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Faunce, Alured Tasker (1808–1856)

by Marcus De Laune Faunce

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Alured Tasker Faunce (1808-1856), soldier and police magistrate, was the elder son of Major-General Alured Dodsworth Faunce of Clifton, near Bristol, England, and his wife Anna Maria, née Goddard. His grandfather, Major Thomas Faunce, was wounded at Quebec under Wolfe and became town major of Quebec when it was occupied. At 16 Faunce entered the army as an ensign in the 4th Regiment, in which his father and grandfather had served. Accompanied by his brother, Lieutenant Thomas Faunce, he arrived in Sydney with the headquarters of the regiment in the Clyde in August 1832. While senior captain and adjutant of the regiment he retired from the army on 1 October 1836 to become the police magistrate at Brisbane Water.

He soon gained the nickname of 'Ironman Faunce', and was frequently attacked by the Sydney Gazette and its editor George Cavenagh, whom he later sued for libel. His notoriety mainly stemmed from what was known as the 'Blindberry' case. On rather flimsy evidence he accused three leading citizens of complicity in stealing a cow named Blindberry. Two of the accused were also magistrates, one of them serving on the bench with him. The case excited wide interest in the colony, especially as the accused were imprisoned in irons under primitive conditions and their houses were searched without warrant before they were taken to Sydney. The autocratic behaviour of Faunce seems to have derived from his youth, ignorance and inexperience of civil life and law, and from his briefing before taking up his difficult post. In April 1837 at the trials in Sydney it was suggested that Governor Sir Richard Bourke, displeased with the general professional standards of magistrates, had advised Faunce that a firm magisterial hand was needed against the cattle thieves in the Brisbane Water district. Faunce was reprimanded by the Supreme Court and, in subsequent suits brought by the 'Blindberry' victims, had to pay £1500 damages, which forced him to sell his commission. Throughout the case he appeared to have had the support of Bourke who, in one of his last dispatches before leaving for England, strongly recommended to the secretary of state 'that all expenses in the three trials should be defrayed by the local Government'. This did nothing to increase the governor's popularity and the Sydney Gazette exploded with more editorials, particularly after the 'Man of Iron' was appointed to Queanbeyan as its salaried police magistrate.

Faunce arrived at Queanbeyan in November 1837, having obtained the grant by purchase of 810 acres (328 ha) near the town and 1012 acres (410 ha) at Windellama. He held the first sitting of the Queanbeyan, Molonglo, Gundaroo and Monaro bench on 23 February 1838. His subsequent magisterial record was active but unblemished, and he became a popular and respected figure in the growing community of the Limestone Plains. While playing with the Queanbeyan and Ginninderra cricket clubs on the old race-course at Queanbeyan he died suddenly on 26 April 1856.

On 27 January 1835 at Liverpool he married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel J. K. Mackenzie, 4th Regiment, who also settled in the Monaro district, near Braidwood. They had six sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Rev. Canon Alured Dodsworth Faunce, served for some forty years in the diocese of Goulburn.

A painting of Alured Tasker Faunce, done in Sydney in 1832, is held by his family.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Swancott, The Brisbane Water Story, vol 4 (Woy Woy, 1955)
  • family papers (privately held).

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

Marcus De Laune Faunce, 'Faunce, Alured Tasker (1808–1856)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/faunce-alured-tasker-2036/text2515, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 29 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

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