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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Hannah Cavanagh

Born: 1828; Died: 1865

Hannah (aka Honor) Cavanagh was born around March 1828 in Tynagh, County Galway, the second of three children of Thomas and Jane Cavanagh - Ann 1826, Hannah 1828 and Patrick 1830.

Her life was one of extraordinary highs, followed by terrible tragedy.

Her father was transported to Australia in 1832, for being a 'Whiteboy', when she was only four and she remained in Ireland with her mother and siblings for 17 years during very difficult times, including the potato famines. The family finally emigrated in 1849 on the 'Panama', where Hannah was listed as a Housemaid.

The Kain family, including children Michael and Honora, were also on the 'Panama' to join their pardoned father at Braidwood, and Hannah's daughter, Georgiana Maria Bunn, later married Patrick Kain, the son of Michael Kain.

The family joined Thomas on his tenant farm at Duntroon near the Canberry (Molonglo) River and whilst Patrick appeared to thrive in the 'colony", the two daughters appear to have had difficult lives.

In 1851, Hannah was listed as being of 'Woden', which was the property of Dr James Murray and is probably where she met George Harris Bunn.

George Harris Bunn was born in in Sydney in 1831 to Captain George and Anna Maria (nee Murray) Bunn and her brothers were Sir Terence Aubrey Murray of 'Yarralumla' and Dr James Murray of 'Woden'. Amongst his other pursuits, Captain Bunn commanded a convict transport ship on several voyages to Australia.

After Captain Bunn died in 1834, Anna Maria and her sons moved in with the Murray family, where she became the anonymous author of the first novel published on the mainland of Australia in 1838 - "The Guardian - A tale by 'An Australian". It was the first novel by a woman published in Australia.

Anna Maria and her son JW Bunn then moved to their inherited property 'St Omer' via Braidwood around 1852.

Hannah was married in January 1853 to George Harris Bunn.

The marriage of an aristocrat's son to a convict's daughter was not approved by all:

A Colonial Woman: The Life and Times of Mary Braidwood Mowle 1827-1857 by Patricia Clark

" Heard from James ..... telling me amongst other things of George Bunn's marriage to Kavenagh's daughter – poor Mrs Bunn, it will be a dreadful shock to her".

JW also did not appear to approve of his brother, George's, lifestyle and wrote in his diary:

"My brother preferred to spend his time with the men and fell into the habits of playing cards and drinking, which were, to put it mildly, rather injurious".

In 1851, we began to think of leaving for St Omer. My brother, who had been dealing in cattle, went to the diggings and signalised himself by drinking and quarrelling, but earned a little money – which he squandered. He had at this time some 100 to 150 head of cattle, a team of bullocks and a dray. They were really bought with my money, which my mother had appropriated.

My brother did not come till very late in the year – too late to get the wheat crop in on time. He had left his own business to take cattle to Sydney for my uncle. After the crop was in, he seemed to take no further interest in the place and left for Queanbeyan, where he went shearing.

Then he got married and went to Melbourne, driving cattle. When he got rid of all the stock he could muster, he came back here – just as I had arranged to do without him."

A son, Clarence Bunn, was born in late 1853 in Queanbeyan.

In early 1854, Hannah, George and Clarence were living in Queanbeyan when Dr Murray wrote about his concerns for George's lifestyle:

He had spoken to George "about his habits of life and the objectionable company that he kept".
George had been given a fine disposition by nature, but Dr Murray thought that there was nothing before the young man but a premature death from drinking or a total change of life - "his case seems about hopeless". George had agreed that it was a mistake to have bad companions, and he was leaving in two days' time for St. Omer with his family.

However, he apparently settled down, and around February 1854, George, Hannah and Clarence moved to 'St Omer', Braidwood to join his mother, Anna Maria, and his older brother JW Bunn.

1857 started well with a second house being built at 'St Omer' to accommodate George, a pregnant Hannah and son Clarence and her brother Patrick Cavanagh married Mary Logue.

Then a series of tragedies struck. A daughter, Elizabeth, was born at 'St Omer', but died only one hour later and then Hannah's mother, Jane Cavanagh, drowned in the Canberry river, in October 1857, under tragic circumstances.

In 1860, Hannah had fallen pregnant again, but in August George Harris Bunn fell from his horse in Braidwood and died instantly, aged only 29. George had become well respected in the Braidwood community:

"As a mark of respect to him, business in the town was suspended and the banks closed.
He had become much loved for his kind heart and 'more than one manly cheek was wet with tears of real sorrow'.

Georgiana Maria Bunn was born in May 1861 at 'St Omer' to the widowed Hannah.

Hannah, Clarence and baby Georgiana then returned to Canberra to live with Patrick and Mary Cavanagh. There was apparently some dispute over George's estate that resulted in legal action, something that was repeated years later when daughter Georgiana had her inheritance overturned by her uncle JW Bunn.

"After Georgiana was born in 1861, Hannah took the children, stock belonging to her late husband and horses belonging to her son Clarence, to the home of her brother Patrick.

She also petitioned the Curator of Intestate Estates and was awarded 900 pounds in lieu of outstanding wages and property. At the time of his death, George Harris Bunn owned small parcels of land at Braidwood, Nelligen, Queanbeyan and Goulburn. Hannah leased three allotments at Nelligen to John James Wright in 1862, for a period of twelve years.

She also appears to have lent sums of money to various people at commercial rates of interest, formalising the process by way of promissory notes and, in one instance, by lien on small blocks of land in Queanbeyan, including to Joseph Kaye and David Anderson".

Hannah's sister, Ann (Cavanagh) Langan, then died in May 1864 in Queanbeyan at only 38.

However, Hannah re-married in October 1864 at Queanbeyan to Patrick Thomas Flanagan of Moruya and Hannah and Patrick and the two children then settled at Dapto, near Patrick's brother, the Rev Michael Flanagan.

Life again was looking up, but tragedy struck within the year when Patrick was 'lost at sea', at only 31, and was pronounced dead in October 1865.

Hannah had fallen ill with a fever and died in August 1865, at only 37, having lost a daughter, two husbands and her mother and sister in tragic circumstances, leaving orphans Clarence aged 12 and Georgiana aged 5. Hannah is buried at the Wollongong Old catholic cemetery:

JW Bunn collected the orphans and their possessions from Dean Flanagan and took them back to their grandmother at 'St Omer' in September 1865.

Sadly, Clarence died in October 1865 from Typhoid fever and was buried beside his father at Braidwood, leaving only young Georgiana.

In March 1866, Georgiana was made a ward of her uncle JW Bunn and was bought up at 'St Omer' by her grand-mother, Anna Maria Bunn, presumably a privileged upbringing and was well educated.

John William Buckle Bunn was born in 1830 and became a Grazier, Newspaper Proprietor, Magistrate and Coroner in Braidwood. The married Lucy Agnes Sharpe had been hired as a maid in 1859, and JW and Lucy had six children between 1860 and 1876, but JW could only marry Lucy in 1883 after Lucy's husband had died following a fall from a horse.

Georgiana attended Agnes Murray's ladies college, Springfield at the Glebe, in Sydney for some period and appears to have lived a very happy life with her grandmother for another twenty-four years, but Anna Maria Bunn died in September, 1889.

Anna Maria left 'St Omer' to her grand-daughter Georgiana, who was then only 28 and un-married. The family dynamics that led Anna Maria to leave the estate to her grand-daughter and not her eldest son is not known, but must have been significant as it was contrary to the cultural norms, where the eldest son inherited.

In 1891 Georgiana married Patrick Kain of Krawarree, via Braidwood, and they eventually had six children. Patrick had been born in Krawarree, via Braidwood, in 1868 to Michael and Anne (nee Mahoney) Kain, and this was the Michael Kain who had been on the 'Panama' with Hannah Cavanagh in 1849.

So, Georgiana Maria Bunn, the educated grand-daughter of a pardoned convict and a wealthy aristocratic family (who operated a convict transport ship), inherited a property outside Braidwood and then married the grand-son of another Irish ex-convict.

Their first child, Anna Maria Kain, was born at 'St. Omer' in February 1892.

However, Georgiana's uncle J.W. had contested the will and, after an extended legal process, took possession of 'St Omer', presumably against his mother's wishes. The legal dispute was regarding the wording of Captain George Bunn's will.

Georgiana and Patrick had appealed to the NSW Supreme Court and only lost by 2 votes to 1, so were considering an appeal to the Privy Council, but finally settled with JW. The thought of two grandchildren of Irish convicts appealing to the Privy Council in London seems extraordinary.

Georgiana and her family then returned to Krawarree near Patrick's family, where another five children were born between 1893 and 1901.

I imagine life at Krawarree would have been significantly different to that at 'St Omer' and Georgiana Maria died in February 1906 at only 44, leaving six young children.

She is buried with her father, George Harris Bunn, brother Clarence, and grandmother Anna Maria in the Braidwood cemetery.

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