Thursday, January 10, 2013

Old Logic

The surname Burgoyne is a reminder that to the south and east of Radnorshire lay districts which once had a decidedly French character - the name means a native of Bourgogne or Burgendy.  In Radnorshire, at least, it was often spelt Burgwyn or, as in the case of young Thomas of the Gobe* farm christened at Gladestry parish church on 17th June 1827, Burgwynne.

By the time Thomas reached Australia in 1849 he had a young wife, a sound knowledge of all aspects of the building trade - a speciality of his family - and was spelling his name as Burgoyne.  You can read more about him in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, here.  To this we can only add that once, when confronted by a party of aborigine warriors, he impressed upon them the superiority of European weaponry by shooting their dog.  Thomas led his Independent (Country) Party in the South Australian assembly for 30 years, attributing his eventual defeat at the age of 88 to the fact that many hundreds of itinerant workers, engaged in building a railway, were on the electoral register.

* Does anyone know the origin of this placename?

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