Sunday, April 28, 2019

Twin blows and the end of the line. (The Greys of Falldon, Part III)

(Continues on from previous blogs about the Greys of Fallodon. Part I, Part II)

1928 was a bad year for Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, as he suffered two close personal tragedies.

(In 1914, he had lost a second brother and the heir presumptive to the title, Alexander Harry Grey, who died without issue aged 44, after years of service in the West Indies as Vicar of St Jude's, Arima, Trinidad. There is little on record about him and some sources suggest that he had suffered a form of brain damage after being hit by a cricket ball as a child.)

Then, on 28 September 1928, his last surviving brother, Charles Grey, was fatally wounded in a similar fashion to that of George Grey in 1911: in Africa by a wild animal. This time it was a buffalo rather than a lion and the incident took place in Tanganyika, and he died at Tabora

The African buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals in the world, often called the widow-maker. Its weight, strength and speed has been the undoing of many a hunter.

Always dangerous. See this article in The Telegraph

Like his brother George, Charles Grey had had an adventurous career in Africa. He accompanied George in the exploration and development of the copper fields of Katanga but often travelled independently with his own boats and native carriers while exploring the lesser-known regions.

He was also a keen long distance cyclist (see Part II on George Grey). According to a correspondent in The Times:

“… On hearing the news of the outbreak of war in August, 1914, Mr Grey rode 500 miles on an ordinary bicycle to reach the nearest place where he could get into the fighting. He joined a company of the King’s African Rifles in East Africa as a lieutenant. Shortly afterwards, in an engagement against a very superior force of Germans, he was severely wounded in the left hand and forearm. Only first aid was available, and Mr Grey had to walk 22 miles to Kisumu, the nearest place where he could obtain surgical treatment. There his arm was amputated 6 in. below the shoulder, and when he had sufficiently recovered he returned to England, where he underwent two further operations. In the following year he went back to Africa and joined General Northey’s army, serving under him on the Intelligence Staff till the end of the War, being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the Military Cross. He became an expert shot with a rifle, in spite of the loss of his arm, and his death was the result of injuries that he received from a wounded buffalo while he was hunting in Tanganyika, accompanied only by four of his native servants. He was man of singular integrity, courage, and charm, and greatly beloved by every one who knew him.” [The Berwick Advertiser 4 October 1928.]

As with the real story of George Grey (see Part II), there is much about Charles Grey and his exploits in Africa that are unknown today. A book called Adventures in Africa Under the British, Belgian and Portuguese Flags by John B. Thornhill is one of the few sources on this elusive character and it describes how, while he was manager of the Tin Belt in Katanga and with the help of another white man and a group of their servants, Charles confronted and killed around twelve marauding slave traders.  Although having only one arm, it was due to his fluency in Swahili that he was made an intelligence officer during the WW1 East African Campaign.

Probably his last voyage. 1926 Passenger List for SS Llandovery Castle to Mombasa.
Charles gives the cryptic occupation of "Research Work"

Location of Tabora - centre of Tanganyika Territory

National Probate Calendar, UK

A few weeks after Charles died, on 18 November 1928, while residing at her country estate in Wiltshire, the second Lady Grey, the former Pamela Wyndham, became acutely ill (with what exactly is difficult to establish) and in spite of emergency attendance by a doctor was dead within hours. She was 57.

Lord Edward Grey was away at Fallodon in Northumberland and had to make an emergency dash to be at her side. This involved stopping the overnight Edinburgh-London express to pick him up. He was a director of the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) at the time and had his own private railway station. Apparently he boarded the train at 10 pm without even bothering to pack. Early in the morning of 19 November, Pamela’s son, Lord Glenconner, met his stepfather in London with the sad news that he was too late.

Lady Grey was a popular figure in high society and widely mourned. A writer of prose, poetry, memoirs and children’s books, she had taken a particular interest in spiritualism following the death of her eldest son from her first marriage, Edward Wyndham Tennant, during the Battle of the Somme.

Her book on the subject The Earthen Vessel deals with “book tests”, in which the departed sent their messages via a medium and directed the living individuals to messages contained in extracts from various books. The medium in this case was Gladys Leonard, who chanelled an Indian woman called Feda. Mrs Leonard could not possibly have had intimate knowledge of all the specific libraries Feda mentioned, let alone the books contained in them, and so was merely the conduit for the messages from “the other side”. Mrs Leonard seems to have been discredited eventually, but Lady Grey was convinced by them and the book tests in The Earthern Vessel do make for interesting reading as to unexplained coincidences. 

Lady Grey, c. 1920, Copyright National Portrait Gallery UK

With the death of Charles Grey, the baronetcy passed to the line of an elderly cousin and thus the male descendancy from Anna Sophia Ryder, the owner of the little book in my possession that initially inspired this research into the Greys of Fallodon, came to an end.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Edward and George. (The Greys of Fallodon, Part II)

(Continues on from the previous blog post about Anna Sophia Ryder who married into the family known as the Greys of Fallodon.)

Anna and her husband Sir George Grey had only one son George Henry Grey, but seven legitimate grandchildren * and although there were four sons, none would leave male successors and the title eventually passed to a cousin.

Sir Edward Grey (1862-1933) is perhaps the most famous member of the family. In 1914, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary and the duty fell to him on 3rd August to tell the House of Commons that the country was about to go to war with Germany.

It is said that after giving his speech, he returned to his desk in the Foreign Office, working until evening. It was then he looked out his window to see the gas lamps being lit in St James Park and he uttered his famous prophetic and pessimistic words:-

Sir Edward had believed in the future of a peaceful and civilised Europe and so had every right to be worried. That he looked out to St James Park in his darkest moments also reflected another aspect of his character; he was a nature-lover and in particular a keen, bordering on fanatical, ornithologist and he would often spend time observing the water fowl in the Park between breaks in his political duties.  This cartoon obviously picked up on that proclivity.

Vanity Fair, 26 March 1913
"The general colour of the Secretary Bird is blueish gray"
Copyright National Portrait Gallery London

He had a desultory education at Winchester and at Oxford, where he preferred sports and was described as a ... distinguished tennis player but little else .... Edward was eventually sent down from Balliol College for idleness ... having shown himself entirely ignorant of the work set him. (See The Two Edwards by Peter Hof).

The cynic might suggest that one of the few options open to academic failure would be a shot at politics, but Edward found his calling and would become a much-esteemed statesman. Elected as the youngest member of the House of Commons in 1885 (age 23), he then embarked on a curiously chaste marriage with Frances Dorothy Widdrington, who apparently refused to have anything to do with the physical side of things. Presumably the marriage was sustained by a common interest in nature, such as bird-watching and hiking the moors. It was very likely that the young and wealthy Edward would have had no trouble finding consolation with more accommodating ladies. He is believed to have had at least two illegitimate children, one of whom was socialite Audrey Coats. After Dorothy died in a road accident, Edward married Pamela Wyndham.

Sir Edward and his second wife, Pamela, c. 1920s
Copyright National Portrait Gallery, London

In spite of being nearly completely blind by the end of his life, Edward had managed to write a number of books, including The Charm of Birds and another on Fly Fishing.

Contrast the rarefied political and high society life of Edward with that of his younger brother, George, whose adventurous life would be ended by a lion in Africa in 1911.

Newcastle Journal, 11 February 1911

Considerable newsprint space at the time focussed, often in detail, on the name-dropping hunting expedition that resulted in the incident at the Athi River in Kenya on property belonging to Sir Arthur Pease.

Sir Arthur Pease, Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt, 1909

From those newspaper reports - and combined with modern-day perceptions about the sort of people who indulge in big-game hunting - on first appearances it is all too easy to assume that George Grey was just another indolent upper-crust Englishman only interested in killing animals for sport. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

None of those obituary columns give much detail about George's earlier years in Africa and all that he accomplished in the way of military exploits, prospecting, and administration. To tell his story in detail would require a full-length biography that no-one has yet written. Here are a few notable points:

Grey's Scouts was founded by George Grey at the time of the Matabele Rebellion and became a crack mounted infantry regiment familiar to everyone who has connections to the old Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). This image from the front page of The Graphic of 8 August 1896 has the caption: The Matabele Revolt, Captain Grey's Scouts and the Afrikander Corps in Action.

Copyright Illustrated London News
Badge and Grey's Scouts Trooper c. 1970s

Founder of the Copperbelt on the borders of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Katanga (now part of Democratic Republic of Congo). It was George Grey who discovered and pegged the ancient African copper workings in the area and negotiated the concessions for many of the mines that still operate today.

Epic Cyclist. Horses too often fell prey to the diseases of Africa and George had to take to two wheels instead. Several of his epic journeys are detailed in the book Generation of Men by W.V. Brelsford, when travelling 600 miles in one week was nothing unusual. One example from 1899, when there was no railway, no mail service and no telegraph, George set off on his own by bicycle through rough country all the way from Katanga to Bulawayo, about 860 miles, carrying urgent information on the copper concessions. He accomplished this in less than a week and carried no equipment or arms but "merely a bottle of Bovril, some bars of chocolate and his razors. No-one ever saw him unshaven". 

Fighter of Slave-Traders. Also detailed in Generation of Men, are accounts of George and his African companions having fights with slave caravans, sending the slavers packing and releasing the slaves.

Special Commissioner for Swaziland. In the years 1907-1910, George, who could not abide red tape, managed to sort out much of the tangle of land concessions in Swaziland (now Eswatini). His work guaranteed that white people would be excluded from owning most of the best agricultural land and that it would remain with the Swazi people.

One of George's contemporaries, Frederick Selous, said of him "... one of the finest specimens of an Englishman in the country - quiet, self-contained and unassuming, but at the same time brave, capable and energetic".

George Grey
From the book, Generation of Men
Copyright W.V. Brelsford

For these and many other tales about George Grey, see Chapter 9 of Generation of Men by W.V. Brelsford, unfortunately not available to read in full online.

A number of other articles about Grey appear in old issues of the Northern Rhodesia Journal. Some of these can be accessed online via but be aware that the website is old and not always reliable.

The family seat, Fallodon Hall, Northumberland

* An online family tree shows at least one child, a William Grey, born to George Henry Grey before he married Harriet Jane Pearson, but this would need more thorough investigation. This is not to say that George Henry didn’t have illegitimate children, but usually in such circumstances and at that time, such births were considered so disgraceful that the children may have been registered and baptised with either the surnames of the mothers, or those of foster or adoptive parents.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A young lady and her book. (The Greys of Fallodon, Part I)

This little book, entitled Walks in a Forest, by Thomas Gisborne, M.A., and published by T. Cadell and W. Davies of Strand, London, in 1814, has been part of my family's book collection for many years.

I believe my father picked it up in an English second-hand bookshop, having spotted the bookplate that shows it once belonged in the library of the Greys of Fallodon, an aristocratic family with ties to his native county of Northumberland.

Walks in a Forest, 1814
10 x 16 cm

Grey of Fallodon

The tiny bookseller’s sticker in the top left hand corner showed that it was sold by T. Gibbons, Bookseller and Binder, of No. 5 Argyle Street, Bath. The building (No. 5 on the corner) still stands today, probably not too much different from how it was in 1817.

On another page in the book and in fading ink, the following is inscribed:

 Anna Sophia Ryder, June 1817.

A search of this lady shows her to have been the eldest of the thirteen children of The Rt. Rev. Henry Dudley Ryder, Bishop of Lichfield, and she was born on 18 January 1805 at the Lutterworth Parsonage, Leicestershire. Thus, she would have been just twelve-and-a-half years old when her name was inscribed in the book.

Statue of Bishop Ryder, father of Anna Sophia
Lichfield Cathedral.
Copyright The Victorian Web

Although one can never know how the young Anna came by the book, it is possible it was a gift or purchased during a visit to Bath in the season while visiting with members of her family. This was the height of the Regency era when Bath was the ton, or the place to be seen if you moved in the higher echelons of society.

Teenagers and pre-teens as we know them today with their own outspoken identities and cultures did not exist in those days. You were a child and then you were an adult, and the stage when you moved from one state to the other might be dependent on your physical maturity rather than a day on the calendar. (Anyone researching their family trees in the late 18th/early 19th Century knows the shocks that are in store as to the age some girls were married and/or gave birth or when boys became front-line soldiers.)

Being from a religious family it is debatable whether the young Anna, barely on the cusp of womanhood, would be permitted to attend the slightly risque gathering places of Regency Bath, but as she also had an aristocratic pedigree and several politicians in the family noted for their liberalism (and more than their fair share of illegitimate progeny among them), it is impossible to say. This extract about her father from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:-

... While participating fully in the fashionable social life expected of a clergyman of his means and connections, Ryder seems, from the beginning, to have taken his pastoral charge at Lutterworth and Claybrook with great seriousness. ... He was also attentive to the development of personal piety and to that of his family, whom he regularly assembled for the reading of prayers. His connections and his attention to his duty guaranteed further preferment, and in 1808 he was presented to a canonry of Windsor. His sermons in St George's Chapel were greatly admired by George III, who said that they reminded him of the divinity of former days ...

The romantic in me likes to imagine that young Miss Ryder may have strolled about looking at the sights of Bath with her mother or another chaperone, perhaps with this little book in her hand or with it carefully packaged and tucked in her reticule. Judging from the image below, one wonders if there might have been a trend to carry little poetry books around as a fashion accessory?

This image is dated August, 1817. Interesting that the book she is holding is the same size, with the same brown cover and rectangular emboss as my book and given the title of the image is also Walking Dress, it is very possibly a copy of Walks in a Forest.

Copyright CandiceHern

The text in the book is extremely florid by modern standards and is littered with explanatory footnotes, some in Greek or Latin, and it takes a lot of patience to read, let alone comprehend. Although the cover is battered, the inner pages are almost pristine and the spine has never been broken. Perhaps young Anna also found it a little tedious and was more interested in the comings and goings of the fashionable set in Regency Bath.

Another observation, in this 1814 edition the text has been updated into modern usage and no longer has the long "S" which looks like an "f". Here is a link to the earlier edition at Internet Archive.

It is very likely Anna was familiar with Jane Austen, whose works are famously linked with her time in Bath, and no doubt would have been saddened when the author was to die so soon, in July 1817. Another notable departure that year was the tragic loss in childbirth of the heiress apparent, Princess Charlotte, as a result of which twenty years later her cousin, Princess Victoria, was destined to become Queen, under whom Anna’s future husband would serve in government.

On 14 August 1827, in Holy Trinity Church, Eccleshall, Staffordshire, Anna married The Hon. Sir George Grey, who was at the time a lawyer in private practice but who one year later succeeded to the baronetcy as the 2nd Earl Grey, and in 1832 entered Parliament initially as the Whig member for Devonport and in later years as the member for Morpeth. He would serve under four Prime Ministers, often as Home Secretary, and played an important role in many of the major reforms during the Victorian era.  

The younger George Grey,
sketch by George Richmond
The older George Grey,
Carte de visite photograph,
National Portrait Gallery London

Anna and George had only one child, a son, George Henry Grey, born in 1835, who followed a career in the militia. He was equerry to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) as can be seen in this extract from the 1871 Census where he was in residence with the Prince at Marlborough House.

In spite of the strong moral principles of his father, George Henry seems to have followed in the footsteps of his other rakish relatives (and his boss, the Prince of Wales, for that matter!) as, according to an online family tree, he had two illegitimate children as well as seven legitimate ones.  George Henry died quite young, in December 1874, at Sandringham and the Prince of Wales attended his funeral service in Northumberland.

It must have been a terrible blow for Anna and George to lose their only son, but they went on to play important roles in raising their grandchildren, one of whom would become the more famous Edward Grey, 1st Viscount of Fallodon.

This report is from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 18 December, 1874:-

FUNERAL OF LIEUT.-COLONEL GREY.The remains of Lieut.-Colonel George Henry Grey, only son of the Right Hon. Sir George Grey, Bart., G.C.B, of Falloden, Northumberland, and one of the equerries of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, were interred shortly before noon yesterday, in the family vault, in the small churchyard of Embleton, situated about two miles from Falloden. The Prince of Wales was present, having arrived in the North on the preceding evening, and become the guest during his short stay of Earl Grey, at Howick Hall, which is only short distance from Falloden.The deceased gentleman expired after short illness, at the Equerries' Lodge, Sandringham, whence his body was removed to the family seat. He caught a severe cold whilst on short visit to Falloden three weeks ago, but proceeded to Sandringham, where congestion of the lungs afterwards set in, and he died yesterday week, the immediate cause of death being inflammation of the pleuris. The funeral procession, which consisted of hearse and five mourning coaches, left Falloden at eleven o'clock, and, on its arrival, was joined by the Prince of Wales, Earl Grey, the Duke of Northumberland, Earl Percy, M.P., and a number of the neighbouring gentry. [Full list of attendees not included here].A large assemblage of the neighbouring agricultural population was in the vicinity of the churchyard and on the route, and they evinced every mark of respect for the memory of the deceased and at his untimely end. There were also present the permanent staff of the Northumberland Light Infantry Militia, of which the deceased gentleman was lieutenant-colonel. The burial service was read by the Rev. W. Streatfeild, rector of Howick. The Prince of Wales left in the afternoon express train for the south.

When he died in 1882, George had been married to Anna for 55 years, a record these days and even more remarkable then. Anna herself died in December 1893 just before her 89th birthday.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any images of Anna when she was alive, but here is the memorial to her and George in the Holy Trinity Churchyard, Embleton, Northumberland. Copyright Find-a-Grave.

Fallodon Hall no longer belongs to the Grey family, but is occasionally open to the public under the Open Garden Scheme

More to come on other Greys of Fallodon in a future post.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Book review. "Black Snake: The Real Story of Ned Kelly"

When I first came to Australia in the early 1970s, it may seem surprising that I’d never heard of Ned Kelly. Only after I’d been enlightened by native-born Australians, visited displays devoted to him in museums, read a few books, watched some movies and TV shows and ultimately visited places like Euroa, Beechworth and Glenrowan in what is known as “Kelly Country” in North-East Victoria and Southern New South Wales, did I come to know more about this most famous of bushrangers.

All of what I learned led me to accept the history that Ned was a Robin Hood sort of figure, that he was, like that other Wild Colonial Boy of the song, a bit of a romantic rogue who “robbed the rich and helped the poor” and his “proud young heart” defended the downtrodden and marginalised. He wrote letters and advocated a form of colonial Irish independence from English imperialism. Plus, above all, he fought valiantly against a corrupt and evil police force, that the infamous shoot-out at Stringybark Creek was forced on him, that he killed only because he had to. Even his actions in shooting a dying policeman was seen as some form of mercy killing.

Then came a day when my family members were away skiing at Mount Buller and I chose to stay in the town of Mansfield where I wandered idly about, coming across this memorial to the policemen killed by the Kelly Gang at Stringybark Creek.

I pondered on the fact that the three named policemen killed by Kelly were all Irish-born, not English. It dawned on me right then there might be a lot more to be revealed about the legend than was generally known.

This led me to search for alternative points of view on Ned Kelly and find out whether I had been duped for some reason. There wasn’t much to be found. This was in the days before historic documents or newspapers became widely available on the Internet, but I was fortunate to hear some stories from those whose ancestors had been victims and had suffered cruelly at Kelly’s hands: horses and property stolen, women threatened, children terrified, homes trashed and even burned to the ground.

I learned that Kelly didn’t rob the rich English and give to the poor Irish; he robbed the poor Irish and then laughed at them, that he was no Robin Hood, but a self-serving narcissist, a violent and unstable criminal. Due to the pro-Ned lobby and massive myth machine, most of these people tended to keep their knowledge and opinions on Kelly to themselves.

Recently, I read and reviewed Mrs Kelly, a somewhat overwrought tome by Grantlee Kieza  about Ned’s mother. While I did have some sympathy for the woman, throughout that book her son came across as a very nasty piece of work and I sensed there might be a change in how people would evaluate the real Ned Kelly.

I am now pleased to have read Black Snake: The Real Story of Ned Kelly by Leo Kennedy, the great-grandson of Sergeant Michael Kennedy who, together with his two companions, was outgunned and subjected to horrific and sadistic treatment by Kelly at Stringybark Creek, yet has come to be belittled and denigrated by a veritably army of Kelly supporters, fanatics and fantasists for nigh on 140 years.

The facts in the book come from a wide variety of sources: official documents and family histories, from police and eye-witness reports of the time, nearly all of them greatly at odds with the myth. Kennedy explains how the legend started and, once it did, how it has been almost impossible to stop, even up to the present day.

When he was a young boy, Ned Kelly was never mentioned in the family and when Leo Kennedy came home from school one day asking questions about the famous bushranger, his father had to relent and explain the history, how Leo’s great-grandfather was murdered by Ned and how his great-grandmother Bridget had to suffer and bring up five children alone, to endure the lies that followed, how the lies became the truth. He writes:

“…  As writers, historians, and film and TV directors have taken on the story of Ned Kelly, sanitising and glorifying thievery and murder, Ned Kelly has morphed from anti-hero to hero and back again. His crimes are excused or removed from the story. Worse, some hold him up as a role model, an icon. A loveable larrikin or Robin Hood figure. Some even deny the murders at Stringybark Creek …”

He further writes about the families who were hurt - Kelly descendants as well as those of the policemen - as the myth warped and grew tentacles, seemingly with no place for any dissenting view. Leo Kennedy states that the level of “distortion is breathtaking” and continues to expand in websites and blogs, Wikipedia, even “the Australian Government’s own website is loaded with errors”.

Even in Ireland, the misinformation persists, with some Irish academics going so far as adopting Ned as some kind of hero for his anti-English attitudes. 
 “The truth is the Kelly Gang were not the ‘Irish’ and ‘Catholic’ figures invented by writers years later; they were not in a battle against the English overlords. Most Irish wanted to assimilate and settle in to their new home and get on with their lives. Irish Catholic sentiment at the time chimed with the general populace: good riddance to the Kelly Gang.”
There will be some individuals who are none too happy with the publication of this book. Many depend on the mystique of Kelly for their survival, especially tourism operators and souvenir sellers, but also diverse industries such as clothiers, wineries and even letter-box and garden furniture manufacturers. One famous artist in particular established his career with his images of Ned Kelly, being Sidney NolanThere is nothing to be gained in exposing the truth if it means you have a lot to lose. Nobody wants a money-making legend messed with.

From where I now sit, I can look across the road to where one of my neighbours has a fairly large statue of Ned Kelly in full armour with rifle in pride of place on his front step. I doubt this neighbour is ever likely to read this book as he’s most likely a “true believer” but it is galling to know there many similar crass statues in thousands of gardens across the country, that few people give any deep or serious thought to what they represent. 

Numerous versions available should you want one 

The book is a long-needed tribute to those honest and hard-working policemen whose names are on the Mansfield Police Memorial and who faced up to the Kelly Gang with little training and support, under-resourced (they even had to buy their own guns) but were determined to do their duty and help their community, and bring the criminals to justice. For their sacrifice and the ongoing wrongful indignities their families were subjected to, they deserve to be admired by every Australian, instead of dismissed and ignored.

In an era when history is constantly subject to revisionism, it is now time to set the story straight on Ned Kelly.

(The content fully deserves five stars, although the narrative does have some editing issues and grammatical errors, but it is hoped these will be corrected in future editions.)

Time to completely recycle Ned!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Learn it, but never play the retreat". A teenage hero of the Boer War

On 2 February 1950, an elderly man died at the Waverley War Memorial Hospital in Sydney, Australia. The relevant newspaper funeral notices described him as a Boer War veteran but nothing else. There was no mention of his wife although apparently he was survived by three children - Nora, Eileen and John - and some relatives connected with Fiji. To the uninitiated, the life of John Francis Dunne was just another routine passing.

What may not have been known about him is that when he was in his mid-teens he was a world-wide celebrity, almost a cult figure. At the age of 15, he had met Queen Victoria and his image appeared in newspapers, magazines, in comics and children’s books, on pennants, badges, buttons and cigarette cards and all other types of memorabilia. He toured and appeared on stage in re-enactments, including a play called During the Siege in which he had the role of a dispatch carrier. There was a music hall ditty written about him and his image was reproduced in commemorative decorative figurines. 

Dunne had been born on the Isle of Man on 22 January, 1884, the son of a soldier in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.  He followed in his father's footsteps and joined the regiment at the age of fourteen. Much later, as an adult, he served as a ship’s steward mostly on the Montoro, a vessel that regularly sailed between Australia, various South Pacific ports and New Guinea. He’d also owned a bar in Fiji at some time.

Montoro carried cargo and passengers (from shipspotting)

After his early encounter with fame, Dunne had slipped into anonymity and it took an erroneous report of his death in Melbourne in the newspapers in 1933 that forced him back into the limelight in order to set the record straight, that he was very much alive and was the real “Bugler Dunne of Colenso”. Apparently quite a number of individuals had tried to pass themselves off as the Bugle Boy in order to cash in on his fame, or gain medals, including one of them who was “a professional juggler and sword swallower”!

Brisbane resident, Mrs Grace Marguerite Gallwey (nee Phillips) who had served as a nurse during the Boer War, met the ship’s steward and verified that he was in fact one and the same as the 15 year old bugler whom she had treated nearly 35 years earlier in South Africa and in England. She remembered him clearly, that she helped him buy new feathers for his hat in Southampton and that she accompanied him when he met Queen Victoria at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, where the Queen gave Dunne a new bugle to replace the one he had lost during the battle.

Shortly before he died, Dunne talked to a reporter for the Sydney Daily Telegraph, telling his story (reproduced here from the newspaper image below) 
'John Francis Dunne, boy-bugler hero of the Boer War battle of Colenso, was this week admitted to a Sydney hospital. He is now 65 years old.  [He turned 66 just days after the article was published.]   For years school history books have told of the bravery in battle of the 15-years-old bugler, and how Queen Victoria rewarded him with a silver bugle.  Boer War veterans often speak of his gallantry.  Yesterday, lying in his hospital bed, silver-haired and bespectacled, Mr. Dunne recalled the campaign.  Colenso was a bitter, bloody battle,” Mr. Dunne said.  It was December 15, 1899. We were fighting to cross the Tugela River and relieve Ladysmith, and the Boers were giving us a slathering.  I was just 15 at the time - I had enlisted as a boy bugler in the 1st Dublin Fusiliers a little over a year before, the day I turned 14.   I got the order to sound the advance - never play the retreat in the British Army, you know. Learn it, but never play it.  As I played the advance I began to charge with the officers at the head of the men, when a Boer bullet went through my right arm and hurled my bugle from me  Simultaneously a piece of shell struck my chest.  I staggered to my feet, picked up my bugle with my left arm, and finished sounding the advance.  The other buglers along the lines picked it up and sounded the call also and the troops moved forward.  We crossed the river with heavy casualties, but took Ladysmith.”  Mr. Dunne said he was carried from the battlefront on a stretcher, and was invalided to a hospital in England.  Queen Victoria sent for me when I recovered, he said. I was taken to the Isle of Wight in the Royal Yacht to see her.  She was very kind to me, and presented me with the bugle.”  Mr. Dunne said the bugle was stolen from him while he was in the Army in England three years later.'

From Soldiers of the Queen, image W V Amey, c. 1900
Another Amey view, different headgear

Carried through the streets of Portsmouth - possibly the man on the right is his father. 

The Bugle Boy meets the Queen, Australian War Memorial

A rare intact figurine currently for sale on Ebay
Commemorative pin

Dunne was discharged as medically unfit on 17 March, 1902. For his service in South Africa he received the Queen's South Africa Medal with the clasp Relief of Ladysmith and a £5 war gratuity. Apparently he had been offered the enormous sum of £3,000 by Madame Tussaud's for the bugle, but he declined the offer, only to have it stolen.

Details of his time after that are sketchy. His military records contain a letter saying that he transferred to Australia on 23 April 1907, his only address care of the G.P.O. Sydney, but in what capacity is unknown. 

The photo below with his wife and children taken c. 1915 shows him wearing what looks like a ship's steward uniform. There is also a passenger list showing Dunne, aged 30, sailing from England to Australia on the SS Borda early in 1914, with wife Hilda E., aged 21, daughter Nora Ivi aged 2 and son John Francis aged 3 months. Dunne gives his occupation as a Clerk. The same family appears, but is crossed out, on an earlier ship passenger list. Perhaps they missed the sailing for some reason. Interestingly, this list further qualifies Dunne's occupation as a Shipping Clerk. From genealogical searches, his wife was born Hilda Kruckow in New South Wales and she had Italian heritage, but it seems that they were later divorced, which may explain why she does not appear in the funeral notices.

In a Fiji Islands Directory dated 1921, Dunne's name is listed as a resident of Levuka.

In 1922, Dunne was mugged in Sydney and again lost a number of valuable items, as per this report in the NSW Police Gazette. 

The ailing veteran tells his story. 
From TROVE, National Library of Australia

Cigarette card c. 1900, National Portrait Gallery
It would be fascinating to find out what happened to that stolen bugle. Perhaps it is in some private collection, but if it ever resurfaces, with its plaque intact, it should be instantly recognisable from its description in this extract from the Illustrated London News, 24 February 1900:
'Bugler Dunne had his visit to Osborne on Monday, crossing the Solent from Southsea in the charge of Lieutenant Knox. A boy of fifteen, dressed in khaki, he was ushered by Sir John McNeil into a small room, where sat her Majesty near a table. He stood and bowed a little nervously; then the Queen told him to step forward, asked him about his wound and whether he liked the Army - which he said he did - and finally presented him with a bugle to take the place of that which he lost by the Tugela River. The new instrument is silver-mounted; it has a green bugle-cord, the green dear to a boy whose father was born in County Tipperary; and a silver plate attached to it bears the inscription: 
"Presented to Bugler John Francis Dunne, 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, by Queen Victoria, to replace the bugle lost by him on the field of battle at Colenso, on the 10th December, 1899 when he was wounded".'
From Illustrated London News, 23 February 1900

This website carries a number of images of Dunne, including some recollections of a descendant and bisque figurines of the Bugle Boy, but some of the facts are at odds with elsewhere, e.g. it says he met the Queen at Windsor not the Isle of Wight, etc.

Image of John Dunne, wife and two children, c. 1915, Museum Isle of Man

Find-a-Grave link

Bugler Dunne

Bugler Dunne, Bugler Dunne, you are missing all the fun,
And another chap is bugling where the battle's being won.
Don't you hear the ringing cheers of the Dublin Fusiliers,
Bugler Dunne?

Yet you sing, yet you sing, though your arm is in a sling,
And your little bone is broken where the bullet left a sting,
And you show a bloody scar. Guess you dunno' where you are,
Bugler Dunne.

Yes I do, yes I do, for I've got a bugle new,
And it's shining all with silver, and its sound is good and true.
Left the old one in the river, and I'll go back there, no never -
Least not for you.

But I'll go back for the Queen, the finest lady that I've seen -
Yes, I've seen her, she's a nailer - and I say just what I mean.
She's a heart that's warm and true for the lads in red and blue.
God save the Queen!

(origins of this jingoistic ditty unknown)