b. 1809, Hampshire UK d. 28 May 1874, Mount Barker SA.
Edward Brooks arrived in South Australia on 22 March 1839, having completed his apprenticeship as a painter and glazier with his uncle, John Beare of New Sarum, and probably to join another uncle, Thomas Hudson Beare already living in Adelaide.
He immediately gained employment as a painter and glazier but also provided leadlight windows for clients. He appears to have entered business on his own behalf around 1851 when he advertised his Oil, Colour, Glass and Paint Warehouse in Rundle Street, and Kermode Street, North Adelaide in the South Australian Register. He touted his experience in ‘the three oldest shops in the mother-country, conducted by his relatives’ and expressed a wish ‘to give entire satisfaction in all work entrusted to his care, having determined to execute all work in pure English style’.
In 1855 he executed a single-light window, Faith, Hope and Charity, for Mr. F.T. Dutton, as a memorial to his late wife, which was erected in Christ Church Anglican, North Adelaide. The window was made up largely of gilded text and was replced in 1901 by a figurative window, Justice and Charity, designed and made by James Powell & Sons in London, a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. Dutton.
The majority of Edward Brooks windows appear to be relatively simple leadlights or zinc lights that were in keeping with the modest buildings of that time and, as was the case at Christ Church, many of his windows have been replaced with figurative stained glass as donors and funds allowed. However, extant examples can be seen in churches at Robe, Burra, Gawler, Moonta as well as inner city Adelaide. A series of windows dedicated to his uncle, Thomas Hudson Bearre, was installed at Yankalilla in 1861 and St. John’s at Salisbury contains nine windows by Brooks.
It seems that it was not all plain sailing for Brooks as he appeared in the Insolvency Courts in 1852 and did not appear to declare a final dividend until 23 May 1954. Apparently he continued to trade, as in 1853 he took an employee, Frederick Sutch, to court for embezzling monies ‘from his master’ in January and February of that year. The man pleaded guilty of theft of 36 shillings and 18 shillings on two separate occasions, which resulted in a prison sentence of six months.
Brooks lived at Kermode Street, North Adelaide with his wife Rachel (d.1900) and had two sons, Charles Henry and William Hudson. Brooks died unexpectedly while supervising the installation of windows at the Mount Barker Catholic Church; William continued the business for some time after his father’s death. It seems that William generally maintained the 1860s style and techniques of his father and was responsible for glazing the windows at the Stirling Catholic Church in 1883.
Donovan and Donovan, 150 Years of Stained & Painred Glass, pp.32-33
South Australian Register, 1850-1901
Last updated 18/02/12