Ellen Jane Brown was the Mayoress of the City of Adelaide (sister of the Mayor) from 1894-1898.

Early Life

Ellen was born on 21 August 1862 at Walkerville. Ellen and Charles were the children of William Henry Tucker and his wife Eliza née Samler, who had arrived in South Australia from London in December 1848, aboard the Hooghly. On 13 September 1886, Ellen married Thomas Brown at Christ Church, North Adelaide. Her first child, Vera, was born in 1887, followed by another daughter, Irene, in 1891.


Ellen served as Acting Mayoress for all social engagements throughout Charles’ term of office. As befit the times, newspapers referred to her as Mrs T. Brown, or simply, Mrs Brown. She was often assisted by her sister-in-law – ‘Miss Brown’.

Ellen hosted her first official function as Acting Mayoress on the afternoon of Tuesday 30 April 1895, when ‘between 800 and 900 people’ attended a civic reception at the Town Hall. The Evening Journal reported it was ‘one of the most successful functions of the kind held in the city’.

Later that year Ellen visited the Industrial and Reformatory Schools at Magill for her first official Christmas visit.

The Mayor’s Ball in September 1896 was described as ‘a brilliant success’. Ellen and ‘Miss Brown’ designed the decorations, ‘his Worship giving them carte blanche as regards expenses’.

Personal Note

Ellen clearly took her role seriously and performed admirably. When at the end of his term of Mayoral office, Charles was presented with a portrait of himself in oils, ‘in recognition of the valuable service rendered to the citizens of Adelaide’, Ellen was presented with ‘a souvenir of the esteem in which she is held by all sections of the community’. Unfortunately, just exactly what this souvenir was remains a mystery.

Ellen died in 1923.

By Cheryl Williss, HerStory Project

The HerStory project came about to recognise and celebrate the lives and the achievements of Women’s work in South Australia and was initiated in 2015 on the 175th anniversary of the City of Adelaide, by Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide. The stories collected offer a unique perspective of Adelaide and South Australia that form a different history to what is often heard. This community built initiative is supported by the City of Adelaide and the History Trust of South Australia.

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