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Bunn Family History

Bunn/Smiley family link

On 26 August 1894, Marion Harley Bunn, daughter of Henry Alfred and Margaret (Wilson) Bunn of St Kilda, married Thomas Alexander Ward Smiley, son of Shepherd Parkman and Margaret Phoebe (Ward) Smiley. This part of the Smiley family website explores a little of the Bunn family story from ancestors in England in the late 1600s down to the Australian generation of Marion Harley Bunn.

Marion Harley Bunn, later Smiley 1870-1957

Family line:
John Bunn ca1680James Bunn 1703James Bunn 1737William Bunn 1765George Bunn 1789Henry Alfred Bunn 1827-1905 → Marion Harley Bunn 1870-1957.

Marion Harley Bunn

Marion Harley Bunn, born on 24 October 1870 at St Kilda, Victoria, was the 8th of the 12 children of Henry Alfred and Margaret (Wilson) Bunn.

As a young woman, she is believed to have worked as the bookkeeper at the general store run by her father in Hotham Street, East St Kilda, where she helped keep the store accounts and calculated the wages of the employees. At this time she was living at home with her parents.

In 1891 when she was aged 21, Marion along with her two sisters Isabella and Margaret were among the 30,000 women who signed the Women's Suffrage Petition which argued that women should have the same voting rights as men.

At the age of 24, she travelled to Rutherglen, Victoria, and on 26 August 1891 she was married in the Congregational Church to Thomas Alexander Ward Smiley, a 25-year-old widower who was a drilling contractor working at the time at nearby Gooramadda.

Marion, known as Marnie, was to become the mother of 11 children. The family lived a lot of their life at St Kilda but in her early married life Marnie moved home frequently as she followed her husband to country centres where he had drilling work.

One of their daughters, Jean (Smiley) Nixon, could remember stories that Marnie would have her babies at home with the help of a midwife; she never went to hospital for a birth. At first she would return to her parents' home for the births because generally she and her husband were living in very basic accommodation in country areas.

Another daughter, Jessie (Smiley) Dadswell, said she could remember her mother (Marnie) saying they stayed at one place where gold had been found. Her father Tom did not want to leave but he came home one day find the lino rolled up, the household goods packed and the family ready to go, as they were down to their last pennies.

In 1907, Tom Smiley left the family in Melbourne to work at Kapunda, South Australia. Marnie decided to follow, so she packed up and took her four young children on the boat from Melbourne to Adelaide. She later told her children the stewardess on the boat was very helpful, putting the youngest child Doug into a drawer from the cabin's chest of drawers, so he would not roll off the bed. From Adelaide Marnie then made her way across country to Kapunda where another child was born, with all the family, including the baby, sleeping in tents.

The nomadic way of life became more difficult as the family grew and her husband Tom eventually opened a butchers shop at 338 Inkerman Road, St Kilda. Marnie, Tom and the family lived in a two storey house at the back of the shop.

With a large family, Marnie would take the children swimming in summer time. The family would go to the old St Kilda salt water baths at the beach, swim all morning and then have some lunch. The children would get a tray with a pot of tea from the café for Marnie and they all shared sandwiches made before they left home.

Sometimes Marnie would take the children to the matinee session at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda.
Marion Harley Smiley
While Tom had the butchers shop, the family moved to a property at Murrumbeena where Tom also kept poultry. Tom also used to buy and sell houses, and Marnie found herself moving the family to homes in Oakleigh, Caulfield (two locations), and St Kilda (at least five homes). The third house in Hotham Street was designed by Marnie and Tom and it was only a short distance from East St Kilda Congregational Church which became an important part in the life of the family.

Marnie and Tom would often invite visitors from the country, or visiting church ministers, to join them for Sunday lunch, and on Sunday evenings Marnie - with help from the family - would provide meals for up to 20 as the children were encouraged to have their friends around.

For the summer school holidays, Marnie would rent a house at Black Rock and would take the younger children by train to Sandringham, and then by horse-drawn cart to Black Rock. The older children would visit at weekends when Marnie would cook a roast for the large family.

After their first daughter Doris was married in 1919, Marnie and Tom would make the long drive (about 450 kilometres on often-sandy roads) from Melbourne to Tempe in Victoria's mallee country where Doris and her husband Harry Wilson had a wheat farm.

Late in their lives, Marnie and Tom lived with Doris and Harry Wilson at their Glenhuntly, Melbourne home.

Tom Smiley died on 7 May 1951 at the age of 83, and Marnie died at Malvern on 9 April 1957 aged 86. Both were buried at Brighton Cemetery, in the one grave (Pres N 14) which is also the resting place of one of their children, Douglas Ward Smiley, and Tom's mother, Margaret Phoebe (Ward) Smiley.


Further information

Siblings of Marion Harley Bunn.



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