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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Middlebrook (nee Tooke, formerly Easton, formerly Beattie), Thirza

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth c. 1807
Date of arrival 1849
Principal occupation Preacher
Date of death 1882
Place of decease Willunga

Thirza Middlebrook (née Tooke) was born around 1807, probably in Norfolk on 9/7/26, Thirza married William Easton, and later gave birth to her son, Isaac Easton, and her daughter Fanny Easton. Fanny’s death is not recorded, but she clearly came to Australia with Thirza and Richard. William died in 1831, around the same year that Fanny was born. Thirza married David Beattie on 14 May 1832. She gave birth to two daughters, Thirza and Janett and a son, David. David Beattie senior died in March 1839 in Spalding, Lincolnshire. In 1841, she married Richard Middlebrook, and in 1849, the family came out to South Australia on the barque Macedon. The family were probably well placed to do well in South Australia, as Isaac Easton was an agricultural labourer and Fanny Easton was a dairy maid. Thirza Beattie (Thirza's daughter) was a housemaid.

They had expanded in numbers by then: with Richard, she had produced Hannah, Nicholas and infant Richard. Unfortunately, at Plymouth, before they boarded Macedon, a member of the family - perhaps a daughter - named Charlotte died.

After the family had settled, Thirza undertook preaching for the Primitive Methodist Church on the Willunga circuit. Primitive Methodism, with its emphasis on lay people taking a role in the church, began appointing women preachers in the UK as early as 1813. Thirza was clearly in great demand as a preacher. She was invited to preach in places such as Gawler, Glenelg, Meadows and Strathalbyn, and to important events in the Church.

Thirza died on the 17 March, 1882. Her death notice reads: “Middlebrook - On the 17th March, Thirza, the wife of Mr. R. Middlebrook, of Willunga, aged 75 years, having been a member of the Primitive Methodist Church for 60 years.”

Thirza is buried at the Strout Road cemetery, McLaren Vale. Her gravestone is exceptionally beautiful, carved by John Richards Junior. Her son, David Gregory Beattie became a butcher, with premises at 17 High Street Willunga.


  • Willunga Courthouse records
Slate headstone carved by John Richards, junior.
Slate headstone carved by John Richards, junior.

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