English born James Bugg arrived in Australia as a convict in 1826 and a year later was in the employ of the AACo. His experience as a shepherd and ability to read and write led to his assignment. In 1829 James was promoted to Overseer of Shepherds on the Gloucester Flats, then known as “Bugg’s Station”.1 As the station was located on Birrbay Country2, there were many interactions between the growing white population and First Nations people.
It is unknown how James and Birrbay woman Charlotte met but they had their first child Mary Ann in 1834,3 followed by a further seven children. The couple tried to marry in the Church of England but their application was denied because Aboriginal people were deemed “not Christian”.4 The commitment they had to one other was clear, in 1835 when James was bashed unconscious outside his hut by two men, Charlotte intervened by firing a musket shot over their heads. They eventually married in 1848 when a travelling minister, Rev Purvis, conducted the rites.5
In 1855 James’ employment with the AACo was terminated after 28 years of service. The reason given was drunkenness, however this dismissal coincided with the AACo’s decision to cease sheep operations in the area. Similar terminations happened to other Company overseers.
The family moved to Monkerai where James leased land and established “Bugg’s Farm”. Charlotte died in 1861 and was buried on the farm.6 James died in 1879 aged 77 years and is buried in the cemetery of St John’s Anglican Church, Stroud.7 Charlotte and James’ story continues through their descendants. Their first daughter Mary Ann would become the partner of renowned bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 John Heath, Goori-Bugg Dreaming, 2022, p.52 & 67.
2 Biripi / Birrpai.
3 NSW BDM, Birth Index for Mary A Bugg, No. 1494/1834.
4 John Heath, Goori-Bugg Dreaming, 2002, p. 98.
5 John Heath, Goori-Bugg Dreaming, 2022, p.120.
6 John Heath, Goori-Bugg Dreaming, 2022, p.137.
7 NSW BDM, Death Index for James Bugg, No. 8485/1879.