46 - Editorial
11:49AM BST - Thursday, 11 October 2012
Contributed by: Alan Bunting
Many surnames derive from occupations of yesteryear — miller, cooper, saddler and so on. Bunting cannot be readily categorised in that way. Apart from its well-known meanings of a bird or type of flag (or flag material), it can be the participle of the verb 'to bunt', a baseball stroke which has connections with the more common word 'butt'.
It is perhaps not surprising then that researchers into the history of different Bunting families find their ancestors engaged in a very wide variety of occupations. That variety is often to be found in the life story of a single individual. In the 19th Century especially, work was even harder to come by than it is today, and Buntings took up whatever trades offered them an opportunity to earn a crust. Planning a lifetime career was frequently not an option.
In this issue of Gone A-Hunting you can read about a William Bunting who, 150 or so years ago, growing up in an agricultural community, turned his hand to general farming work, but then became a more specialised 'wool stapler'. But then along came an opportunity for William to take on an agency for an insurance company.
Another William, featured in Frank Bunting's article in this issue, who also came from farming stock, this time in Northern Ireland, emigrated to Australia where his initial occupation was described as a lowly 'farm servant'. But the family line took a distinctly upward turn with one of his descendents earning a knighthood and becoming Australian High Commissioner to the UK.
Frank discovered yet another William in his home state of Victoria who had been born in England in 1821, but through his misdemeanours, was transported to Australia in a convict ship. He nevertheless seemingly failed to mend his ways and was accused of various thieving offences down under.
In the East End of London, in the early years of the 20th Century, life was hard for the majority of the population, one of whom was Jack Bunting, whose tragically short life is recounted by his granddaughter Liz Card. When worthwhile jobs in civvy street were scarce and poorly paid, military service was an understandably tempting option for a young man. Jack enlisted in the Mercantile Marine at the outbreak of war in 1914 and died in action when his boat was sunk by the Germans.
No greater contrast could be found than Keith Fowler's grandfather Henry Bunting, whose whole working life was devoted to the foundry business, where he became a pillar of society in the Derby area. A few centuries earlier and he might have acquired the surname 'Founder' or 'Foundryman', .although the technique of casting of iron would not have been developed back then. Instead, his membership of the Bunting 'clan' enables us to read of his worthy role in his local community.