RODD, BRENT CLEMENTS (1809-1898), solicitor, was born on 10 December 1809 at Barnstaple, Devonshire, England, son of John Tremayne Rodd, hydraulic engineer, and his wife Bridget (Lucy), née Burnell. After the death of his wife, John with his three young sons reached Hobart Town in January 1822 in the Tiger and arrived in Sydney in April in the Castle Forbes. He was superintendent of convicts at Newcastle and became a successful pastoralist on the Hunter.
Brent was a store-keeper for Thomas Icely but by 1829 was articled to Edward Keith and was admitted a solicitor on 28 September 1833. In 1829 Rodd had applied for a land grant and claimed to own £500 in sterling, 12 horses and 60 head of cattle. In 1830 he bought land and town lots in Newcastle, Bathurst, Raymond Terrace, Clarence Town and various blocks on the Wollombi Creek. In 1838 he bought fifty acres (20 ha) of the Five Dock Estate, Sydney, from Samuel Lyons and built his house, Barnstaple Manor. On 8 May 1839 he married Sarah Jane, sister of (Sir) John Robertson. In 1842 he complained in vain to Governor Gipps that he had been troubled by shell-gathering trespassers on the mud flats surrounding his land at Rodd Point.
Successful in his profession, Rodd for a time specialized in debt collection and till the early 1860s was the senior partner in Rodd and Dawson. Thereafter he practised on his own at 132 Pitt Street. Among his clients were Edward Smith Hall and Henry Parkes. Parkes became a lifelong friend and in 1849 invited Rodd to form 'a political association' with Robert Lowe and others. In the early 1850s Rodd worked behind the scenes for Parkes and Rev. J. D. Lang. In 1824 when employed by Icely and Hindson, Rodd had accidentally discharged a pistol into Joseph Underwood's premises and, panicking, had thrown the pistol down a well. In June 1857 he explained his action to Lang, who had tried to use a distorted version of the affair to discredit Icely.
In 1851 Rodd had been on the management committee of the Australasian Botanical and Horticultural Society. He retired in the 1870s and added to his large and catholic library, managed his Barnstaple estate and exchanged photographs of the 'old hands'. W. M. Manning thought Rodd's portrait 'like a Hogarth or Rembrandt who from love of art has himself become a picture'. Rodd died at Barnstaple, Five Dock, of heart disease on 26 November 1898 and was buried according to Presbyterian rites in the family vault; his remains were later reinterred in Rookwood cemetery. Predeceased by his wife who died on 30 December 1896, three sons and two daughters, he was survived by five sons and two daughters. His estate was valued for probate at almost £58,000.
K. G. Allars, ‘The Five Dock farm’, JRAHS, 34 (1948); Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Nov 1898; Henry Parkes letters (State Library of New South Wales); manuscript catalogue under B. C. Rodd (State Library of New South Wales).
Author: K. G. Allars
Print Publication Details: K. G. Allars, 'Rodd, Brent Clements (1809 - 1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, p. 52.