The Way We Were with John Taylor: Home and Away

John Taylor
John Taylor

Educated at Queen’s College, Cambridge, in 1838 the Reverend Stephen Davies, curate of Bow Brickhill, wrote a book entitled ‘Young Men; or an appeal to the several classes of society on their behalf’.

In fact, in those days of class division the reverend represented one end of the social spectrum, while at the other end in the village were the Mundy family, earning a meagre living as farm labourers. Yet due to the industrial revolution, farm mechanisation increasingly reduced the need for such labour.

And in 1844, via a free passage, George Mundy, his wife Mary, and their sons Henry and John, sought a new life in Australia. Here they were free from social division, and after shepherding for the first five years they acquired sufficient money to buy not only their own home in Geelong but also their own farm stock.

Down Under Henry also developed a passion for learning, and spent much of his time and earnings on books to educate himself on many subjects.

But he was no saint; and in fact “carted and traded illegal grog in Ballarat, in collusion with corrupt police, and was in Ballarat when the fabled Eureka Stockade rebellion broke out.”

This extract is from the book A Young Australian Pioneer Henry Mundy, which Henry himself wrote at the age of 80 in lucid prose and flowing handwriting.

From Henry’s great-grandson, Harold, a transcript came into the possession of Les Hughes, whose father had been Harold’s neighbour. Intrigued by the story, on a visit to Bow Brickhill Les met several residents who became as enthused as he was, and by their combined efforts the book was published.

The quality production is fully illustrated in colour, and provides a fascinating insight into life both in Bow Brickhill at a time of agricultural depression, and in the pioneering days of those who ventured to seek a new life in the sun.

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