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Francis Buttner and Honora Liddy

Francis Buttner and Honora Liddy.   My Great Great Grandparents and parents of Margaret pictured above. 

Information from: "A History of Robert Wright and His Descendants in Australia" - edited by Chris Coleborn:  

Francis Buttner (32) and Honora Liddy (28) who were married in Leyburn in the Roman Catholic place of worship on 2 September 1864. Patrick and Mary Liddy were their two witnesses.  A daughter Mary Anne was born on 3 September 1865 but lived only a few years.  Margaret (my Great Grandmother) was born in April 1867.    

Honora died when she was only 32 years old.. When she was expecting her third child (at 32 yrs) she was putting up curtains in the attic of her house, preparing the baby's nursery, and tragically fell.  Complications from the fall led to Honora dying in childbirth.  Margaret was only 21 months old and was subsequently raised by her father Francis who never re-married.  


After Honora's death, Francis built a house and bookmakers shop almost opposite the Church of England on the corner as you turn into Leyburn.  He was a very good gardener, and had one flourishing both at the front and back of his shop/house.  There were grape trellises and vegetables, etc. which he gave mainly to his daughter, Margaret and her family. His shop was in the front and he had a combined kitchen, befroom/sitting room at the back.  The big front workroom had a large window looking straight out onto the road where you could see St. Augustine's Church.  

In 1895, Frances acquired by Conditional Selection a farm of about 150 acres just north of Leyburn and called it "Fernvale".  One of the adjoining farms of 34 acres belonged to his son-in-law, Robert Wright called "Thistledown".  Frances paid 18 pound 15 shillings to the government for the property.  It was freeholder in 1908.  Various members of the family were under the impression that Francis also owned other rural property, but as yet, no proof of this has turned up.  

Francis was very close to his daughter Margaret, and it is obvious there was a great deal of affection and warmth between them, some sweet consolation for the loss of his Honora.  He appears to have doted on Margaret and her family (12 children), making shoes free of charge for them, giving the children treats, supplying vegetables, etc.  Margaret, in turn, used to cook for him.  Jessie Wright can remember, as a young girl, the circus coming to town and the girls not having sufficient money to go, until "grandfather" gave them the treat of their lives, by giving them money to go.  he bought cases of fruit in and kept it on hand to give to the Wright children when they called in - which was often.  he loved to be with and talk with his grandchildren.  

On 12 June 1886 Robert Wright (36) and Margaret Buttner (19 and pictured here at that age) were married at St. Luke's Church of England in Toowoomba, Qld.    John Gentle and Catherine McLeod were best man and bridesmaid.  A special consent form stating Margaret Buttner's father's approval, had to be filled in before they could marry, seeing Margaret was under 21.  Phyllis (Wright) Thomas, their daughter was recorded as having a copy of the original Wedding Certificate.  I'm not sure where it is now.  When Robert first married, they lived with Francis (as Margaret was doing before her marriage).  The eldest children were born in his house, and their little boy, Robert, drowned in the creek at the back of the house.  Robert Wright builds a butcher's shop next to Francis' shop.

Francis Buttner was a short, stocky, man who, in later life, had a head of thick white hair receding at the front and a big flourishing white beard.  He retained his German (Saxon) accent, saying for example, "dis and dat" for "this and that".   He was always very clean in the house and was universally respected by the townspeople.  He was thought of as a real old gentleman, very well spoken and educated;  quite an old aristocrat with beautiful manners.  Francis neither drank nor smoked.  he had a German cobber who got mixed up in "the hills" called "Old Rosenberg", and used to play draughts with him.  Francis was a great draughts player.  


Francis may well have been Lutheran, but there being no such Church nearby, he identified with the Church of England, the closest denomination to the Lutherans.  He had a real respect for genuine Christianity and the things of God.  He always asked the Wright children whether they had been to Sunday school and talk to them about it.


He kept cows on his property that he milked, and made butter from.  He loved his cows and could call them to him by name.  Early each morning he would be up to pick a handful of prime grass and weeds out of his garden to take to the cows.


This fine old pioneer passed on when he was 86 years old.  Francis, according to one source, had an accident.   He was walking from his shop and home in Dove Street Leyburn, to his farm, when the horse drawn milk cart picked him up.  He was sitting in the back, and as the cart was going through the creek crossing it jolted, and he was thrown out, landing heavily on his head.  In any case, we are certain that it was after a four day illness that Francis died in Dove Street, Leyburn on 13 April 1918.  He was buried Church of England, leaving behind his years of love and care and all his worldly goods to his daughter Margaret and her family.      

Eventually Francis' workshop was demolished by Robert Coleborn (grandson) and wood from his shop went into a shop Robert renovated and extended into a family dwelling as well as a shop.  This building is still standing in Leyburn, and no doubt the wood (now over a hundred years old)  from Francis Buttner's old shop and house, is still there.  

Daughter Margaret's story continues... Click here

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