Daily Archives: July 9, 2009

More on the Burchett boys

I recently wrote about the three Burchett brothers who arrived in Port Phillip in the late 1830s/early 40s- Charles Gowland Burchett (1817-1856), Henry Burchett (1820-1872), Frederick Burchett (1824-1861) and Alfred Burchett (1831-1888).

I came across a reference to the Burchetts in William Westgarth’s  Personal Recollections of Early Melbourne and Victoria in his chapter on Early Western Victoria:

Thence I reached “Burchetts’ of the Emus” less finished, indeed, but hardly less attractive. They were business clients of my pleasant old friend Charles Barnes, whose name I gave as my pass, with, however, but little need in those open-door days.  This was a sheep station, as it was a drier locality, the other stations having been more suited for cattle.  We sat joyously chatting in the bright midwinter sunshine.  The air was redolent of humour, for which the Burchetts had a name.  One of them was rather deaf– indeed very deaf, but when he did pick up the current subject, he seldom failed to contribute good sauce.  With regret I remounted next morning, for with business finished in this direction, I was resolved to push on to the Glenelg, as I wished to see through Victoria westwards while I had the opportunity.  So I turned my steed north for the Wannon.

The reference to ‘The Emus’  and the deafness of one of the brothers confused me, and I assumed that they might be different Burchetts. But I’ve also been reading George Augustus Robinson’s journals, and found that on his Western Victoria travels, he also came across some Burchetts.   The editor, Ian Clark, identified them as “my” Burchetts.

A few miles from Gray’s came to another branch creek of the Hopkins on which was a sheep station of Burchett’s.  From this station proceeded to Burchett’s head station.  There are three brothers of the Burchetts’ they are from Kentish Town, London and the eldest is well informed.  They had on a curious costume: common floss jackets much too large for their little persons.  Two of the brothers are deaf.  There is also a Mr Bayley, an elderly person in partnership with them.  They have cattle and sheep.  It was raining when we arrived.  A youth, the youngest of all the Burchetts came out of the hut.  We asked the time; he said half past four by the appearance of the sun.  We judged it later and asked him how he knew.  He said, by the cattle coming home; they were to come home at four and they had just arrived. I asked a woman at one other hut and she said between five and six; she was correct.  The elder brother gave us directions to Muston’s to which station we were anxious to get this evening. He said if we kept the bank of the creek we were upon it would bring us to Muston’s.  I asked Burchett if he had been troubled by the blacks.  Said no, but he had heard that the natives had been at Kemp’s.  (The Journal of George Augustus Robinson, Volume Two: 1 October 1840-31 August 1841, p. 125, 3 April 1841).

There’s the same reference to deafness- although Robinson says that two of the brothers are deaf.  Well,  according to Google Maps, Penhurst and Mt Rouse (where I know that the Burchetts settled) are  about 50ks from the Hopkins River, so I assume that it’s the same group.   They sound a hospitable bunch.