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Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Capt 31 Aug 1894 - 20y1m 27 Jan 1915 1 May 1920 5

Captain Moreton Burrell 1894 - 1990                        

Burrell Brothers booklet

Moreton Burrell, second son of William Robert and Edith Burrell was born at Townsville on 31 August 1894.  He attended Brisbane Grammar School in 1909 and 1910 and was a member of the 1st Cricket Team.  On 1 December 1910 he joined the service of the Bank of New South Wales and while there joined the Moreton Regiment, CMF in which he held a commission.

Robert and Edith Burrell and family

Ross and Moreton Burrell were the only sons of William Robert and Edith Jane Burrell née Armstrong.  The names of Ross Burrell and Moreton Burrell are on the Wharf Street Congregational Church Honour Board.  This is simply explained because their parents were members of that congregation, having first met each other at the Wharf Street church in the 1880s, but it is also interesting to note that Mrs Edith Burrell’s grandfather was the Rev. William Pascoe Crook (1775–1846), missionary, schoolmaster and the first Congregational minister to settle in Australia.

William Pascoe Crook was the son of Count Croah, a French nobleman who with his family escaped to England during the French Revolution and started life again at Dartmouth in Devonshire, their name being anglicised into “Crook”.   W. P. Crook was born in Dartmouth, England and died in Melbourne (then in New South Wales) in 1846.

During his lifetime he served with dedication and outstanding ability, often in pioneering ventures, in many places, beginning as a missionary at Santa Christina in the Marquesas.  He married Hannah Dare (1779–1837) in England and travelled as chaplain on the ship Ocean in the expedition to establish a British Settlement at Port Phillip, New South Wales.

During this colonising project W. P. Crook worked tirelessly amongst the settlers as preacher and teacher of their children but the settlement was later abandoned and the whole equipment moved to Port Dalrymple.  The Crook family journeyed to Sydney where W. P. Crook was associated with the Rev. Samuel Marsden (1765–1838), chaplain, magistrate, missionary, farmer, also prominent in the early establishment of the colony of New South Wales.

He established a school which became the first boarding school in Australia and became Marsden’s parish clerk and official pastor at several preaching places.  He returned to the islands where he laboured for nearly twenty years as pastor at a Tahitian church and returned to Sydney in 1830.  There he opened a school, became a prominent figure in several philanthropic causes and preached in Wesleyan and Congregational churches.  His wife died in Sydney in 1837 and when his own health failed in 1841 he went to Melbourne to live with his son and died there in 1846. William Pascoe Crook’s participation in the early days of colony and church in Australia is well documented in historical journals and accounts. It is mentioned here because his life and work also influenced his family including its later generations.

William Robert Burrell (known as Bob) and Edith Armstrong were married at the home of Edith’s brother in Leichhardt Street, Brisbane in 1887 by the Rev. J. Ewen, Presbyterian minister at Fortitude Valley at the time. The couple went immediately to live in Townsville because Mr W. R. Burrell, a clerk in the Brisbane office of the Custom Department had received a transfer to the Townsville office.  Their four children - Ross, Lydia, Eileen and Moreton - were born in Townsville.

They returned to Brisbane shortly after their youngest child Moreton was born and lived briefly at Stoneleigh Street Albion before settling for the rest of their married lives at Denelbie, Byrne Estate, Bowen Bridge Road, Windsor1.  Lydia died in Brisbane at the age of 23 years as the result of a congenital heart condition.  Eileen married Lieutenant Maurice Christopher Wood in Brisbane in 1916.  

Enlistment and service

When the war broke out he volunteered for active service and enlisted on 26 January 1915. He embarked from Brisbane per HMAT Ascanius in June 1915 as Officer-in-Charge of the Machine Gun Section of the 26th Battalion, 2nd Division.  Before leaving for Gallipoli in September 1915 he was promoted to First Lieutenant.  

War service Gallipoli

Lieutenant Moreton Burrell served with credit through the latter part of the campaign on the Peninsula until the evacuation.  In connection with the latter operation, he was detailed to select sixteen volunteers to remain behind with him during the withdrawal of his brigade. Their duty was to keep up a continuous machine gun fire until the last man had embarked.  This operation was successfully accomplished but the task of withdrawing his own small section was by no means easy, all the ammunition had been expended and each man having to be lowered one by one down the face of a cliff four hundred feet high. This difficult task was carried through without a casualty.

Later, he saw service in Egypt and went with his Division to France in 1916.  He suffered gunshot wounds to the thigh on 30 May 1916 and was admitted to Bathurst House for treatment and convalescence in England.

Post war

On 7 August 1916, Moreton Burrell married Constance Turner at Aberdeen, Scotland.

He was appointed Adjutant of the Command Depot at Westham, Weymouth and held this position till his return to France in April 1917. He was then promoted to second-in-command of the 7th Machine Gun Company and received his captaincy in June 1917.  A few months later he had command of the 7th Machine Gun Company and held that post until the Armistice. For his work during the Somme Campaign of 1918 he was mentioned in despatches by Sir Douglas Haig.

Captain Burrell, accompanied by his wife and sister-in-law returned to Australia on board Themistocles on 6 January 1920.

Moreton Burrell served with the Bank of New South Wales as Bank Manager in branches in Sydney and Launceston. His wife Constance died suddenly on 27 April 1950, survived by her husband and their two daughters, Daphne and Mollie.  Moreton Burrell married Marion Flora Harrisson in Sydney later in the year 1950.  After retirement the couple lived at Rose Bay and later Bellevue Hill.  

Moreton Burrell died at Sydney on 4 February 1990, aged 95 years.

1. The address of the Burrell family residence “Denelbie” was earlier described as Earl Terrace or Earle Terrace, off Federation Road, Lutwyche or O’Connell Town, later Windsor. The location today is dominated by the airport link motorway and major connecting roads though Bowen Bridge Road, Federation Street and Byrne’s Paddock Park still exist.

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 and World War 2 military records
• First World War Embarkation Rolls
• Gunson, Niel, William Pascoe Crook, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Melbourne University Press, Volume 1, 1966
• Bardon, Richard, The Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in Queensland, 1849 – 1949, Smith & Paterson, Brisbane, 1949
Brisbane Courier, 21 Dec 1887; 15 Sept 1913; 28 Sept 1926, p 16; 29 Sept 1926, p 21; 30 Sept 1926, p 17; 2 Oct 1926, p 23; 4 Oct 1926, p 17; 7 Oct 1926, p 17.
Argus, 6 September 1926, page 7
The Sunday Mail, 15 Jan 1950
The Queenslander, 16 September, 1911, page 29
The Congregationalist, 1 March 1912
The Courier-Mail, 26 May 1936; 28 April 1951
The Telegraph, 29 Sept 1926, p 14; 4 Oct 1926, p 4; 7 Oct 1926, p 4
Daily Standard, 7 Oct 1926, p 2
The Week, 15 Oct 1926, p 28
Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Nov 1928, p 8; 19 Aug 1929; 10 Oct 1929; 13 May 1933, p 8; 28 Apr 1950; 25 Oct 1988; 10 Feb 1990
The Mercury, Hobart, 5 July 1938, p 1
• Ryerson Index on line
•, Electoral Rolls
Wharf Street Congregational Church Year Book, 1916, p 20
• Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Annual Report, 1916
• Archives, Brisbane Grammar School, The Golden Book
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
• New South Wales Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
• Bank of New South Wales Roll of Honour
• Australian War Memorial, Record G0000788, letter Capt. M Burrell to Brig. Gen. H.R. Goddard, 7 Dec 1918
• Brisbane City Council, Cemetery Records
• State Library of Queensland


Thanks are expressed for the considerable help, additional information and explanation given by Chris and Roger Burrell (grandsons of Ross Burrell) and Mrs Joyce Angus (Ross Burrell's daughter) enabling the revised publication in May 2018.

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane, May 2015 ©  Revised April/May 2018 ©



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