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Alfred John (Jack) Bussell (1865–1940)

Alfred Bussell, n.d.

Alfred Bussell, n.d.

Mr. Alfred John Bussell, who died at Busselton on August 8, in his 76th year, was the eldest member of the Bussell family, pioneers of the Vasse, and a son of Alfred Pickmore Bussell, who accompanied John Garrett Bussell, the founder of Cattle Chosen, and Charles and Vernon Bussell to Western Australia in 1829. The late Mr. A. J. Bussell was an authority on south-West native customs. Just before his death he completed a native vocabulary in collaboration with his niece, Dr. Buller Murphy. This is being prepared for publication. Articles on native legends written by him appeared from time to time in the West Australian.

The late Mr. Bussell was born in the South-west and lived in Western Australia all his life except for three years at college in Adelaide. His grandfather was William Marchant Bussell, curate of St. Mary's Anglican Church, Portsea, Hants., who died in 1820, leaving a widow and nine children, six boys and three girls. Alfred Pickmore Bussell, Mr. A. J. Bussell's father, was four at the time. Nearly ten years later he came to this State with three of his brothers. He had been a student at Westminster and his education was continued here by John Garrett Bussell, a graduate of Oxford.

The brothers settled first at Augusta, but later moved to the Vasse, where they gave their name to Busselton. They took up a grant of 3,700 acres in 1832 on a site which was called Cattle Chosen because it was found while they were hunting for stray cattle. The Crown grant for Sussex Location 1 was issued to John, Charles, Vernon and Alfred Bussell in 1841. After the brothers had settled at the Vasse they were joined by Lennox Bussell, another brother, and the womenfolk of the family and for about ten years they lived as a family group with John Garrett Bussell as the head. The story of their life there has been told by the late Professor Shann in Cattle Chosen, made up largely from letters written by members of the family.

Dissolution of the family group came about through marriages and Alfred Pickmore Bussell, who became an M.L.C. during the administration of Governor Weld, was concerned in the establishment of Ellensbrook and Wallcliffe. These properties did not pass to Mr. A. J. Bussell, who married twice. He is survived by a widow, six sons and one daughter. His eldest son, Alfred Joseph Bussell, first lieutenant in the 31st Field Artillery, was killed in action in 1918, after having been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in the field.

The late Mr. Bussell was 17 years of age when he returned to this State from the North Adelaide Grammar School and he went to the North-west. His first job was droving cattle and he took one mob from Roebourne to Roebuck Bay, to stock the country there. Then for several years he managed a station near Broome for Mr. J. Ellery. Shortly after, he returned to the south West; and the gold rush then attracted him to Coolgardie. He and a companion set out to ride overland from Busselton to Coolgardie via the Wagin country. About half-way across, his companion wanted to return and Mr. Bussell had to go back to Busselton with him. He then set out on his own account and arrived safely at Coolgardie, after about nine weeks leisurely travelling. He saw natives en route but had no trouble with them. Prospecting failed to bring him any adequate return, so he took a job with other miners and worked in this way at Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Kanowna, Kurnalpi and Southern Cross. His next venture was in the railway service, where he remained for 7½ years, leaving it to go surveying with his brother-in-law, Mr. Terry, and later, with Government Surveyor Brown. For many years he lived in Busselton.

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'Bussell, Alfred John (Jack) (1865–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

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