In 1848 three Brearley brothers, Joseph aged 25, Sharp aged 20 and William aged 37, were transported to Australia on the Anna Maria. All were sentenced for stealing. William, who was married with six children, may have returned to England at the end of his sentence. Joseph and Sharp were successful businessmen in the tannery business in Geelong. A younger brother, John, joined them in 1854.
On 25 March 1852 Sharp married Jane Hillard at St James Cathedral, Melbourne. Jane was an Irish famine orphan who travelled on the Diadem in 1850 and was engaged by George Hirston of Russell Street Melbourne for twelve months for £8. Her sister Margaret, who had gone to the workhouse, came to Australia and married Joseph. They went to live on an allotment in Marshalltown where the tannery was later to be built.
On 21 July 1869 Thomas Adcock, mayor of the Borough of South Barwon laid the foundation stone before 200 invited guests. The architect was RS Tuffs and the contractor Martin and Dowie. At the end of the formalities James McDonald, Henry Pearce, Will Watson, Fred Routly, Alf Varg and George Quarries gave an address on behalf of the 61 other workers.
On Sunday 9 July 1871 a tragic accident occurred when Joe Brearley junior and 17 year old cousin George Dean and two younger cousins went duck shooting at Breakwater. Dean was accidently shot in the leg when Joe shifted the loaded gun. By the time he arrived at hospital he had lost too much blood and later died. He was the second son of Joseph Dean. At almost the same time Eleanor Brearley, daughter of John Brearley broke her arm after falling off a see saw.
Sharp became a South Barwon Shire councillor serving from 1863 until 1868, from 1879 until 1881 and from 1887 until 1891 and was mayor of the shire from 1864 to 1866. In December 1876 the partnership of Joseph and Sharp in the Australian Tannery was dissolved. It was the largest tannery in the Southern Hemisphere. Sharp purchased "Englewood" at Inverleigh. In 1880 after a clearing sale at "Englewood" 1214 acres was advertised for lease. Later that year he proposed a tannery at Western Beach fronting Victoria Terrace.
In 1884 he left for Europe. In 1886 liquidators sold the Australian Tannery to George Brearley for £3,750. The following year the Corio Tannery was sold for £4,000 (cost £11,000). Sharp and Jane Brearley lived at Calder Park, Mount Duneed from 1887-1891. In 1888 he had a villa at Anglesea erected costing £1,000. A street in Anglesea was named after him.
Sharp and Jane had eleven children:
Annie — born 1853, married George Burnley Appleton on 26 May 1883, died 1942
Alfred Hillard — born 1855, died 19 June 1862, buried at the Geelong Eastern Cemetery
Geroge Ramsden Carver — born 1858, married Blanche Stoneman on 14 August 1880, died 1929 at Warrnambool
Robert Hillard — born 30 November 1860, married Mary Karen Peterson on 24 March 1885 at St John's Church Bairnsdale, died 1 September 1950 at Subiaco, WA
John Albert — born 1862, died 21 March 1863, buried at Geelong Eastern Cemetery
Arthur Edward — 11 November 1863 at Connewarre, married Elizabeth Maria Tuffs on 22 November 1890, died 25 December 1900 at "Inglenook", 3 Hope Street, Geelong West
Walter Sharp — born 29 July 1865, married Carol Waycott in 1896, died 1940
Alice Jane — born 1867 at Marshalltown, married Arthur Robert Consterdine on 23 July 1891
Adelaide Mabel — born 11 July 1868, died 29 July 1868 at Geelong, buried at Geelong Eastern Cemetery
Herbert Ernest — born 1869, died 1959
Blanche Victoria — born 8 September 1872, died 25 October 1956 at Windsor, Victoria
Sharp who died on 26 April 1905 at the age of 78 years at 75 Swanston Street, Geelong was buried in the Church of England section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery. Jane who died on 15 November 1913 at the age of 80 years at Mordialloc was buried with him.
Grave of Sharp Brearley.
Buried with him are:
Jane Brearley, his wife — died 15 November 1913
Alfred Hillard Brearley, their son — died 19 June 1862
John Albert Brearley, their son — died 31 March 1863
Adelaide Mabel Brearley, their daughter — died 29 July 1868
Monument by Nathaniel Brown
Joseph Henry "Harry" — born 1853, married Mary Elizabeth Gillot on 20 September 1881, died 29 June 1918 at 5 Crimea Street, St Kilda aged 65
Hannah — married Johann Christian Richard Ohiff on 30 May 1881
Rebecca Elizabeth — born 1857, married William James Joseph Gallagher in 1883
Josephine Louisa — born 1859, married Robert Imray on 1 May 1882
Annie Maria — married Conrad Kollmann on 22 December 1889
Victoria — born 1862, married Ernest Castles on 19 May 1885
Robert George Hillard — born 30 June 1864
Margaret "Maggie"— born 1866 at Hawthorn, died 18 November 1901
John Frederick William — born 1868 at Kew
Edna — married Alan Roberts
Alfred — born 1871, died 29 July 1972 at Clifton House, Studley Park, Kew
Joseph was prominent in local sporting organisations and was elected a member of the Geelong Town Council, serving from 1864 until 1966. During the 1880s he left Geelong and moved with his family to Melbourne where he went into the leather business.
Margaret had a severe stroke on 6 June 1885 and died at her residence in Waltham Street, Richmond the next day, aged 53. She was buried in the Church of England section of the Boroondara Cemetery. Joseph died on 24 May 1911 at Balaclava, his daughter Rebecca Gallagher's home, aged 88. He was buried with his late wife.