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Bourne, Robert (1793–1871)

Robert Bourne was ordained a minister at Surrey Chapel in London on 30 September 1816. He was appointed by the London Missionary Society to the South Seas and left with his wife Ann for Hobart Town on 20 March 1817. After the birth of their son Robert they continued on to Sydney where they spent about five months assisting the evangelistic endeavours of both the Anglican and Wesleyan ministries. In September the mission party left for the South Sea Islands. The ship arrived at Eimeo, one of the Windward Islands in French Polynesia on 17 November 1817, a year after it left England.

Robert established his mission in Tahaa, one of the Society Islands. The Bournes spent ten years in their missionary work at Tahaa; six of their ten children were born there. On 11 November 1827, the family left Tahiti for Sydney, New South Wales. Robert became rector at the Pitt Street Methodist Church, Sydney. In 1829 Robert severed his connection with the London Missionary Society and the family returned to England. Leaving his wife and younger children in London, Robert and his fourteen year old son, Robert Ebenezer, returned to Sydney in May 1831 aboard the Rifleman. Robert had formed a business partnership with Charles Appleton before leaving for England. Upon his return to Sydney Robert assumed full management of the business, establishing a drapery store in Pitt Street. He later joined with his son-in-law, George Chisholm, in a drapery business, which was known as Bourne and Chisholm. Ann Bourne and the other children joined Robert in Sydney in August 1832.

Robert and Ann moved to Victoria in about 1847 where Robert continued his mercantile pursuits in Koroit until 1853. The family then moved to Brisbane where Robert took up a position with his son-in-law, George Raff. Raff, who was married to Harriet Sealey Bourne, was a merchant, sugar-grower and politician in Carbrook, Queensland. Robert helped found the Wharf Street Congregational Church in Brisbane in 1859. A prominent member of various philanthropic organisations, he was also Secretary of the Queensland Board of Education from June 1860 to January 1870. He died at his home in Leichhardt Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane on 1 June 1871 at age 78 and was buried in the Brisbane General Cemetery, Toowong, Brisbane. Ann Bourne died seven years later on 9 December 1878 at age 86. She was buried with Robert at the Toowong Cemetery.

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Citation details

'Bourne, Robert (1793–1871)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/bourne-robert-29579/text36466, accessed 24 April 2019.

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