Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Henry Bunston

Born in 1822 at Taunton, Somerset, England, Henry was later christened in 1826 on July 2nd. He left England bound for Australia on board the “Bolivar” as an assisted passenger in 1842.

The South Petherton emigrants list has the following comments: “Petherton Parish sent off to Van Demons Land 9 or 10 young men incl Samuel Bunson's brother”. It also says Henry departed South Petherton on May 27th 1842.

According to shipping records, the “Bolivar” left London on June 10th 1842. It carried 214 emigrants and 17 passengers and was bound for Hobart Town. However, Henry disembarked at Launceston, Tasmania on October 5th 1842.

It is not known at this time what Henry did whilst in Tasmania, but three years later on September 19th 1845 he sailed from Launceston to Port Albert, Victoria on the “Alpha”.

The “Alpha” was a cutter that had a ferry type run between Melbourne and Launceston. On this particular journey it carried two passengers, surveying gear and supplies.

Between 1845 and 1847, Henry worked for Octavius Batten Sparks at Swan Reach. In 1848 he worked on the “Ridge” at Rosedale. In 1850 Henry headed west and went to work in the goldfields at Ballarat. He returned to the Gippsland area a couple of years later and on September 28th 1853 he bought some land at Tarraville.

It was around this time that Henry met Susan Hooper, a domestic servant who worked for George Jewell in South Geelong. Susan was the daughter of Sampson Hooper and Elizabeth Rousell. She was born in 1833 in Somerset. Susan came to Australia, when she was 19 years old, on board the “Time and Truth” which sailed from Plymouth on September 17th 1852 and arrived at Geelong in Victoria on January 5th 1853. She earned £20 p.a. and received rations. Her employment contract was for three months.

Susan moved to Sydney for work and Henry followed. They were married at St. James Church of England, Sydney on September 16th 1854.

The couple soon returned to Gippsland where Henry worked as a farmer on his property at Tarraville. It was here that their first of eight children, James, was born in 1858. Shortly after this the young family moved to Rosedale where Henry had bought some land on June 16th 1859. The rest of the children were born while they lived in this area. These children were Sarah (1860), Elizabeth (1862), Samuel (1863), John (1864), William (1866), Thomas (1868) and Ellen (1870). James, his sisters Sarah and Ellen, and brother Thomas were all christened with the surname Bunsen, although this may have been due to misspelling.

Henry sold this land to Henry Luke on July 3rd 1862. On March 10th 1869 he applied for 80 acres of land on Port Albert road. As well as being a farmer, Henry worked as a teamster. This meant he was often away from home for days, maybe even weeks at a time. The Rosedale Courier March 19th 1940 states Henry “was one of the best-known drivers in Gippsland, and his son followed in his footsteps”.

Having eight children in twelve years, two dying as babies within a year of each other, took its toll on a woman who often coped with the many pioneering hardships alone. Shortly after the birth of her youngest child, Ellen on September 12th 1870, Susan was committed to the Asylum/Hospital for the Insane at Yarra Bend. Records state her husband worked as a carrier in Rosedale.

Susan was transferred to the Kew Asylum on May 31st 1873. Here she and the other inmates were treated very badly, and this may be a reason why she was moved to the Beechworth Asylum/Hospital for the Insane/Mental/Psychiatric January 7th 1876. There was a police officer named James Hooper working in Beechworth at the time. It’s believed he may have been related to Susan, perhaps her brother James who was seven years older than her.

A newspaper article written about an investigation involving the Kew Asylum mentions Susan Bunston having a bruise on her head.

In 1877 Henry bought land in Brighton, near his brother William. He worked as a gardener and carter, but later returned to Rosedale where he lived quietly until his death on June 5th 1904 at the age of 82.

Susan’s husband didn’t appear to visit her in hospital. He did however pay her hospital fees until his death in 1904. Susan died in 1905 on July 18th in Beechworth after suffering from many years of ill health. She is buried there in an unmarked grave.

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