A legal trip back in time care of the Land Titles Office…


I was cleaning out some boxes yesterday and stumbled across some old certificates of title for my previous house at 383 Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill. It got me thinking, while our online world certainly makes things quicker and more accessible these days, we certainly have lost something when you look at this lovely certificate of title, written in a lovely longhand cursive style and so full of history too.

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These old titles office documents are very rich in history. From this one, we can see than one Thomas Woodcock obtained the title to the land on which my old house stands in 1874 from Patrick Scanlan. An earlier certificate of title shows that Patrick Scanlan, who sold the house to Thomas Woodcock, was one of Brisbane’s early property developers, being granted in the 1860s what we would now basically call “the suburb of Spring Hill“, which he then set about subdividing.

Some googling then finds that Thomas Woodcock was a tailor in Queen Street :





I founds this advertisement using Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/1365255 Trove from the National Library of Australia is a wonderful resource if you are doing historical research.

The Brisbane postal directory from 1874 also shows that Thomas Woodcock lived between William Street (now Kinross Street) and Park Street on Gregory Terrace in the days before house numbers :


The complete 1874 Postal Directory here (is your house there Brisbane residents?) :


So, what might have been a boring legal document, in fact is the starting point for an interesting and informative journey back in time. From something like this in 1874 (not the original house at 383 Gregory Terrace, but a likely similar 1860s/70s house still standing on Gregory Terrace) :


to the current house at 383 Gregory Terrace today (built in 1914) :


Happy historical hunting!

Malcolm McBratney



3 thoughts on “A legal trip back in time care of the Land Titles Office…

  1. The use of the old imperial land-measurement units is interesting. I remember from school-days that “something” was five and a half times “something”. It was the “rod, pole or perch” (all refer to the same unit) that is 5.5 “yards”. Here is a table of the old units:

    1 inch = 25.4 millimetres = 0.0254 metres
    1 link = 7.92 inches = 0.201168 metres
    1 foot = 12 inches = 0.3048 metres
    1 yard = 3 feet = 0.9144 metres
    1 rod, pole or perch = 5.5 yards = 5.0292 metres
    1 chain = 4 rods = 22 yards = 66 feet = 100 links = 20.1168 metres
    1 furlong = 10 chains = 220 yards = 201.168 metres
    1 mile = 8 furlongs = 80 chains = 1760 yards = 5280 feet = 1609.344 metres
    1 league = 3 miles = 4828.032 metres

    1 acre = 1 chain x 1 furlong = 10 square chains = 4840 square yards = 4046.8564224 square metres
    1 square mile = 6400 square chains = 640 acres = 2,589,988.110336 square metres
    1 hectare = 100 metres x 100 metres = 10,000 square metres = 2.47105381467165 acres.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Greg! I recall as a young lawyer trying to hunt down someone who knew such things when I was selling a business with land so old it had missed out on Torrens Title and therefore still described via a map in rods and chains!


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