1812 - 1875





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Henry William St Pierre Bunbury
Henry William St Pierre Bunbury



Son of Lt. General Sir Henry Bunbury, under-secretary of war and the colonies (1809-1816), Henry William went into military service and was commissioned as an ensign in the 43rd regiment at the age of 18.

In 1833 he was promoted to lieutenant and joined the 21st fusilier regiment with which he saw duty in New South Wales, Tasmania and finally in 1836 in Western Australia.

During his time in NSW, Henry lost his position as extra ADC for Governor Bourke after drawing a caricature of 'The Governor on tour' in Bunbury's illustrasted journal. The governor's valet apparently got hold of the journal and showed it to Bourke, who by all accounts was far from amused. Henry's grandfather had been a prominent cartoonist who lampooned the excesses of the conservative governments. Henry appears to have - at least partially - followed in his footsteps.

In Tasmania, Bunbury was stationed at Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula. He was not happy with that posting and volunteered to go to Western Australia.


During his brief time in W.A. he was stationed at York, Pinjarra and Busselton. He led an expedition to the Williams area and established an outpost there.

He made a return trip from Pinjarra to Busselton and recorded the trip in great detail in his journal. He noted the metallic sands found in the Busselton area that would later play a part in mining operations.

Although his stay in W.A. was very brief, Bunbury managed to impress Governor Stirling who named the town of Bunbury after him when it was first established.

Bunbury was not as complimentary about Stirling and once he had left the colony, made a number of verbal attacks on the Governor stating in one that, 'Sir James changing his land so often that the Surveyor General has told me that he did not know at all where it all was.' In another attack Bunbury said of Stirling: 'beware of trusting him, unless the agreement be made in writing and properly witnessed; he has a most unfortunate memory and forgets his promises.... ...and he changes his mind so constantly that not the slightest reliance can be placed on his word unless you get his handwriting and signature to produce in case of dispute.'

Henry left W.A. in November 1837 with something of a dark cloud hanging over him. There were accusations that he had been involved in a punitive raid on Aborigines levelled by Dr. Louis Giustiniani that were never tested. Considering Bunbury's small 'l' liberal politics and his documented attempts to head off possible trouble with Aboriginal people, it seems very unlikely that Giustiniani's accusations had any truth to them.

In 1849 Henry served in the North-West Frontier of India.

Henry went on to serve in South Africa as ADC for the governor of the Cape of Good Hope, General Sir George Napier. Napier also appears to have been commander-in-chief in India.

Bunbury married Napier's daughter, Cecilia, in November 1852. The couple were to have 3 sons and 1 daughter. One source quotes that Cecilia was Bunbury's cousin.

Bunbury also served in the Crimea before being promoted to the rank of colonel in 1862. He died in 1875.

The youngest of his 3 sons, (William) joined the Royal artillery and served in Australia where he established the School of gunnery at Middle Head in Sydney.

Henry Bunbury's letters and journals have been published by Hesperian Press in a book titled 'Lieutenant Bunbury's Australian Sojourn'.




1812 - Born September 2nd.

1830 - Commissioned as an ensign in the 43rd Regiment.

1833 - Promoted to lieutenant.

1833 - Transferred to the 21st Fusiliers and came to Australia.

1836 - Came to Western Australia in March.

1837 - Henry leaves W.A. in November.

1849 - Served in India.

1852 - Married Cecilia Napier in November 1852.

1862 - Promoted to colonel.

1875 - Died on September 18th.


Links to more information:


Bunbury, Henry William St Pierre (1812-1875)

Henry William St Pierre Bunbury b. 1812

Bunbury was named after a young man who was ahead of his time




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