The four eras of Lebrina Historic House

Researched, written by & with thanks to Kathy Duncombe

Situated in a prominent position at the corner of Cross Street and the Main Road (New Town Rd), New Town, Lebrina’s story is one of longevity.

Lebrina stands on part (1 acre, 1 rood, 26 perches) of the 157 acres granted to Captain Charles Swanston.

The first era of Lebrina – its building by Thomas White as his home for himself, his wife Sarah, and their 13 children, until his death in September 1885

1840 – Thomas White (Builder) & William White (his father) purchased 1acre – 1 rood – 26 perches from Charles Swanston on 11th May 1840.

1844 – There is an Indenture endorsed on 25th September 1844 and made between Charles Swanston of Hobart Town in Van Diemen’s Land Esquire of the first part, the said Thomas White of the second part and William White (father of Thomas) of the third part, transferring the land for the sum of £242… The now memorialising indenture is a surrender of the said William White of the land and hereditaments herein after described to the use of the said Thomas White his heirs and assigns forever. In the description thereof it appears to be alongside two allotments of land sold by the said Charles Swanston to Haynes and Francis Smither Edgar together with the cottage or dwelling house hereon erected and the appurtenances thereto belonging.

1845 – The house, ‘Lebrina,’ was built by Thomas White, circa 1845, as his own dwelling, in which he lived, with his wife Sarah, (nee Coaton), and their 13 children, until his death on the 22nd September 1885, aged 79 years. Thomas was born about 1806 in Norfolk, England, the son of William White. He married Sarah Coaton 15th July 1827 in Saint Mary Abchurch, London England. Sarah was born 15th November 1807 London, England the daughter of Marmaduke Coaton and Ann Laxton. Sarah died 30th July 1884 at New Town.

Thomas and Sarah had thirteen children. Their first two children were born in England. In July 1832 they departed London to emigrate to Tasmania, arriving 12th November 1832, where the rest of their family were born.
The children of Thomas & Sarah White:

End of the first era of Lebrina – Thomas Whites’ death & his Will

Thomas White’s will dated 23rd March 1852 appoints George Smith Seabrook (Builder) and Thomas Augustus Reynolds (Builder) and Frederick Robert Seager as Executors & Trustees.

He devised unto and to the use of Henry William Seabrook and John Gittus Winter and their heirs all those messuages dwelling houses land tenements and hereditaments belonging to him, situated at or near New Town, and all other lands hereditaments and real estate whatsoever and wheresoever which he might die sized possessed of or entitled to Upon trust to permit his wife Sarah white to occupy the same and receive the rents and profits thereof during her life for her separate use and after her decease Upon trust that the so mentioned… should deem expedient sell and dispose of the same either all together or in parcels and either by public auction or private contract… That the said Thomas White made a Codicil dated 8th October 1877 – changing the executors mentioned above Henry William Seabrook and John Gittus Winter to the others mentioned above appoints George Smith Seabrook (Builder) and Thomas Augustus Reynolds (Builder) and Frederick Robert Seager as Executors & Trustees. He made a 2nd Codicil dated 8th January 1881… revoking the mention of his wife Sarah who had departed this life 30th July 1884… the property being then put to auction and the said Frederick Robert Seager being the highest bidder at £752.

The Second era of Lebrina – purchase in 1885 (following the death of his friend Thomas White) & ownership by Frederick Robert Seager, (until 1913 and then his heirs until 1961) FR Seager was the Superintendent of the New Town Charitable Institution (at St John’s Park)

Frederick Robert Seager was born c1848 Port Louis, Mauritius. (UK Reg: Registration Place: Milton, Kent, England); British subject born in Mauritius – Father Charles Seager, Sergeant in the Army

Frederick’s father, Charles Seager [1817-1886], married Jane Kerwan [1825-1882] in Mauritius about 1844 and they had six children:

  1. Philip Samuel Seager 1845-1923
  2. Frederick Robert Seager 1848-1913
  3. Henry George Seager 1850-1911 – 1851 Census they were still in Kent, England
  4. Louisa Mary Seager 1852-1868
  5. Alfred George Seager 1855 – 1919
  6. Edgar Charles Seager 1857-1858

Charles died 2 February 1886 in Hobart and Jane died 1882 in Hobart.

Frederick married Rosa Ann Gertrude Smyth, 15th July 1874, in St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania. Rosa was born 20th July 1853 to Francis John Smyth and Ann Sales; she died 6th December 1908 at New Town. Frederick became Superintendent of the New Town Charitable Institution at St John’s Park. His son Charles Frederick also worked at the this field.

Frederick and Rosa Seager had nine children together:

  1. Annie Louisa Seager 1875
  2. Charles Frederick Seager 1876-1958
  3. Arthur Ernest Seager 1878-1968
  4. Florence Louise Seager 1879-1917
  5. Frances May Seager 1881-1933
  6. Fred Seager 1882-
  7. Nellie Rosalind Seager 1883
  8. Jean Seager 1884-1964
  9. Myra Kate Seager 1884-1964

After Rosa died, Frederick married Rosa’s sister, Ada Violet Smyth, on 8th December 1909 in Hobart. Ada was born 7th March 1873; Ada was only 32 and Seager was 63, when they married. Four years later, on the 5th May 1913, aged 67, Seager died, at Lebrina, New Town, leaving Ada a widow at only 36. He left Lebrina to his wife Ada Violet Seager and entrusted Alfred Charles Seager (civil servant), brother of the deceased, and Charles Frederick Seager, son of the deceased, to make an inventory of all his goods and chattels etc. Ada continued living at Lebrina until she died 5th September 1959 .

The third of the Smyth sisters, Eleanor (aka Nellie) had married James White (10th child and 7th son of Thomas White, Lebrina’s builder); she and James later moved into Lebrina with Ada and her mother Ann Smyth; once again, James White came to live in his childhood home, Lebrina.

James White died 6th September 1911, but Lebrina continued as the family home for Frederick (until his death on 03/05/1913) and Ada Seager, Ada’s mother Ann Smyth (until her death on 18/081920 at 88 years of age) and Nellie White, James’ widow.

James and Nellie White’s children, Brightie Coaton White, Victor Sales White and Oscar Seabrook White also lived at Lebrina with their parents. Ada Seager (Frederick Seager’s widow) lived at Lebrina until at least 1959, another 46 years.

1958 – Charles Frederick Seager of St. Johns Park, New Town, (retired Director of Social Services), died 22nd April, and his son Charles Chapman Seager & cousin Philip Reginald Seager, undertook their duties as executors and trustees of his will. Charles, born 19th November 1906, was the son of Charles Frederick Seager & Florence Phyllis Chapman.

Beginning of the third era of Lebrina, following the death of Charles Frederick Seager in 1958 (son of Frederick Robert Seager) and the death of his stepmother and aunt Ada Violet Seager (widow of Frederick Robert Seager) in 1959

1961 Michael Baran purchased the property from Philip Reginald Seager & another on 30th November 1961 and owned Lebrina until 1967.

1967-1971 – Lajos & Anna Molnar purchased the property from Michael Baran on 14th April 1967

1971-1973 – Barry Allen purchased the property from Lajos Molnar (factory hand) & Anna Molnar (his wife) on 8th December 1971, for $13,000. On the same day, Anna paid off the mortgage on the property.

1973 – Emma May Howard (Ladies’ Hairdresser) purchased the property from Barry Allen Spinks of New Town (Technical Assistant) for £15,400. Emma May Howard was born 13th December 1902 at Zeehan, the daughter of William Howard and Annie Mary Deanshaw.

1938 – Emma May Howard also purchases 343 Elizabeth St. from Frederick George Wignall.

1978- 1980 – Emma May Howard leases 343 Elizabeth St. to Rodney & Frank Howard, however this would appear to be the site of the CWA shop which was previously owned by Emma Howard (aka Miss Howard).

Emma May Howard lived at 163 Elizabeth Street when she made her will and she appointed Murray Edward Docking (Solicitor) and her brother Frank Edward Howard (Merchant) as her trustees. She willed her property at 343 Elizabeth St. to her brother. She bequeathed 155 New Town Road to her trustees, upon trust to realise the same and to hold the proceeds of such realisation upon trust for: Frank Edward Howard (brother) Doris Elsie Howard (sister in law), Rodney Frank Howard (nephew), Janice Patricia Kobelnek (niece), Dorothy May Wheatley (niece), Lynette Marie Crouch (niece) and Kay Margaret Harvey Latham (niece) as tenants in common in equal shares.

Frank Edward Howard & Murray Docking as personal representatives of Emma May Howard had the property until it was sold 19th May 1982.

1982-1991 – David Worcester Clinch & Patricia Anne Clinch purchased the property on 19th May 1982 and sold it on the 8th January 1991

1991 – 1993 Dianne Margaret Hughes and Brett Anthony James purchased the property on 8th January 1991 and sold it shortly thereafter on 26th March 1993

Beginning of the fourth era of Lebrina – Lebrina Licensed Restaurant

1993 onwards – Lebrina was purchased in March 1993 by Minervini & Bryan, who became operators of Lebrina Restaurant, which traded from 10/12/1994 until 04/12/2020; they retain ownership of the house and reside there still.

Lebrina has always had ‘the air’ of a happy family home, its ‘patina’ partly derived from its long association with 2 families, the Whites and the Seagers, (interrelated by marriage and friendship ties and obviously ‘close’); they (and subsequent owners), also shared a deep love for Lebrina, their timeless and gracious home, for at least 114 years. Lebrina still stands proudly and in a perfect state of repair, on its New Town corner, both on the Tasmanian Heritage Register and with National Trust classification, witness to the slowly changing face of New Town, as one of the oldest houses in the original suburb of Australia’s second oldest city, Hobart Town, now Hobart.

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