Aspects of Buildings & Monuments: Branxton, Crookham, Etal, Ford

Co-authored with Antony Chessell

Foreword by Rt. Hon. Lord Joicey

TillVAS, 2019

ISBN 978-0-244-75069-5


This illustrated book aims to draw attention to the many interesting building features and monuments present in and around the four villages and surrounding farms and hamlets in north Northumberland. It is a 'potterer's guide' to local building styles and techniques that have determined the character of the villages, the countryside and the lives of the people in the area.


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The Life and Times of Alexander Thomson: Surgeon, Settler and Founder of Geelong


Foreword by Cr. Bruce Harwood, Mayor of the City of Greater Geelong


Hopping Mouse Press, 2019,

ISBN 978-0-244-71536-4


Dr Alexander Thomson, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1798, epitomises the energy and commitment of the many adventurous immigrants who made a new life for themselves in 19th century Australia. His life and work among his fellow settlers, colonial officials and the Aborigines, is recounted in a many-layered narrative set in the early settlement of Victoria and Tasmania. Thomson's pioneering spirit, his tenacity and determination led him to found Geelong and become its first mayor. He was also involved in the drive to establish the State of Victoria.


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Separate Lives: the story of Sir George and Lady Grey, Foreword by Edmund Bohan, Hopping Mouse Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1-326-11342-1
The life of Sir George Grey is important in the annals of 19th colonial history. But why has so little been written about his wife, Eliza? Why has she been cast into the shadows? This is the first biography to tell the story of George and Eliza together, two vital characters who came together with high hopes but whom scandalous notoriety forced apart during the reign of Queen Victoria. As a result, the political equilibrium of George's career was destroyed and Eliza became a victim of the 19th century's attitude towards women and marriage.


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What the reviews said

'... a good balance of easy readability with academic rigour ... all is conveyed in a style which engages the reader right from the first page.'

(Lisa Truttman, NZ Legacy, Vol. 27, No.1 (February 2015)


... this new study includes [George Grey's] wife Eliza and thus sheds new light on George's long and distinguished career. ... The book includes some interesting illustrations including cameos of George and Eliza and is well endowed with references, bibliography and index.

(Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, June 2015, p. 105)


... well written with historical information excellently researched from a large number of sources meticulously referenced ... a fascinating story. It gives an interesting insight into life and administration in the colonies, human nature and the influence of circumstance, personality and politics.

(Margaret Medcalf, History West, August 2015, pp. 6-7


... this book adds a new dimension to the personal life of [George] Grey ...The life of Eliza is examined more closely ... It is thoroughly recommended. 

(R K O'Connor, Q C, Newsletter, Friends of The Battye Library, November 2015, pp. 25-26

Richard Spencer: Napoleonic War Naval Hero and Australian Pioneer, University of Western Australia Press, 2005, ISBN 1.920694-40-4


Captain Sir Richard Spencer RN was a 19th century hero of Nelson's Navy, an adventurous and resourceful man of action.  This is the story of his early life in the Royal Navy where he was intrepid to the point of foolhardiness and a hero to his men.  Later in life he became the government resident in the settlement of Albany on the south coast of Western Australia. There he worked diligently to administer the turbulent pioneer community, was a man of probity towards the settlers and Aborigines alike and worked towards securing Albany's future as a settlement.


The research I undertook in the UK and Australia has allowed me to reveal his richly varied life in a sweeping narrative style.


What the reviews said


'... a fascinating story that will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the history of the Royal Navy or in the early history of Albany and Western Australia' (Monash University, Clayton, Australia, November 2005)


'... a welcome, scholarly and informative publication.' (Lyme Regis Society Newsletter, September 2005)


'Buy the book!' (The Nelson Yearbook 2005, Nelson Society of Australia)


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Alexander Collie: Colonial Surgeon, Naturalist and Explorer, University of Western Australia Press, 2008, ISBN 9780980296532


This is the story of a remarkable Scottish pioneer, born in 1793, who was educated at Aberdeen University, carried out further medical studies in Edinburgh, London and Paris and became a surgeon in the early 19th century Royal Navy.


He sailed to the Arctic in HMS Blossom in 1824 on an expedition to seek out the North-West Passage and to meet up with Captain John Franklin.  Then in 1829 he was surgeon on HMS Sulphur accompanying Captain James Stirling to the fledgling Swan River colony of Western Australia. He became colonial surgeon, carried out explorations with his Aboriginal guide and friend, Mokare and contributed to the botanical, geographical and meterological discoveries of the time.


Using the entertaining correspondence between him and his brother, George, backed up by extensive research, I have described Alexander's Aberdeenshire childhood, his academic study, the harsh conditions he endured both on his voyages and in the early Swan River colony and how he helped to bridge the cultural divide between the Aboriginal and European communities. 


What the reviews said


... a worthy memorial to Collie...' (History Scotland, Nov/Dec. 2009)


'A well researched history of a person who had an important role in the development of Western Australia.' (History, the Royal Australian Historical Society, March 2009)


'Alexander Collie ... a splendid example of those intrepid Scots who did so much of the heavy lifting in the British Empire.' (Good Reading Magazine [Australia], August 2008)


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