musgrave deserves more than a passing mention in any military history of the air. In 1909, from the cliffs of Dover, he saw M. Bleriot arrive in a monoplane, and was so impressed by the sight that he went straight to the War Office to draw attention to the military significance of this portent, and its threat to our insular security. from this time forward his mind was set on aeronautics.

When war comes, be assured it will come suddenly. We shall wake up one night, find ourselves at war. Another thing is certain - this war will be no walkover. In the military sphere it will be the hardest, fiercest, and bloodiest struggle we have ever had to face and probably every one of us here tonight will take part in it. We need not be afraid of overdoing our preparations.

On September 18th the first experiments with dropping bombs from the air were made by Major Musgrave. One bomb was dropped, and it exploded, but not exactly where nor how it was expected to explode.

Major Musgrave was severely wounded in August 1916. almost two years later, on the night of the 2nd of June 1918, having persuaded a battalion commander to let him accompany a patrol, he was killed by a rifle grenade, inside the German lines. He desired no personal advancement, and would have thought no other honour so great as to die for his country. Such men, though the records of their lives are buried under a mass of tedious detail, are the engineers of victory.

Major Herbert Musgrave, of Dunnings Road, youngest son of the late Sir Anthony Musgrave and Lady Musgrave at Hurst-an-Clays, has been killed in action in France on 3rd June. Born in 1876, the major was educated at Harrow School and was given a royal commission in the Royal Engineers in 1896. He served in the Boer War from 1899-1902. From 1913 to 1914 in the Royal Flying Corps. During 1915 he served at the Headquarters of the 1st Army, from where he was transferred to France in December, 1918. He leaves a widow and a young child and his beloved mother.

Herbert Musgrave Phipson

Herbert Musgrave Phipson (1850 – 7 August 1936), was a British wine merchant and naturalist who lived in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, from 1878 to 1905. As the honorary secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society, editor of its Journal, and manager of the Society's business and outreach activities, he played an important role in establishing the journal's reputation as the foremost natural history journal in Asia he also influenced public science policy in the Bombay Presidency. Ώ] His efforts saw fruition in the establishment of the Natural Sciences section of the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India. Phipson, who was married to the pioneering physician Edith Pechey-Phipson, co-founded, with his wife, the Pechey Phipson Sanitarium for Women and Children in Nasik, India. Ώ]

MUSGRAVE, Sir William (by 1506-44), of Hartley, Westmld. Edenhall, Cumb. and London.

b. by 1506, 1st s. of Sir Edward Musgrave of Hartley and Edenhall by Jane, da. and coh. of Sir Christopher Ward of Grindale, Yorks. m. (1) by 1524, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Curwen of Workington, Cumb., 1s. Richard (2) Elizabeth, da. and h. of Philip Denkaring, wid. of Thomas Tamworth (d. Jan. 1533) of Essex and Lincs. ?(3) 1540, a da. of Thomas, 3rd Lord Burgh. Kntd. 25 Sept. 1523 suc. fa. 23 May 1542.1

Offices Held

Under sheriff, Cumb. 1527-8 sheriff 1532-3, 1541-2 knight of the body by 1529 marshal, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. 18 Dec. 1529 j.p. Cumb. 1530-d. constable or keeper, Bewcastle, Cumb. and chief forester, Nichol forest 29 Apr. 1531 assistant in west marches to dep. warden of marches 1537.2


The Musgraves had lived at Musgrave itself until their acquisition of Hartley in the reign of Edward III. As a Westmorland family, they were tenants and followers of the Cliffords, but in the latter half of the 15th century the marriage of Thomas Musgrave to the heiress of the Stapletons of Edenhall brought them into Cumberland, where the Cliffords were less powerful than the Dacres. Although their Cumberland estates were mostly held of the crown in chief, it may have been to avoid the prospect of their passing out of Clifford sphere of influence that, in the next generation, Sir Richard Musgrave was married to Joan, daughter of Thomas, 8th Lord Clifford.3

Although the son of this marriage, Sir Edward Musgrave, remained a Dacre man, his son William strongly opposed the Dacres and while looking to the crown for advancement was, in border terms, a Clifford supporter. His election in 1529, while still a young man, as knight of the shire for Westmorland must be ascribed to the patronage of Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland the earl was hereditary sheriff of that county and Musgrave’s fellow-knight, Blenkinsop, was one of his servants. In the course of the Parliament the two were to forge their own alliance, Blenkinsop’s son marrying Musgrave’s sister. Both were probably returned to the Parliament of June 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the re-election of the previous Members, and may have been again to that of 1539, for which the names of knights of the shire for Westmorland are unknown. That Musgrave had needed the earl’s help in obtaining the knighthood of the shire is borne out by the fact that, although his dubbing at Jedburgh in 1523 was a memento of his military service, his only civilian employment had been as under sheriff of Cumberland during his father’s year as sheriff. This was the time of his first known clash with the Dacres. Put in charge of one Richie Grahame, who had been accused of warning the Scots of a projected Dacre raid (in which Musgrave was to have taken part), he had allowed his charge considerable freedom and Grahame had escaped: the Dacres accused him of negligence, but could not make the charge stick.4

On 18 Dec. 1529, the morrow of the close of the first session of the Parliament, Musgrave was appointed marshal of Berwick, being described in the grant as a knight of the body 11 months later he was granted an annuity of 20 marks out of Penrith mills, Cumberland, during his father’s lifetime, and in April 1531 he was made constable of Bewcastle, with a further annuity of £20. This last appointment provoked fresh trouble with the Dacres, as the office was one which William, 3rd Lord Dacre had wanted for himself, and during the next three years disputes became endemic. Then in 1534 Musgrave struck at the Dacre power in the west marches. He accused Lord Dacre and Sir Christopher Dacre of conspiring with the Scots both against the realm and against himself: Lord Dacre, he claimed, had ‘sought traitorously to deceive the King, and machinated to the extent that Sir Will Musgrave, constable of Bow Castle, or Both Castle, and all his tenants might be slain by the Scots, and their house and chattels destroyed’. That Musgrave had acted with the approval, if not indeed at the behest, of the government is shown both by the make-up of the commission which considered the charges and by his own letter of 12 June to Cromwell. ‘This service to the King’, he wrote, ‘will, however, be chargeable to me, and you and I shall especially bear the blame in this matter touching the Lord Dacre and Sir Christopher his uncle. Therefore stand stiffly upon it, that I may have your aid’ he closed on a personal note, asking Cromwell to be good to his mother-in-law, ‘for she has been good to me in setting me forth for the King’s service’. Personal enmity apart, Musgrave was undoubtedly encouraged to attack the Dacres by his relationship with the court and government and by his alliance, through his Curwen marriage, with that group of border gentry, led by (Sir) Thomas Wharton I, who were challenging the dominance of the magnates, whether Clifford, Dacre or Percy. Musgrave’s son Richard would later introduce a bill to deprive the Cliffords of their hereditary shrievalty of Westmorland, but he himself was able to reconcile his loyalties, to the crown and to the Cliffords.5

Unfortunately for Musgrave, Lord Dacre was acquitted, and the next surviving letter to Cromwell was a recital of his troubles, especially monetary ones. He asked the minister to remind the 3rd Duke of Norfolk of the 100 marks a year which his father Sir Edward had promised to give him at the time of his knighting by Norfolk (then Earl of Surrey), and added, ‘Hitherto I have had only 40 marks of my feoffment’. Norfolk, he knew, ‘does not favour me for the Lord Dacre’s matter . ’ and had ‘desired me to marry my son to the Lord Dacre’s daughter, for if I did not it would ruin me’. During the Pilgrimage of Grace some of the Dacre following seem to have staged a brief rising solely to attack Musgrave, who with John Musgrave, his deputy at Bewcastle, had refused to take the insurgents’ oath. Musgrave then went to help Lord Clifford defend Carlisle but the rebels optimistically named both him and Wharton among their deputies for the York conference. At one point Musgrave was with Cumberland at Skipton, having apparently by then taken the rebel oath in order to move about more freely. In January 1537 Cumberland sent his son Clifford to the King in company with Musgrave and Wharton, while Sir John Neville I, 3rd Lord Latimer, a brother-in-law of Musgrave’s, sought his help to clear himself of suspicion. Although Musgrave should have had little to fear from his own reception, he was so ‘pensive’ on his return to his London house in St. Botolph’s without Aldersgate that his wife feared he had ‘fallen in displeasure’. In this she was proved wrong, for after he had sat on a Carlisle jury to try some of the rebels, the border reshuffle of 1537 saw Musgrave made Wharton’s assistant in the west marches at a salary of £10 a year.6

Elizabeth Musgrave seems to have been nearer the mark in her view that after his stand against the rebels her husband could never again live in Westmorland. In July 1537 Norfolk reported to Cromwell that Bewcastle was not properly held as Musgrave ‘who has the rule lives in London’ (where he had been admitted to the freedom of the City at the request of Cromwell on 19 Jan. 1535) and his deputy ‘Jack of Musgrave’ was an unsuitable commander. Old enmities may have been at work here, although the fact that the duke recommended Wharton, another opponent of the Dacres, for the place suggests that he meant what he said: unlike Wharton, Musgrave was not a dedicated borderer. Norfolk repeated his criticism a month later when there was further trouble at Bewcastle, this time with both Musgrave and his deputy absent in London: the duke’s comment that Wharton was one ‘whom the Musgraves love not’ is a surprising one unless it refers to Sir Edward Musgrave’s quarrel with the Whartons. Musgrave himself remained at loggerheads with the Dacres: in April 1539 Lord Dacre told Cromwell that he was sending up Sir Christopher Dacre in the hope that a settlement could be reached while Cumberland and Musgrave were both in London, Cumberland presumably for the Parliament which opened on 28 Apr. and which Musgrave may also have attended.7

Musgrave could certainly have done with the financial protection which Membership afforded. In March 1540 he was writing about his parlous state to Cromwell, who had had an inventory taken of Musgrave’s goods at Putney: pointing to his service against Dacre and during the rebellion he observed tartly, ‘Others of that country have been advanced for less’. His second wife’s death had made matters worse, and both Cromwell and, less directly, Archbishop Cranmer, a kinsman of the Tamworths, got involved in them. One possible solution, another marriage, Musgrave certainly contemplated and may have tried: one of the grounds on which Thomas 3rd Lord Burgh asked Cromwell on 30 Mar. 1540 to be excused attendance at Parliament was that he was busy with the marriage of his daughter to Musgrave, although there seems to be no certainty that the marriage took place. Several years earlier, Musgrave’s brother-in-law Latimer had taken as his third wife the widow of Sir Edward Burgh and a future Queen, Catherine Parr: this marriage may have contributed to an easing of border tensions, for in 1537 it was recorded in instructions given to Sir Anthony Browne that the King had reconciled Lord Clifford and Musgrave on the one part, and Lord Dacre and the Parrs on the other.8

In 1542 Musgrave fought at Solway Moss. In the following year he was ordered overseas with 100 borderers and in April 1544 the forces under his and Thomas Dacre’s command were given as 200 out of the west marches, but as Wharton noted a month later that Musgrave was not owed any conduct money ‘because he is attendant in court’ he may not have served overseas. His father had died two years before and on 1 July 1544 he had livery of his landed inheritance he was to enjoy it for less than four months, his own death following on 18 Oct. 1544. No will has been discovered but the wardship of his son Richard was granted to Wharton.9

Musgrave has been numbered among the borderers who ‘were given opportunities not unlike those offered Wharton, but shied away from the hard duties which rule in the marches involved’. Yet alongside any such personal shortcoming must be set his lifelong wait for his inheritance from a father whom he came to oppose even while remaining dependent on him: if like Wharton he had both come early into his patrimony and been liberally endowed by his noble patron he might have made more of a name for himself in border history.10

Musgrave History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

"This name, so largely represented in England, is repeated further on its modernized from of Musgrave and the heralds, ignoring its origin, labour to affiliate it to the German Graf. They declare that, like Land-grave, Burg-grave, Mar-grave, &c., it is 'a name of office:' and as Mews in old days meant the cage of place where hawks were kept while mewing (moulting), and in after time came to signify either the keeper of the King's hawks of the King's equerry."

"In support of this etymological vagary, they tell us that once upon a time an Emperor of Germany or Archduke of Austria (we will accept either) had a beautiful daughter who was courted by two valiant nobles. Each of them hail done him such 'singular good service that he did not care to prefer one to the other.' At last it was agreed that they should ride at the ring for the princess and whichever succeeded in carrying it off should marry her. Musgrave triumphantly drove his spear through the ring, became the Emperor's son-in-law, and in memory of his exploit, had the six golden annulets now borne by the Musgraves of Westmorland granted him for his coat of arms. " [2]

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Early Origins of the Musgrave family

The surname Musgrave was first found in Herefordshire where "Robert de Mucelgros is mentioned about 1080 and Roger de Mucelgros, in 1086, was a tenant-in-chief [3] where he has left his name to Lude Muchgros. His descendants spread far and wide. Charlton Musgrove in Somersetshire was, with other manors, held by Richard de Mucegros in the time of King John and he was also farmer of the county of Gloucester." [2]

"Robert de Mucegros married Helewise, one of the coheirs of the Barony of Malet and though Charlton passed away through an heiress in the beginning of Edward I.'s reign, the name, as Musgrave continued in the county. John Musgrave was Sheriff of Wiltshire, where he had 2 Ric. III. Another John had been during five years Sheriff of Devon under Henry III." [2]

Great Musgrave and Little Musgrave in Cumberland became home to a branch of the family. The family "originally seated at Musgrave in Westmerland, [Westmorland] and traced to the time of King John, about the year 1204. " [4]

Early feudal rolls provided the king of the time a method of cataloguing holdings for taxation, but today they provide a glimpse into the wide surname spellings in use at that time. Alan de Musegrave was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls for Northumberland in 1228, Thomas de Musgraue listed in the Assize Rolls for Yorkshire in 1362 and Robert Musgrave was found in Yorkshire in 1413. [5] Another early record was that of Roger de Mussegrave who was listed in the Writs of Parliament in 1277. [6]

Charlton Musgrove is a village and civil parish in Somerset that dates back to the Domesday Book where it was listed as Cerletone later in 1225, it was listed as Cherleton Mucegros [7] relating to the Mucegros family who had a manor there at that time.

Today there are numerous locations named Musgrave: Musgrave, Belfast Musgrave Park, Brisbane Australia and Mount Musgrave, Newfoundland and New Zealand.


Whilst this personal project is just an attempt to explore the local legacy of the First World War, but at a global scale, it has struck me that it is much more than that. At the heart of it is the legacy of those who died in the conflict, and especially the scale of the imapct that that would have had on their local communities, it would also never have been possible without the significant legacy created by those who remained, from the families who sent in photographs of their loved ones and which formed the Imperial War Museum's founding Bond of Sacrifice Collection, through the people who diligently compiled official records in the early 1920s and which formed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records, right up to the modern-day professionals, volounteers and individuals who have shaped these records, shared them, and also significantly increased and enriched them, especially under the guise of First World War Centenary projects like Lives of the First World War

Data and Sources

This project simply wouldn't exist without the core assets that it draws on. It currently contains nearly 500,000 location records for 410,000 men and women who died whilst serving in the First World War.

    - IWM's unique project enabling everyone to share their information, stories and images to compile Life Stories "on nearly 8 million men and women who served in uniform and worked on the home front". - a unique online collection of the details of every serviceman or woman. Many of the locations here are extracted from what they call the 'Additional information' field, which typically contains text such as "Son of Samuel and Sarah Morley, of Derby husband of F. M. Morley, of 113, Peel St., Ashbourne Rd., Derby.". Note that this information was collected sevral years after the end of the war and it does not necessarily represent an address that the person had lived at. - one of the richest collections of First World War objects and images, most notably in this context the Bond of Sacrifice Collection and the Women's War Work Collection, togther comprising images of nearly 20,000 individuals who served - another unique record from the Imperial War Museum, comprising records of over 78,000 memorials in the British Isles, together with listings of over one million names that appear on them.

With specific regards to the images, these are from one of three sources - the incredible Bond of Sacrifice Collection, the Women's War Work Collection (both Imperial War Museums), or uploaded by volunteers and individuals to the Lives of the First World War site (which itself is run by IWM). I am grateful to them for making all these available under a non-commercial license.

Additional credits for the software and mapping resources that this is built on

  • Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL. , the powerful open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps.

Contributing records, reporting errors

The data currently presented has all been extracted from official records or from user contributions to the Lives of the First World War site. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to add further details to find the Life Story of the person and add details there, which can then in future be added to this site

The inherrent nature of historic records and using modern automated tools to extract information means there are bound to be issues. I will shortly be adding a 'report error' link to each record that can be used to flag an issue and will be queued up ready to be investigated and fixed. I'm afraid as this is a personal project created in my own time, I cannot respond to individual requests right now.


For information, questions and bug reports please contact James Morley @jamesinealing | [email protected]

The indigenous history of Musgrave Park

Before white settlement, there were about 20,000 Aborigines living in southeast Queensland.

That number dropped to about 2000 after settlers arrived.

Protesters' new tent embassy in Musgrave Park. Credit: Tony Moore

How much do you know about Brisbane's indigenous history - and how South Brisbane's Musgrave Park fits into it?

Aboriginal history expert Dr Carroll Go–Sam says southeast Queenslanders generally know very little about the Brisbane region’s indigenous history.

Very few indeed would know about the indigenous history of South Brisbane and what was now called Musgrave Park, widely known as a meeting place for Aboriginal people, she said.

Just a few people can speak with authority on plans to establish a cultural centre at Musgrave Park. Dr Go-Sam is one of them.

The previous Bligh Government was trying to get the cultural centre up and running at South Bank before it lost office, Dr Go-Sam said.

Dr Go-Sam works for the University of Queensland’s Aboriginal Environments Research Centre and is an adviser to Arts Queensland on the project.

She is also an historian of Aboriginal history and wrote the original funding brief to secure $5 million for the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre.

Dr Go–Sam believes before an indigenous cultural centre is established in Brisbane - and the previous state government recently explored options at Kangaroo Point, Mt Gravatt, Woollongabba and near the Gallery of Modern Art at South Brisbane, as well as Musgrave Park - some basics about the city's indigenous history must be understood.

Before the creation of the city of Brisbane, a community of tens of thousands of Aboriginal people lived along what is now the Brisbane River.

‘‘In southeast Queensland, some of the estimates were around 20,000 and it reduced down to scattering groups of around 2000 after contact,’’ Dr Go-Sam said.

‘‘There was obviously a significant decline - and I am not asserting that it was all through massacres.

‘‘There was also lack of resistance to common diseases that the white population was immune to, like colds, smallpox measles and so forth.

‘‘There was also the depletion of the food resources and the history of enslavement.’’

She praised a current ‘‘scholarly’’ exhibition about the region’s indigenous history by the Brisbane Historical Society.

Dr Go-Sam said it was difficult to get ‘‘verification’’ of Aboriginal history in what was now Musgrave Park, though much more was known about the Woolloongabba area.

‘‘There is so little direct historic Indigenous accounts of Musgrave Park and its usage and significance to Indigenous people,’’ Dr Go-Sam said.

‘‘There is lots of talk about it being a sacred site and so forth, but when you trace those references they are not incredibly reliable and don’t stack up anthropologically.’’

But that did not mean the area was not important - only very difficult to verify, she said.

‘‘There is obviously Indigenous history of more significance in places like Woollongabba, but those places now have roads and buildings sitting on them,’’ she said.

She said Musgrave Park was growing in significance because it had not been built upon and because it was an important site.

However much of its history was oral history and often referenced to people who were un-named.

Musgrave Park was first set up as a park circa the 1840s, well before Brisbane State High School was built.

Dr Go-Sam is cautious about accepting whether ceremonies were performed in the area, or that there is a bora ring (a tribal ceremonial ground) in the park near Cordelia Street, preferring to balance legend with facts that she can verify.

Much of the tribal knowledge of Musgrave Park comes from an interview of a tribal Aborigine, known as William MacKenzie, born in 1873 and who lived in an area between Caboolture and Caloundra.

In interviews given during the 1950s, Mr MacKenzie told of a bora ring at Musgrave Park in one interview but this was not mentioned in another, making verification of the fact complex, she said.

‘‘Because [no] contemporary people have an association to William MacKenzie . it’s all been an oral history,'' she said.

Mr MacKenzie told of regional ceremonies, marriage exchange ceremonies, trade ceremonies and of a journey he made to the South Brisbane edge of the river, which others say was Musgrave Park.

Dr Ros Kidd is an historian who assembled a large amount of information about the indigenous history of South Brisbane compiled when the Princess Alexandra Hospital asked for a background paper on the region’s Aboriginal history.

‘‘My understanding is that it has always been a meeting area, where various people met coming down from the north or up from the south,’’ Dr Kidd said.

‘‘It was commonly used and very important.

‘‘There were huge meetings, according to some of the early writers like Thomas Petrie. He mentioned large gatherings of people.

‘‘So it does become very important in sharing culture and sharing our history of what people have been through.’’

Dr Kidd said her research found evidence of ‘‘demonstration corroborees’’ being held at the site.

‘‘People would give demonstration corroborees which actually told the story of their own experiences, for the benefit of other people at those gatherings,'' she said.

‘‘So as far as I understand it, it has always been a meeting place and has always been important.’’

Does she think Brisbane should have an indigenous cultural centre, and should it be at Musgrave Park?

Dr Go-Sam said she believed there was ‘⟎rtainly a good reason and plenty of support to have it.

''I think as time progresses the complications of native title has muddied the fences of an indigenous community that was once there prior to native title.

'ɺnd the Brisbane indigenous community has become more fractured.’’

Dr Go–Sam said she believed shifting the site of the cultural centre to a new area of South Bank - an idea put forward by former premier Anna Bligh before the 2012 election - was an attempt to get a fresh start.

Dr Kidd said she wouldn't comment on whether Musgrave Park was suitable '�use I am not of their community. They would know best.

‘‘But as an outsider, it is such an important piece of land, so close to the city, it seems to me to be an ideal place to have a major cultural centre celebrating Aborigional culture and the history of the area.

Musgrave Park – The Early Days

Over time, Musgrave Park in South Brisbane has been perceived in many different ways, reflecting changes both in our society and in the demographics of the surrounding area. Come with me on a journey through the history of the park.

Before European Settlement

The site of today’s Musgrave Park lay for untold millennia within a relatively highly populated area. Large numbers of visitors from surrounding districts frequently came to the central Brisbane area for ceremonies.

The higher portion of what was to become the park was part of an habitual camping area that stretched along a ridge roughly aligned with Vulture Street as far as the Mater Hospital. A recollection from 1915 written by William Clark describes Aboriginal people ‘camped in their bark and bough gunyas under the trees at the foot of Highgate Hill, and on the slanting sides of Cumbooquepa”.

The camp was still in use at least as late as 1855, as can be seen in the view below from the vicinity of Dorchester Street.

“South Brisbane , Moreton Bay, Australia” Thomas Baines 1868, from a sketch made July, 1855. (National Library of Australia)

The low lying part of the park to the north included a gully and a water hole. Before urban development took place, numerous creeks flowed down from Highgate Hill after rain, feeding the swampy area that constituted much of South Brisbane (see my post Kurilpa – Water, Water, Everywhere ). This and the surrounding rainforest along the river and the nearby hills were plentiful hunting grounds.

One local oral tradition has it that the area around the current swimming pool was a women’s place used for the initiation of girls reaching puberty.

There were memories of a bora ring in the park being used into the 1870s. It’s not certain whether this was a pre-existing bora ring or a new one built as ancient ones were located on land no longer accessible. Axe heads and stone scrapers have been found in the vicinity of the park.

As the only public space left in South Brisbane after European development, the ground that would become Musgrave Park became a gathering area for Aboriginal people.

The 19th Century

The map extract below dating from 1858 shows the South Brisbane Recreation Reserve, as the park was then known, lying inside the red town boundary but beyond the limit of suburban subdivision at that time.

The Recreation Reserve that would become Musgrave Park, 1858. It was inside the town boundary, shown in red. (Brisbane City Council Archives)

The Queensland Gazette of 1865 records the nomination of the initial trustees of the reserve as T. B. Stephens ( South Brisbane War Memorial Park and the Disappearing Ridge ), W. T. Blakeney ( The Blakeneys of Highgate Hill ), Samuel Stevens and William Baynes.

South Brisbane in 1868. The Recreation Reserve is in the centre of the photo, beyond the line of houses. (State Library of Queensland)

In the 1860s, many immigrants arrived at the wharves of South Brisbane and were allowed to stay for up to a month in the primitive immigration depot located at today’s Southbank. Overflow accommodation was in Government supplied tents erected in various locations around town. Between 1864 and 1868 the population of Queensland jumped from 61,000 to almost 100,00, largely fueled by immigration.

Over 10,000 arrived in 1863 alone. The majority arrived in Brisbane. Tent accommodation was arranged on the high part of the Recreation Reserve. In October of that year, which saw heavy rainfall, one commentator described the “miseries endured in those torn and tattered tents which neither wind proof nor water proof disfigure the environs of our town”. There were insufficient tents and some families had to shelter from the rain under trees. Others made makeshift humpies.

South Brisbane in the 1860s. In the background on the left can be seen immigrant tents amongst the trees in the Recreation Reserve. (State Library of Queensland)

The first piece of the reserve to be lost was the south eastern corner, adjacent to Vulture Street. The parishioners of St Thomas’ Anglican Church, which was located on Melbourne Street, wisely wanted to build a new church on higher ground free from flooding. In 1875, a portion of the reserve adjoining Vulture Street was excised and sold at auction. There were a number of influential parishioners who made this happen, including Registrar-General William Theophilus Blakeney. As mentioned above, he was also a trustee of the reserve! Others included several judges, senior public servants and politicians.

Church trustees purchased most of the land. Construction of the new church of St. Andrew, designed by Andrea Stombuco, began in 1878 and the first stage was completed in 1883.

In this 1881 photo showing the upper part of the reserve, St Andrew’s Anglican Church is under construction. (State Library of Queensland)

The parish representatives were outbid on one 32 perch block by David Grayson, who it seems was against the reserve being reduced in size. He paid £130 for his block, around twice the price of the others.

This colourful character, referred to in one newspaper article as “The bumptious ex-Alderman”, had a number of run-ins with the law and was found guilty of assault and corruption whilst on the Brisbane Council. The Parish purchased the land from his estate after he died in 1887 and the rectory was built on it that year. The rectory was sold and removed to Pullenvale around 1988.

The Queensland Rugby Union team that played NSW ca. 1883. (State Library of Queensland)

The 1870s saw the beginning of organised football games and cricket matches in the park.

Around this time a number of football clubs were established in Brisbane. In these early days, matches alternated between what we would now call Australian Rules, Rugby Union or League and Soccer. Rugby became the dominant code in the following years.

Cricket clubs had also started to multiply in Brisbane although many only lasted a few years. Many teams playing in the park such as Government Printing Office, Telegraph Operators, Hoffnung and Co. and South Brisbane Grocers were workplace based.

Sir Anthony Musgrave, Governor of Queensland 1883 – 1888. (State Library of Queensland)

The wheels of Colonial Government turned slowly and in 1883, 18 years after the nomination of the trustees, they finally obtained the title deeds to the land.

In the following year, it was decided to name the park in honour of the Colony’s Governor, Anthony Musgrave. He died in office 4 years later.

The Telegraph (Brisbane) 8th October, 1884 (TROVE).

Funding for the park was an ongoing issue, with the Colonial Government holding the purse strings and the cash strapped South Brisbane Municipality only able to provide labour. The trustees were often seeking more funding from the Minister.

Grass removal, Musgrave Park. Telegraph (Brisbane) 30 Jan. 1926. (TROVE)

Funding continued to be an issue well into the 20th century. Periods of economic difficulty such as the 1890s and 1930s inevitably led to complaints of the park being unkempt and overgrown with tall weeds.

In 1885, there was some discussion in letters to the editor regarding the terrible smell emanating from the park, described by one correspondent as a “municipal stinkpot”. The dumping of rubbish was commonplace. Also slush water from houses in Edmondstone Street ran into the park and contributed to the stench.

There had been some development with trees and gardens. In 1889, the theft of flowers and bushes got to the point at which a guard was stationed in the park. He apprehended two young women who were picking flowers but they were let off after pleading ignorance of the rules!

A view of South Brisbane ca 1884. I’ve outlined Musgrave Park in red. The suburb of West End has sprung up beyond the park. (Fryer Library UQ)

The park also was occupied by homeless people, in a time with little in the way of social assistance. Following a period of high immigration driven by Government marketing in Britain and subsidies for travel, the Queensland economy stagnated in the late 1880s before slipping into a prolonged recession in the next decade. Unemployment was on the rise.

Queensland Figaro and Punch, 21st August 1886. (TROVE)

In 1888, for example, there was a report of a woman living in the park who early in the morning stole milk from the delivery man and house verandahs. The South Brisbane Council passed a by-law legalizing the removal of ‘undesirable persons’ and forbade camping. Often the homeless were arrested for vagrancy.

Despite all of this, Musgrave Park’s role as a major sports venue, that was to continue for over 100 years, was increasing. The South Brisbane Lawn Tennis Club based in the park was founded in 1886 with both male and female members. Tennis was one of the few sports deemed socially acceptable for women at the time (see my post Tennis).

Some work was done to fill in low parts of the park, but there was still a large gully where children swam after rain. A letter published in the Brisbane Courier in 1927 mentions that an old cricket pitch lay 3 to 4 feet (about a metre) below the current one and that a water hole was once located near to this location.

In the great flood of 1893, about half of the park was inundated along with most of South Brisbane.

The northern end of Musgrave Park viewed from Edmondston Street during the 1893 flood . (Fryer Library UQ)

This was also a period of increasing prestige of the surrounding area. Fine houses were built on Edmondstone Street facing the park. A few survive, such as the heritage listed Brighton and Kemptown, Staigersleigh and The Quinta .

Text supplied by Chas Schaedel and the South Australian Aviation Museum History Group

Herbert MUSGRAVE was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on 11 May 1876 and educated at Harrow School, ENGLAND. He was the son of Sir Anthony Musgrave ( Governor of South Australia) and Lady Jeanie Lucinda Field. After his Father's death in 1888 the family returned to England to live.

Herbert enlisted in the British Army on 26 March 1896 (aged 20yrs) and joined the Royal Engineers direct from the Royal Military Academy as Second Lieutenant on 1 March 1898, being promoted to Lieutenant one year later. He served throughout the Boer War, was Mentioned in Despatches on 18 February and 10 September 1901 and was awarded the Queens's Medal with 5 clasps and the King's Medal with 2 clasps. Between 3 June 1901 and 20 Septmeber 1904 he served with the South African Constabulary gaining a promotion to Captain on 1 March 1905. After attending the Staff College he was appointed to staff positions in Malta from April 1908 - 1912.

In October 1912 Musgrave learnt to fly at Bristol School and on 12 November gained RAeC Certificate 357. In March 1913 he was gazetted Squadron Commander RFC and posted to Farnborough as Office in Charge of experiments. Before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he was Deputy Assistant to the Director of Military Aeronautics, and after the start of hostilities he went to France as Major with the RFC Headquaters Staff (HQ). He was appointed CO of the new HQ Wireless Telegraphy Unit which became No. 9 (Wireless) Squadron before the end of 1914. This Unit was ultimately responsible for the development of the RFC system. For his work in this area Musgrave was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 18 February 1915 and was also Mentioned in Despatches before returning at his own request to the Army staff in March 1915.

Musgrave was again Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1916 and was wounded on 10 August 1916 requiring extensive surgery and recuperation for many months. Upon his recovery he returned to the Front as a member of the Royal Engineers Staff (HQ) 2nd Corps but was killed in action on 2 June 1918 whilst on patrol behind enemy lines.

Text supplied by Chas Schaedel and the South Australian Aviation Museum History Group

Herbert MUSGRAVE was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on 11 May 1876 and educated at Harrow School, ENGLAND. He was the son of Sir Anthony Musgrave ( Governor of South Australia) and Lady Jeanie Lucinda Field. After his Father's death in 1888 the family returned to England to live.

Herbert enlisted in the British Army on 26 March 1896 (aged 20yrs) and joined the Royal Engineers direct from the Royal Military Academy as Second Lieutenant on 1 March 1898, being promoted to Lieutenant one year later. He served throughout the Boer War, was Mentioned in Despatches on 18 February and 10 September 1901 and was awarded the Queens's Medal with 5 clasps and the King's Medal with 2 clasps. Between 3 June 1901 and 20 Septmeber 1904 he served with the South African Constabulary gaining a promotion to Captain on 1 March 1905. After attending the Staff College he was appointed to staff positions in Malta from April 1908 - 1912.

In October 1912 Musgrave learnt to fly at Bristol School and on 12 November gained RAeC Certificate 357. In March 1913 he was gazetted Squadron Commander RFC and posted to Farnborough as Office in Charge of experiments. Before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he was Deputy Assistant to the Director of Military Aeronautics, and after the start of hostilities he went to France as Major with the RFC Headquaters Staff (HQ). He was appointed CO of the new HQ Wireless Telegraphy Unit which became No. 9 (Wireless) Squadron before the end of 1914. This Unit was ultimately responsible for the development of the RFC system. For his work in this area Musgrave was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 18 February 1915 and was also Mentioned in Despatches before returning at his own request to the Army staff in March 1915.

Musgrave was again Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1916 and was wounded on 10 August 1916 requiring extensive surgery and recuperation for many months. Upon his recovery he returned to the Front as a member of the Royal Engineers Staff (HQ) 2nd Corps but was killed in action on 2 June 1918 whilst on patrol behind enemy lines.

10 thoughts on &ldquo More Tales from Musgrave Park &rdquo

Just a note to add to your Musgrave Park story. This is an extract from a piece I wrote about Brisbane and swimming for the “Secret Brisbane” website on the 50th anniversary of the pool. Always enjoy your local history pieces.
Steve Capelin

“Musgrave Park (1967—not a ‘Memorial Pool’) was the last pool of this era to be built, even though it had been proposed almost 30 years earlier. In 1938, the Queensland Amateur Swimming Association lobbied for a more sophisticated training facility. The Council chose Musgrave Park as the preferred location, but the idea was vetoed by the state government, which deemed it to:

‘imperil the attractiveness and continuing success of a school so long established as the Brisbane State High School.’5

In 1967, the proposal was revived by the Clem Jones administration. Like the ‘Memorial Pools’ of this era it did not have the flashy design of the heritage-listed, architect-designed (by James Birrell) Centenary Pool, built to mark the anniversary of the declaration of Queensland as a state. But it did have one special feature. The pool was designed to comply with international competition standards for water polo. Musgrave Park Pool was opened by the LM Ald Clem Jones on the 18 November 1967 – the same year that the Davies Park Pool closed.

A year later, the Barracudas Water Polo Club became the resident club, going on to become the most successful in Queensland, contributing 12 members to the National Water Polo team over eight Olympics.

In 50 years Musgrave Park Pool has had only five lessees. Alan Humphreys, the current and longest serving leaseholder has clocked up almost 20 years. In a former life, he should have been an Olympian.

Alan’s story is both surprising and instructive. At the selection trials for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics (the Australian Swimming Championships), Alan qualified second in the 200 metres breaststroke. Weirdly, the selectors chose to take the first and third place-getters leaving Alan behind to watch the event in black and white on TV, and definitely not in real time. The man who beat him, whom Alan had swum second to at the trials, won the event in world record time. Alan might have been the silver medal winner.”

Thanks Steve. There are just so many layers of interesting history when you start digging. Was the 1964 Olympic selection one of those State rivalry things? I had a friend who was passed over for track cycling in a Commonwealth Games and he maintained it was because of the selector choosing someone from his State.

Not from what Alan told me. More a case of Alan shouldn’t have come second. The third place-getter was the anointed one so they broke their own rules and took him. Additionally, Alan was a bit of a wild boy in swimming circles. As a fifteen year old he was in a relationship with one of the eighteen year old female Olympians. Maybe they feared he might be the next Dawn Fraser. Alan is still baffled by the decision to this day accepts it as a fact of history but hasn’t forgiven them.

Dear Paul – this removal of the Randall studio is another disgrace – I can remember the two story structure in Musgrave park, before its removal to Mt Cootha. I can’t find photos of the original structure. It was originally in front of the old bowling club.

Hi Quentin as I recall it it may have been suffering from vandalism with its timbers being removed .

A point of correction regarding the water polo club Barracudas. The original club was in fact Tugun. They were a off shoot of Tugun Surf Lifesaving Club. Many members were involved in the transition to Barracudas years later.
This transition was approx mid to late 80s.

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