Friday, 28 February 2020

Thomas Bourke - a wedding anniversary and an obituary

Thomas Bourke was the son of Michael Bourke (c. 1814 - 1877) and his wife Catherine (also known as Kitty, nee Kelly, 1819-1910). They arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and settled on Minton's Run,  a property of 12, 800 acres on the Toomuc Creek in Pakenham in 1843. Around 1850, they established the La Trobe Inn, more commonly known as Bourke's Hotel. Michael and Catherine had the following children* -  James (born 1839), John (1840), Thomas John (1843), Mary Anne (1844), Michael James (1845), Catherine Agnes (1846), Daniel (1848), Mary Lucy (1850), Ellen (1851), Milo Peter (1853), David Joseph (1859), Margaret Frances (1860), Cecelia (1862) and Agnes (1864).

Bourke's Hotel, the La Trobe Inn, photographed in 1909.

The Bourke family have made  a major contribution to the civic, sporting and community life of Pakenham and surrounding areas. I came across this obituary of Thomas Bourke in The Advocate, the Catholic newspaper published in Victoria from 1868 to 1990. The obituary was in issue of March 7, 1929, see it here.

On February 27, at his residence, "Snowview," Pakenham, Mr. Thomas Bourke, the eldest surviving member of one of the pioneer families of the Pakenham district, passed away. The parents of Mr. Bourke came to Australia from Shanagolden, in Limerick, in 1838, and Thomas, the third son, was born in Moonee Ponds in 1842. Later, the family took up land in Pakenham, and settled in the Toomuc Valley, transferring their residence after a while to an old landmark, still known as Bourke's Hotel, a typical village inn on the main Gippsland-road and a busy place of call on the old coaching and stock routes, long before the building of the Gippsland railway.

Thomas and Jane Bourke and family
Photo courtesy of Mary Garry
Back row – Milo Patrick (1882-1966)  John Stephen (1876-1969) Thomas (1842-1929)  Michael Francis (1878-1963)
Front Row - Joanna Agnes (1883 - 1935, married John Carney)  Jane Mary (1849 - 1931, nee Smith )  Bride (1881 - 1931, nee O’Callahgan, wife of Michael)
In 1875 Mr. Bourke was married to Miss Jane Mary Smith, of the Pakenham district, whose parents had also come from Shanagolden. The young couple settled down on land selected by Mr. Bourke some time previously. His brothers and sisters one by one moved away from Pakenham and he alone of the thirteen children who had  survived to adult life ended his days in the original home to which he had brought his young wife over fifty-three years before.

Snowview, Pakenham.  
The home of Thomas and Jame Bourke and their family.
Photo courtesy of Mary Garry

As a public man Mr Bourke will be best known for his association with the Berwick Shire Council, of which he was many times president, and a member for forty-five years. During most of that time he went on horseback from his home at "Snowview" to attend the meetings at Berwick, and it was only through advancing age that he resigned from the council some sixteen years ago.

For the past two years the deceased gentleman had, with but rare intervals, been practically confined to his room, but it was not until the last fortnight that it was realised his end could not be far off. He remained, however, perfectly free from pain, and conscious till the last. Fortified by the sacred rites of the Church, of which he was a simple childlike member, he gently passed away on the morning of February 27.

On Friday, March 1, a Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul was said in St. Patrick's Church, Pakenham, by his eldest son, Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J. There were present the widow of the deceased, his daughter (Mrs J. Carney), and his sons (Messrs. Michael and Milo Bourke). Every family in the Pakenham and surrounding districts was represented at the obsequies, and many travelled from the city and elsewhere, to pay their last tribute of respect to an old friend.

Amongst the chief mourners were present also his surviving brother, Mr. D. Bourke, and Mrs. Bourke, and their sons, Messrs. William, Robert, George, and Daniel Bourke; his nephews Messrs. H. and M. Bourke, of Monomeith Park; Mr. Michael Bourke, of Kyabram: and Mr. R. Billings; his sisters. Mrs. Billings, Mrs. McKeone, Mrs. Coote, and Miss C. M. Bourke.

Amongst the clergy present were Very Rev. J. Lonergan (Adm.), Rev. F. Greenan, Rev. M. Beovich, Rev. W. Ebsworth, Very Rev. J. Sullivan, S.J.; Very Rev. E. Frost, S.J.; Very Rev. J. M. Murphy, S.J.; Very Rev. P. McGrath, S.J.; Rev. J. Egan, S.J.; Rev. V. de Francesco, S.J.; Rev. M. Keenan, Rev. J. Cusack, Rev. T. Little, Rev. D. Joyce, Rev. L. Curran, Rev. T. O'Mara, S.J.; Rev. V. Willis.

A touching and much-appreciated tribute to the deceased was paid by a party of children from Loreto Convent, Mandeville Hall, Toorak, who travelled to Pakenham under the care of Count Thomas O'Loughlin, and placed on the coffin, as it lay before the altar, a spiritual bouquet of Masses, Holy Communions, and prayers. At the conclusion of the Requiem, the funeral procession proceeded to the Pakenham Cemetery, where the interment took place by the side of a well-loved younger brother,  Mr. D. J. Bourke, of Monomeith Park, who had predeceased him by some ten years. The burial service was read by Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J., assisted by Rev. T. Little and the clergy present. R.I.P. (The Advocate, March 7, 1929, see here.)

Wonderful photograph of Thomas and Jane Bourke
Photo courtesy of Mary Garry

Thomas and Jane Bourke celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in November 1925. That was also reported on in The Advocate  of November 19, 1925 (see here)

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bourke, of "Snow View," Pakenham, celebrated their golden wedding on Saturday, 14th inst., and on the following day a reunion of their relatives was held at their home, when the jubilarians were wished many happy returns of the day. Their four children are the Very Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J., Rector of St. Patrick's College, East Melbourne; Mr. Michael Bourke, Mr Milo Bourke, and Mrs. John Carney. The reunion of parents and children was a most happy event, and in addition there were present Mrs. Michael Bourke, Mrs. Milo Bourke, Mr. John Carney, and six grandchildren. With the exception of the Very Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J., all the members of the family reside at Pakenham.

The late Mr. Michael and Mrs. Catherine Bourke, parents of Mr. Thomas Bourke, came to Australia in 1838, and settled in the Pakenham district. Shortly afterwards Mr. and Mrs. John Smith also became residents of Pakenham, and a warm intimacy sprang up between them and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bourke. A closer link was established on November 14th. 1875, when Mr. Thomas Bourke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bourke, and Miss Jane Mary Smith, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, were married at the home of the bride's father. Toomuc Valley, Pakenham by the Rev. Fr. McCarthy. 

Mr Thomas Bourke was a member of the Berwick Shire Council for about 40 years, and filled the presidential chair on several occasions. With his keen business training and close knowledge of the requirements of the district he served the ratepayers faithfully and well in the council, and his
retirement from municipal life was generally regretted. Throughout the Pakenham district Mr. and Mrs. Bourke are held in the highest regard. Enjoying a well-earned rest in the evening of their life, the venerable jubilarians have received congratulations from far and near, but especially from their fellow-residents of the Pakenham district. (The Advocate, November 19, 1925 see here)

*  This information on Michael and Catherine Bourke comes from Early Settlers of the Casey-Cardinia District,  published by the Narre Warren & District Family History Group.

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