LINWOOD – Dr. Joseph Brittan (1805 – 1867)

So, how long do you to take before you marry the sister of your dead wife? Not long enough when it concerned Dr. Joseph Brittan. The scandal that chased Joseph and his new bride Sophia (pictured) down the church aisle was bad enough to make emmigration to Canterbury look real good!!!

Dr. Joseph Brittan, the older brother of William Guise Brittan, was a surgeon. He married Mary Chandler and the pair went on to have 9 children. It was a fortnight after the birth of the 9th child that Mary passed away. The infant did not survive either. The year was 1849. In what was considered an illegal move, Joseph married back into the Chandler family.

The newly weds fled, sailing to Christchurch on the ‘William Hyde’, Joseph acting as ship’s doctor. As Joseph’s younger brother was already settled in Christchurch and just happened to be in charge of the land office, Joseph and Sophia didn’t have face the immigration barracks or tent life – they moved into a house already prepared by William in Hereford Street. They did have to climb the Bridle Path though and their goods were sailed down the Heathcote and Avon Rivers for them to collect later.

Sophia, I’m sure, took comfort in the fact that her sister Louisa was already in Christchurch too. She had to be, she was married to William Guise Brittan!!!

They eventually settled on 110 hectares in Avonside, calling the homestead and farm ‘Linwood’ after where the Brittans grew up. The name Linwood means ‘Beautiful Woods’.

Joseph was a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council and the Executive Council. He also served as Provincial Secretary.  His daughter, Mary went on to marry William Rolleston, Canterbury’s fourth Superintendent.

Joseph died in 1867 and is buried at the Holy Trinity Church of Avonside. Beside him is his son Arthur who tragically drowned in the Avon on New Year’s Day just 5 years earlier. He was only 18 years old.  A few rows away lie William and Mary Rolleston.

Unfortunately, Linwood House did not survive the February 2011 earthquake. It has since been demolished.

The family are remembered today in the naming of Brittan Street, Louisa Chandler Lane, William Guise Brittan Historical Gardens & of course, the suburb of Linwood.

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