James Bryan was born in Wicklow, Ireland in 1843. Bryan arrived in Sydney in 1865 and worked with John Eales (MLC 1880-94) as a carpenter on the Hunter before employment on railway contracts including Zig Zag railway. He was at the Weddin diggings (later known as Grenfell) for two years before becoming a builder at Macdonaldtown. He married Kate (Catherine) Higgins in 1871 and they had four sons and two daughters by 1888. He died at his home Devine Street, Erskineville on 21 December 1913 and was buried in the Roman Catholic section, Rookwood. His son William James Bryan became a noted rider and trainer of trotters.
Occupation & interests
James Bryan was a builder who built St Marys and St Josephs Schools. He owned a number of trotting horses including some of the best including the mare ‘Blanch’, who became a noted dam. Other horses he owned were Pastime, Lady Era, Van Era, and Miss Cleeve.
James Bryan was a member of William Gane Lodge, Independent Order of Oddfellows. He was presented with gold medal for services to Erskineville Council in 1911.
Local government service
James Bryan gathered the signatures for the petition requesting that the Municipality of Macdonaldtown be established in association with his cousin James Heighington. He was a member of first Council elected for Macdonaldtown in July 1872. He claimed to have been a significant factor in the municipality acquiring 11 acres for a park, the railway platform and the public school. James Bryan was an alderman on Macdonaldtown (Erskineville) Council in 1872-82 and 1885-88. He was mayor in 1882.
Aldine Centennial History of New South Wales, Sydney, 1888
NSW Government Gazette, 9 Jan 1872, pp 57-58, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/223085042
‘Personal’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Dec 1913 p 12, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/15482839
Sun, 23 Dec 1913, p 12, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/229359447