|Fred Bust, c.1898|
It appears that Robert then abandoned Harriett and their children, and took up with Fred’s mother, Mary Mason. Whether this happened in
or whether Robert escaped his marital responsibilities by fleeing to the South Pacific and met Mary along the way, is unknown. It is also not known whether Robert Bust and Mary Mason ever officially married, though Mary is listed as Robert’s wife on the England birth records of their daughters Eliza and Mary. New Zealand
Robert Bust arrived in
in the early 1840s and set about earning his living as a farmer and a butcher. His name appears on the 1844 Auckland list of jurors and the Southern Cross newspaper of 12 August 1843 reports the arrival of the ship the Sisters from Hobart with cargo including ‘Leicester Ewes selected by Mr Bust’. The 11 March 1844 edition of the newspaper carries the following notice: Auckland
R. D. Bust, having commenced business as Butcher, in Queen-street, where he will keep a good supply of the best Beef, Mutton, and Pork, and pay great attention to cleanliness, respectfully solicits a share of public patronage. Shipping promptly supplied. A good supply of excellent Vegetables, fresh from the Garden; Butter, Eggs and Poultry, supplied on the shortest notice.
For Robert and Mary Bust, and daughters Eliza and Mary Jane, life in
was good, business was booming and prospects looked positive. Then, early in 1845, an attack by anti-government Maori on the Auckland Bay of Island's town of (now Russell) led to unsettled times. Like many early settlers, Robert Bust believed there was a genuine threat to the safety of his family and his future business in Kororareka , so he decided to return home. The Southern Cross of 8 March 1845 lists the Bust family among the passengers departing for Auckland Wellington on the barque Caledonia, and all four remained aboard when that ship departed for , according to a report in the New Zealand Gazette dated 10 May 1845. London
Unfortunately the good times did not last long for Robert Bust and Mary Mason following their return to
. First, the auctioneering partnership he’d set up was dissolved, then Mary died on 24 March 1849 at Reading in Berkshire, and the following year Robert’s auctioneering business in Reading went bankrupt. As Robert had three young children to care for, it seems hardly surprising that he very soon took up with partner number three, Harriett Dreweatt. Just over a year after Mary’s death, on 29 June 1850, they were married in the England Holy Trinity Church at Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Almost immediately after their wedding, Robert, Harriett and his three children emigrated, aboard the James Gibb, this time to Australia, arriving in late in 1850. Melbourne
So, by the time he was just four years old, Fred Bust had lost his birth mother, gained a stepmother and moved half way round the world to
. There his father was involved in sheep farming and auctioneering, and Fred very soon had six more brothers and sisters to play with. During 1861–62 Fred’s father served as the first Town Clerk of the Australia Melbourne suburb of Brighton, but he was not a success in the position, and this was probably the reason the family emigrated again, in 1863, this time settling in . Dunedin, New Zealand
Fred was then seventeen, and he assisted his father Robert in business as a butcher and auctioneer. Robert obviously had extensive knowledge of farming and animal husbandry as, in December 1863, he published a small book entitled New Zealand versus the World as a Long Wool Producing Country. The book contains ‘calculations, explanatory remarks and data’ by ‘a practical sheepbreeder of English and Colonial Experience’, and expressed Robert’s opinions of the most suitable grasses and sheep for
conditions. Local authorities were certainly impressed by his farming knowledge as, in 1864, they appointed him Market Inspector for the New Zealand , according to the Otago Provincial Government Gazette of 31 August. province of Otago
Unfortunately the Bust auctioneering partnership went bankrupt in September 1866, so Fred tried his hand mining on the
North Otago goldfields. That venture was also short-lived, and by the time he was 20 years of age Fred was back living in Oamaru. There he joined the Oamaru Rifles, and when he went to live in briefly around 1867–8, he was a member of the North Shore Volunteer Cavalry. He served in the militia at Tauranga in 1869, and apparently ‘had some lively experiences hunting Te Kooti and his head’. Fred later reported that he had been awarded the New Zealand War medal for his service during the Mohaki Massacre but, in fact, the Defence department had rejected his 1904 application, as too much had time had elapsed since the war to prove he had actually ‘served under fire’. Auckland
By the end of 1869 Fred had been discharged from the militia and returned to
Dunedin, where in January the following year he married Jessie Naismith Hastie, daughter of Alexander Hastie and Margaret Hanna, settlers from . Fred remained in Scotland until late 1874, then moved to Oamaru where he opened a butcher shop. He rejoined his old volunteer corps, the Oamaru Rifles, and was at this time a keen athlete and fine rifle shot. With his wife, he was also an active worker in the Baptist Dunedin Province during these years. church of Otago
In 1883 Fred was declared bankrupt, but he must have secured other employment as the family remained in Oamaru until the beginning of 1886, when he and Jessie and their seven children moved to Whangarei. There Fred started another butchery business with Mr Harrison, one of his sister Eliza’s in-laws. Fred joined the local Rifle Volunteers, and again took an active part in the social and political events of the district.
By April 1887 though the Busts had moved again, this time to
. Fred joined the local City Guards, and became a member of the Masonic fraternity, and it was during these years in Auckland that Fred came into public prominence. Like many New Zealanders who suffered during the depression of the 1880s, Fred recognised that workers needed to be united in their demands for better wages and conditions, so he joined the local Butchers’ Auckland Union. He rose quickly through the ranks, serving as secretary of the Auckland Journeyman Butchers’ Society during 1890–91 and as secretary of the Auckland Trades and Labour Council during the 1890 Maritime Strike. During these years he was frequently lampooned by the cartoonist in a local newspaper, the New Zealand Observer and Free Lance, as the illustrations here show.
Riding the tide of his public prominence, Fred sought nomination as a Labour Member of the House of Representatives in the 1890 general election, but he failed to secure enough votes. Soon afterwards, because of his knowledge of butchery, Fred worked with government minister William Rees on drafting legislation for the Slaughterhouse Act Amendment Act of 1891. However, when Rees subsequently recommended Fred for the newly created slaughterhouse inspector position, the deal was exposed by the Observer newspaper and Fred suffered much negative publicity. This public humiliation was probably the reason why he suddenly changed careers in 1892 and moved to the West Coast of the
South Island to take up a position as prison warder at the Hokitika gaol.
|Wellington Conciliation Board. At left: Fred Bust, |
president of the Operatives Butchers'
By 1899 though Fred had returned from this self-imposed exile and was living in
, where he was again involved in the meat industry. He served on the Wellington Trades Council and as secretary of the Wellington Butchers’ Wellington Union, though resigned from both positions in January 1901 on starting his own business. In 1904 he joined the New Zealand Veterans’ Association, and in 1906 unsuccessfully petitioned the Defence department for the award of a long service medal for his membership in the various provincial volunteer units; his service was not contiguous and amounted to less than the required number of years.
In 1907 the Bust family returned to
, and Fred again became involved in the union movement. He served as secretary of the Auckland Slaughtermen’s Auckland Union until 1910, and was a fervent supporter of the move towards compulsory arbitration. As he wrote in an article in the Auckland Star in March 1907: ‘What we want as workers is industrial peace and finality, not peace at any price, but peace brought about by moral suasion, by fair, legal conciliation.’ He was an active member of the pro-arbitration Auckland and Suburban Local Bodies’ Labourers' Union, representing the union at the Court of Conciliation, helping to organise events like a fund-raising concert for the victims of 1914 Huntly Mine disaster, and serving as the Union’s vice president during 1913–14.
|Ellerslie Municipal Band. Fred Bust is the elderly gent, |
pictured at the extreme right
In 1912 at the age of 66 Fred gave up his career in the butchery business and became weighbridge master at Auckland City Council’s garbage destructor. He was elected to the Ellerslie Town Board for the 1915–17 term, and his last public effort was the establishment of the brass band for that district.
He died at his home in Ellerslie, on 7 March 1919, after a short illness. He had been a prominent leader of the Labour movement and a man of great energy and enthusiasm. As one of his granddaughters wrote soon after his death, ‘whatever he put his hand to, he did with all his might.’ Fred joined his wife and 2 children in the family plot at
, and left behind 3 sons, 5 daughters, 37 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. Purewa Cemetery