Sep 172013

William BusbyThis is the only photo I have of William Busby. The date is unknown but believed to be either in 1904 for the marriage of his son George Howard Busby or possibly in 1912 for the marriage of his daughter Kate Rosamund Busby as I also have one of his wife Ann with the same background.

We know he was born in Coombe Oxfordshire (also known as Long Combe) in 1851 and that he married Ann Howard in 1872 in Oxford. Their eldest child Ann was born May 1879 and died 13 months later.  

Their son William was born April 1881 and tragically died 22 Sept 1882 aboard the Mhari Bhan when the family emigrated to Brisbane. 

They had a further two children in Brisbane George Howard Busby  born 1884 and Kate Rosamund Busby in 1892.

William looks an elegant gentleman with a pretty decent beard and  moustache combination but you don’t get much of an idea about his personality.

This is where Trove and its fantastic range of digitised papers is invaluable.

I found that William had written a letter to the editor of the Brisbane Courier in 1884.

A transcript follows for easier reading:

Letter to Editor Nov 1884THE WOODEN PAVEMENTS.
SIR,-Having read a letter in your issue of Friday last signed “Forward,” on the subject   of wooden pavements, I was very much surprised at the dastardly way in which your correspondent attacked the workmen employed in putting down the same. I admit Birmingham is a noted place for wood-paved streets, and it is also a noted place for people who are ashamed of their own names. This, perhaps, accounts for the way in which “Forward” attacks the workmen and then signs himself ” Forward ” Why does he condemn the way the work is done without pointing out the faults? Any simpleton can say a piece of work  is a “miserable specimen” and stop there, without proving anything except his forwardness, I think that “Forward” in saying the Queen street crossings are a ” wretched exhibition of bad workmanship,” and omitting to define the faults, gave a wretched exhibition of his conceit in thus rushing into print to condemn work that has been well and faithfully done.
Trusting you will favour me by inserting this,
I am, sir, &,c ,      
Mason and Paver.
Lang Farm, Toowong, 15th November.

(I am not sure whether William is commenting as someone who was involved with the paving work in this instance and feels aggrieved or as an observer who was familiar with the work involved in paving.)

You don’t get that from a photo!

William does a talk in Toowong at a community meeting about drainage in that area. Later William obtains a job with the Metropolitan Council as an Inspector of Works and in 1887 there is a report in the paper about the men in the Works Department having an Athletics Day reported in the Brisbane Courier in 1887.

The test of which is of particular interest i have highlighted in bold:
The running contests, of the employees of the corporation, which came off at New Farm on Saturday last under the auspices of his worship the Mayor, were continued and brought to a satisfactory conclusion yesterday morning.
CM 1887 Works raceThe runners and the contractors of Saturday last, not feeling quite satisfied with their handicaps, met by mutual agreement at the Town Hall at 10 o’clock yesterday morning, and proceeded to the old racecourse, New Farm, to decide their pedestrian speeds, under milder or more reasonable handicaps than fixed for the Saturday’s programme. The following is the result :- 
100 Yards Handicap Flat Race between   Kirk, city engineer, and Price, overseer of works, the latter receiving 3 yards start, resulted, after a close contest, in Kirk winning by a yard and a-half.
The next event to decide was between Horan, contractor, and Busby, overseer of works, 150 yards flat race, both from scratch. A good race was the result, Busby winning by 8 yards. There was lively betting on this match.
The next match was between Hart, contractor, and Davies, city engineer’s staff, the latter (Davies) conceding 10 yards to Hurt in a 250-yards race. Considerable betting and interest was centered in this result, both men being old pedestrians and athletes of much fame, especially Davies, who is still an all- round athlete not timid to meet any of our young aspirants in all-round contests. The race was won by Davies easily, winning by 6 yards.
150 yards between Kirk, city engineer, and Donovan, contractor, both men to start, from scratch. Donovan failing or fearing to run, the race wits decided in favour of Kirk.
The next race was between Busby and Price, both corporation employees, a 150 yards match, Busby giving Price 20 yards start, and winning a closely-contested race by 1 and a 1/2 yards; won in the last 10 yards.
In the race, Contractors v, Manufacturers, Connor ran with Fencon, pipe and tile manufacturer, 100 yards, Connor receiving 7 yards start from Fencon. This was termed the mackintosh race, being run in mackintoshes, rain falling heavily, and bringing an abrupt termination to a most enjoyable morning’s sport. 
Considerable interest was manifested in the  result of all the above contests, and they may lead to similar competitions later on.

Now would you have thought the dignified gentleman in the photo would have been involved in foot-races and winning? (admittedly at the time of the race William would have been 36 years old rather than the probable 50 to 60 of the photo)

There have been a number of other reports of interest about William in the papers but that will be a post for another day…….

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