John Spencer Brunton

John Spencer Brunton, as featured in the 1909 7th Congress of Chamber of Commerce of the British Empire

John Spencer Brunton (1861-1937) was a prominent flour miller and racehorse owner.  In 1886, Brunton built “Brunyarra”, cnr The Boulevarde and Carrrington Avenue Strathfield.  He lived in Strathfield until c.1908. 

Bruton was the son of Thomas Brunton MLC (1831-1908), who founded Australian Flour Mills in Victoria in 1868.  Brunton was educated at Scotch College Melbourne and upon leaving, he entered the flourmilling business which was founded in 1868 by his father. In 1881, a branch of the business was established in the Sydney suburb of Granville. The company’s business rapidly grew and the brands of its products became as well known in London and in the East as they were in Sydney and Melbourne.  Brunton became a senior partner of the company. He was a member of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce for a long period and held the position of president in 1898-1899.

Brunton took a keen interest in local government and municipal reform, especially traffic and town planning.  As President of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, he was instrumental in establishing the Municipal Reform Association, which ran and elected a number of Aldermen to the City Council.  In 1914, following the resignation of Alderman A Cocks MLA, Brunton stood as a candidate in the by-election for the Lang Ward of Sydney City Council.  He was elected and served from 1914 to 1917. 

Brunton married twice.  His first wife died in 1890 and he remarried in 1898 to Eleanor Thorne.  Mrs Brunton was known in charitable circles and was the first honorary treasurer of the New South Wales division of the Red Cross Society and a life-governor of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Camperdown.   Brunton’s son John married the Jocelyn, daughter of architect Howard Joseland in 1923.

Brunton was an influential member of local Strathfield community.  He was a member of the prestigious and influential Strathfield Recreation Club and served as President in 1896.  Brunton also lent support to the early boulevarding and street planting programs in Strathfield Municipality, where street planting costs were shared between Strathfield Council and residents. Brunton personally posted reward for the capture of the person(s) responsible for stealing the newly planted street trees on The Boulevarde.

Brunton Mills at Granville in 1909

Brunton was also widely known as an owner of racing horses. He began to race his own horses in the early part of the 1900s and rarely missed a race meeting.  His best known horses were “Jocelyn” whose wins included the Metropolitan, a race also won by her dam, “Maltine”; “Homer”, who dead-heated with Allunga in the Derby, “Carry On” who won the Australian Cup.

Brunton retired from the New South Wales Lancer Regiment with the rank of Major after serving for about 16 years.  He attained the position of Brigade-Major of the First Brigade of the Australian Light Horse. 

Brunton was a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, the Prince Alfred Yacht Club, the Royal Automobile Club, the Royal Sydney Golf Club and other bodies.

In 1908, Brunton sold ‘Brunyarra’ and moved to the Eastern Suburbs.  He was later the owner of “Gladswood House”, Edgecliff, a baronial style mansion which is heritage listed item.  He left an estate valued for £56,715 and directed that his executors should erect a fountain at the mill of Brunton and Company Ltd. and place on it an urn containing his ashes with the inscription   “The mill will never grind, with water that has passed.”



J. Ann Hone, ‘Brunton, Thomas (1831 – 1908)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, p. 280.

Jones, C  ‘Brunyarra’,  Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter

‘New City Council Alderman’, Town & Country Journal, 4 February 1914, p28

Obituary Mr J S Brunton,  Sydney Morning Herald, December 13 1937, p10.

Obituary Mrs J S Brunton,  Sydney Morning Herald, February 2 1936, p10.

Perdon, R (1997), Sydney’s Aldermen: A biographical register of Sydney City Aldermen 1842-1992, Sydney City Council

Seventh Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, W E Smith Limited, Sydney, 1909


Author:  Cathy Jones (2010)

(c) Cathy Jones 2010.  If you wish to copy or reproduce any part of this article, please seek permission from


  1. I recently found what appears to be a small “sliding” wooden door that might have been on a shipping crate. It has a blue crescent moon painted on the top with the following on the door:
    (Painted on the door) FLOUR
    2 X 25 Lb. TINS NET
    (Stenciled on the door) BRUNTON & CO.
    (Painted on the door) GROSS WEIGHT 52 Lbs.
    I found this while refinishing my grandmother’s antique sideboard. If you have any information, I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.
    Marilyn Smith
    North Richland Hills, Texas


    1. I don’t any more information but it sounds like this may be from Bruton flour mills in Sydney -unless, of course, there is a similarly named mill in Texas!



    1. Thomas Brunton, your great great grandfather, was the first patron of the Essendon Golf Club, now Northern Golf Club, Victoria.I would like any information on Thomas Brunton that might be available including a photograph.
      I am currently researching the history of Essendon GC and will appreciate any assistance. Thomas was a member of the Upper House of parliament.


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