12th Regiment Uniform

Arrival of the 12th Regiment Detachment
[Inquirer 13 Feb 1856]
Denis Brennan’s First Muster in WA
Brennan’s District Court Martial

Brennan Family Headstone, East Perth Cemetery
Denis Brennan’s Will 1884
NAME Denis BRENNANName variations: Dennis
Birth Date and Placec.1825 Ireland [deduced – not verified].
Baptism Date and Place
Marriage Date and Place20 Nov 1856 Perth, Western Australia [WABMD Reg.#1002].
SpouseCatherine KENSLEY.
ChildrenMargarita b.1857 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
James b.1859 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
William b.1861 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
Mary Ann b.1863 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
John Edward b.1865 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
Denis b.1867 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
George b.1869 Perth, Western Australia [FSLDS 1363647].
OccupationsPoliceman 1860, Champion Bay [BENT p.151].
Corporal 1861, Metropolitan Rifle Volunteer Corps (see Additional Notes).
Storekeeper 1864, Corner Pier & Goderich Street, Perth [Advt 1864].
Grocer and Draper 1866; Importer 1873 Murray Street, Perth [ERIC p.300].
Employed 17 Ticket of Leave Men 1870-1879 inc. woodcutters, limeburners, teamsters
[ERIC p.300].
Land Acquisition in WAPerth Town Lots W17 and W18 purchased on 5 Oct 1864 for £6 each.
[Perth Gazette 7 Oct 1864].
Death Date and Place22 June 1884 Perth, Western Australia [WABMD Reg.#12644].
Cause of Death: Paralysis.
Burial Date and PlaceJune 1884 Roman Catholic Section, East Perth Cemetery, Western Australia [EPCEM].
Death, Funeral, Obituary NoticesDaily News 23 Jun 1884.
Will and ProbateWill: 7 Nov 1882. Probate: 24 Oct 1884. Supreme Court of Western Australia
Regiment12th (East Suffolk) Regiment.
Soldier No. and Rank#2553 Corporal.
Enlistment Date and PlacePrior to 1851 [WO12-2966].
Promotions/ReductionsCorporal to Sergeant 1 Jul 1857 [WO12-2975-67].
Sergeant to Private 6 May 1859 [WO12-2979-3]. See Court Martial below.
Medals, Clasps and BadgesGood Conduct Badge 1d. per diem 15 Sep 1854 [WO12-2971-66].
GC pay inadmissable [after promotion to Sergeant] per Circ. 213 16 Feb 1858.
Arrival Australia State: Ship and DateEmpress Eugenie dep. 30 Jul 1854 Cork, Ireland; arr. 3 Nov 1854 Melbourne, Victoria [TROVE].
Disembarked 6 Nov 1854 [WO12-2971-116].
Arrival Western Australia: Ship and DateWindsor 7 Feb 1856 from Hobart, Tasmania. Disembarked 10 Feb 1856 [WO12-2972-448].
Military Postings within Western AustraliaThe Musters and Pay Lists of the 12th Regiment (WO12 series) do not indicate if and where its troops were posted outside of Perth. Similarly the Monthly Returns showing Distribution of Troops (WO17 series) do not indicate the number of troops present at Military Posts for the period 1856 to 1863.
Courts Martial in Western AustraliaConfined: 23 Apr 1859. Tried: 5 May1859. Charge: Failing to report privates.
Sentence: Reduced to Private [WO86-10-289].
Discharge Date and Place31 Aug 1860 [WO12-2981-26].
Age at Discharge35 years [deduced – not verified].
Length of Service12 years [deduced – not verified].


From an online record of the 12th Regiment’s whereabouts in the first three months of 1851, we know that Corporal Denis Brennan was based in Chatham, Kent, England [WO12-2966]. Unfortunately records for the the regiment’s involvement in Australasia did not start until April 1854, by which time one Company of the 1st Battalion had sailed from Cork arriving in Van Dieman’s Land on Gloucester in May. On 1 July 1854, Headquarters and three Companies embarked on the Camperdown arriving in Melbourne in October.  Then it was Denis Brennan’s turn to arrive from Cork with two more Companies in November on Empress Eugenie. The troops from Hobart arriving in Melbourne on Iron Tasmania in August,  joined the Companies arriving in Melbourne in October and November; this put over 500 troops on the ground.

It has been suggested that he was posted to Ballarat during the Eureka Stockade, but the Musters show that he was posted in Melbourne throughout the ‘Eureka Disturbances’ at which many of his colleagues were engaged.

Brennan chose to discharge from the Army the year following his Court Martial and reduction in rank from Sergeant to Private.  The story behind his trial and sentence was that he failed to report two privates in his charge for being drunk and sitting down while on sentry duty.  He may well have felt somewhat aggrieved at his sentence (see sidebar for Court Martial Register).

Metropolitan Rifle Volunteers 1872 Mt Eliza

At a meeting on 11 September 1861 at the Freemasons Hotel, Perth it was proposed that a Metropolitan Volunteer Rifle Corps be formed, whereupon a deputation sought and obtained permission of the Governor the following morning.  On 13 September Lieutenant-Colonel John Bruce, the Commandant of Forces in Western Australia (1854-1870), was requested to take command of the new company. Bruce agreed to take command until a suitable officer could be appointed.  The first drill parade was held on Barrack Square at 6 a.m. on 14 September with Captain J D Downing, 12th Regiment of Foot overviewing the proceedings.  Denis Brennan was on the first nominal roll of the Corps and remained a supporter until the unit disbanded in February 1872. At the height of its activities the strength of the Corps was four officers and 116 other ranks (1866).  As a result of a general desire to re-form the company a meeting was convened in the Town Hall on 16 June 1872 and many former members of the disbanded unit attended. Seventy-one men signed a petition seeking approval to form a new corps, Denis Brennan among them.  In 1884, the year of his death, his son Denis joined this Corps and was still serving in 1891.