Charles Brown Fisher

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Charles Brown Fisher

Birthplace: London, UK
Death: May 06, 1908 (89)
Glenelg, SA, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir James Hurtle Fisher and Elizabeth Ann Fisher
Husband of Agnes Louisa
Partner of Charlotte Gibbens
Father of Charles Fisher
Brother of Elizabeth (Bessey) Morphett (Fisher); James Fisher; Frances Lucy James; George William Taylor Fisher; Marianne Fisher and 3 others

Occupation: Pastoralist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Charles Brown Fisher

Charles Brown Fisher

Mr. Charles Brown Fisher's career has been detailed at such length in the daily and weekly press that no long article is needed in our pages. He was ninety-one years of age at the time of his death at Glenelg, near Adelaide, on 5th May, and was born in London in 1817, the second son of Sir James Hurtle Fisher. With his brother James he squatted on the Little Para in 1838, then farmed at Lockleys and the Reedbeds near Adelaide, supplying sheep and cattle to the Adelaide market. In 1854 he purchased Bundaleer, and in 1855 Hill River, and afterwards other places in South Australia, some ten or twelve passing through his hands, including Wirrabara, Mount Schanck, Moorak, and Port Crawler. In 1865 he went to Melbourne, and the ownership of some fine properties attests to his continued belief in and liking for pastoral affairs. Among other properties might be mentioned Yanga and Ned's Corner, in New South Wales, and in Queensland the Darling Downs properties Thurulgoona (now owned by the Squatting Investment Company), the group now owned by the Australian Pastoral Company in the south, Fort Constantino and Warrnambool Downs in the north, and many smaller properties, as well as places in the Western District of Victoria, and Victoria Downs and other large areas in the Northern Territory, to which he sent up 30,000 cattle in the early eighties. In the early nineties he fell on evil times, in company with so many other pastoralists, but his latter years were spent in comfort if not in riches, and he remained to the end a typical colonist, genial, kindly, large hearted, courageous, and full of hope. As a breeder his name is identified with a type of Merinos which aimed at the maximum price per sheep, and he also imported many Lincoln sheep and draught horses and Shorthorn cattle, besides the racehorses which made the name of Maribyrnong a household word. At Hill River he embarked in extensive farming operations.

June 15 1908 "The Pasturalists Review"

Charles Brown Fisher, who died in Adelaide this week, was at one time not only the leading sportsman, but also the leading pastoralist, of Australia. A son of Sir James Hurtle Fisher, one of the pioneers of South Australia, Mr. Fisher spent his early days in that state, and one of tire first incidents in his career was taking part in the capture of some cattle stealers in the "Black Forest," situated about three miles out of Adelaide, on the Bay-road. This, I think, was in the forties, or it may have been in the early fifties; but, as Mr. Fisher was 91 years of age when he died on Wednesday, it is more likely to have been the forties. As matter of fact, Mr. Fisher rode in a race at Thebarton in 1838. Mr. Fisher belonged to a long-lived family. In 1905 I came back in the same train with him from Adelaide.

He had been over to bury his sister, Lady Morphett, who reached 90 years. At Murray-bridge I noticed he read the bill of fare without glasses, and it was only a kerosene light. He explained that he had been used to looking at things at a distance all his life, hence the preservation of his sight.

Mr. Fisher was a splendid horseman. In his riding days steeplechases were point-to-point affairs. The courses were extremely formidable, and the pace slow. A horse that could get the course without a mistake was pretty sure to win; but Mr, Fisher had a horse named "Highflyer" who .was quite a champion, until he became too near sighted to be certain at his jumps. There were very few professional riders in those days. It was welter weights, and often heats. The "classic" races in South Australia were started in 1855, but Mr. C. B. Fisher does not appear as a winner until 1860, when he won both Derby and St. Leger with "Midnight", the rider being W. Simpson, the acknowledged Fordham or Archer of Australia in the sixties. Mr. Fisher had strong opponents on the turf in South Australia in Mr. John Baker and Mr, Joseph Gilbert, but he more than held his own. Then, although retaining his magnificent properties in South Australia, Mr. Fisher came to Melbourne, and soon after the importation of "Fisherman" and some splendid mares by his brother, Hurtle, he started a racing establishment at Maribyrnong, with his friend William Filgate in charge. The brothers, Charles and Hurtle, never seem to have been actually partners in racing. When one retired temporarily the other would take up the sport.

When Mr. Hurtle Fisher held his first sale "C.B." was the principal buyer, and be gave 3,600 guineas for the two-year-old "Fishhook", whose battles with "The Barb" (the Sydney champion) caused such intense excitement in 1866 and 1867. Both were great horses, and, according to a man still living who saw all then races, "The Barb" generally had the advantage in condition. Before the Champion Race—or the then equivalent for the Champion—there was very heavy betting between "The Barb" and "Fishhook." Shortly before the race "Fishhook" was seized with a mysterious illness. It was always believed that he was poisoned. "Nobbling" is hardly known now, but John Porter insists to this day that Orme was got at, and William Filgate assured me several times that "Fishhook" was poisoned. He told me that he and Mr. Fisher both knew—years after the event—who had done the deed and at whose instance the stable lad had done it. Both had been pledged to secrecy by the dying man who made the confession. After the knock out of "Fishhook" Mr. C. B. Fisher dropped out for a time.

Readers of "The Australasian" know all about the St. Albans lottery. The idea was not new. Wishing to get out of Maribyrnong at one time Mr. Fisher disposed of the stud in this way. Speaking from memory, the prospectus was 20,000 Shares at £1. There were 5,000 shares not applied for. These Mr. Fisher took, and he was luckier in drawing good prizes with them than was Mr. W. It. Wilson under similar circumstances. The only valuable horse Mr. Wilson got was "Bill of Portland". After Mr. G. W. Pettv had had a short and profitable reign at Maribyrnong Mr. Fisher came in again, but by 1877 he was again tired of breeding, and there was a great clearing sale—one of the most important sales ever held in Australia—just after Chester had won the Derby and Cup double. Mr. E. De Mestre who was training "Robinson Crusoe" for Mr, Fisher at the time, was a large buyer, and it was thought be was acting for Mr. Fisher but this was not so. Mr De Mestre bought for himself, and the owner of "Archer" lived to learn that running a big breeding establishment was not hie forte. "Navigator" made a great start for "Robinson Crusoe", but it was not long before most of the Maribyrnong purchases were on the market again. It used to be thought that Mr. Fisher owned "Lapidist", and other horses raced by Mr. Filgate, but I believe this was a mistake. He trained for a time with W. Lang, who had "The Painter", and Mr. Filgate had "Canterbury" and Improver for him, but "Robinson Crusoe" was, I think, the last good horse he owned.

When the City of Melbourne was caught in the storm in 1876, several of the valuable horses killed or drowned belonged to Mr. Fisher. Probably he owned "Robin Hood", the "Sylvia" colt who won the Derby and was killed in this storm. For a time he went in for steeple chasing, one of his horses being "Prodigious". Mr, Fisher's financial failure was a vast one. He owned several of the very best properties in South Australia, and much against the advice of the late Mr. J. H. Angas and other friends, he, about 1875, sold them. One property was the far famed Hill River Estate, near Clare. Under his general manager, Mr. E. W. Pitts, this place had been turned into a wheat-growing property, and it took three days to sell the horses, implements, &c. when trying to persuade Mr. Fisher not to sell, Mr. Angas assured him he would buy Hill River, if it were sold, and he kept his word. Mr. Fisher knew the value of his South Australian properties, was ambitious. The place was not big enough for him. He aspired to be the largest pastoralist in Australia, and he put all bis money into country up Northern Territory way. Again he .failed he owed one bank something like three-quarters of a million. A good deal of that, however, has come back through the bank retaining some stations which have turned out well. Mr. Pitts, who managed for Mr. Fisher in South Australia, was a prophet. He was a bachelor, and when he died he left the Levels, a nice little property, to his employer, and tied it up so that the income should always be available in case of need; Mr, Pitts felt that Mr. Fisher would want the money home day, and he was a true prophet.

For many years Mr. Fisher was chairman of the VRC., but after he resigned in 1895, he never went near Flemington. About two years ago he went to Adelaide, intending to end his days at the Levels, but, I believe, his relatives persuaded him to come and live with them at the house of his brother-in-law, the late Sir John Morphett. Mr. James Fisher, a brother of "C. B." and "Hurtle," is living in England. He is about 94. Mr. C. B. Fisher was at Eton and Cambridge, and I think he was admitted as a barrister.

by Terlinga (Australasian (Melbourne, VIC) - May 9 1908)

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Charles Brown Fisher's Timeline

September 25, 1818
London, UK
May 6, 1908
Age 89
Glenelg, SA, Australia