Huon, An Old Australian Family

Australian Town and Country Journal

17 July 1907

Huon, An old Australian family.

Six generations of Australians. On February 1, 1907, a little girl was born at Neutral Bay, Sydney, who was the first of the sixth generation of native-born Australians.

In very few, if any other, Australian families, are there six generations of Australian-born.

The descent of this child is traced in the following way:

In 1792, a Bourbon refugee, Marie Gabrielle Louis Huon de Querilloau fled from France to England during Robespierre's reign of terror.

His property was confiscated, and he afterwards came out to Australia in the regiment of which John Macarthur, of Camden, was the captain.

He obtained a grant of land from the Government, and settled at what is now Fairfield.

In 1797 his daughter, Ga Elizabeth Huon, was born, being the first native-born Australian in this family; and in 1813 she married Captain William Mitchell, a retired officer, who went in for sheep-farming near Bungonia.

This Captain William Mitchell and Elizabeth Huon, his wife, were the founders of the well-known Mitchell family of Albury and the Upper Murray.

Among other children, Captain and Mrs. Mitchell had a daughter Emma, who married Francis Rawdon Hume, son of Andrew Hamilton Hume, first Commissary-General, Emma Hume being the second generation of Australians.

Of this marriage was born a daughter, Mary, who married Robert Henry Kennedy, of Woonnaminta, one of the best-known of the pioneer squatting families.

Mrs. Kennedy was of the third generation of Australians.

Mrs. Kennedy's daughter became the wife of J. F. Kenyon, once of Yass, and for many years a police magistrate in New South Wales, and Mrs. Kenyon, was therefore the fourth in the line of Australian descent.

The next - i.e., the fifth-generation is represented by Mr. Cyril Kenyon, son of J. F Kenyon; and is his daughter, Mabel Joyce Hume Kenyon, who is the representative of the sixth generation of native-born Australians.

In view of the fact that an Australian type is likely to establish itself sooner or later, the records of another family with a long list of native-born parentage, would be interesting.

The history of the founder of the family would make good material for an Anthony Hope romance.

When the reign of terror in France was at its height, and the life of an aristocrat was not worth an hour's purchase, Marie Gabrielle Louis Huon de Querilleau and his wife left France as political fugitives, and took refuge in England, and his subsequent history was disclosed by a writer in the Melbourne "Argus" lately.

For the purposes of the concealment of his identity, Huon took the name of Louis Michel.

In that name he enlisted as a private in the army, and some few years later joined the New South Wales corps known as the 102nd Regiment, of which John Macarthur was captain.

With this regiment he embarked with the second, fleet bound for Sydney in 1790, just two years after the first penal settlement had been formed.

It is interesting to find that these two men were associated, considering the great influence each of them exercised in different ways upon the pastoral industry of the country. Captain Macarthur was the founder of the great fine-woolled flocks of Australia.

It did not take such a shrewd man as Captain Macarthur long to discover that at least one of the men in the ranks of his regiment was out of place there.

He quickly recognised that Private Louis Michel was qualified by breeding and education for better things than serving in the ranks of a penal settlement regiment, and the French refugee was given his discharge.

In due course, Huon - who had assumed his real name again on arrival in the colony, but throughout his life kept his family status and title a secret - took up land in the Campbelltown district, and devoted himself to pastoral pursuits.

Being intelligent, honorable in his dealings, and industrious, he succeeded in his business, and brought up a large family. Later in life he handed his holding over to his sons, and took up new country on the South Coast.

There he resided until 1829, when he disappeared in a mysterious manner. One day Huon started to walk from the Shoalhaven River district to Campbelltown to see his son, and spend a day or so with him.

It was not until a week later (there was no telegraphic system or mail in those days) that it was discovered that the old man had not reached his destination.

Then search parties were organised, and the densely timbered country was scoured daily for more than three weeks afterwards, but without success.

The only trace of Louis Huon found from that day to this was on a tree in one of the Shoalhaven gullies, not far from the coast. On this he had carved his initials with a pocket knife.

In his adopted country the French Royalist, whose fortunes had gone down with the fortunes of the Bourbons, had become a good bushman, and a successful pastoralist; but he appears to have lost his way and his life in the course of a journey lightly undertaken on foot.

Of course, he had to pass through rough, densely-timbered, wild country, and the probability, as was considered at the time, was that he died in one of the caves in the vicinity of the coast.

The secret of this man's identity was so well kept that lt was not disclosed until nearly three-quarters of a century after his death.

There was at least one document in French in the family, which threw the fullest and most definite of light on the subject, but it was only discovered accidentally - adhering to the bottom of a pile of family papers - within the last few years.

On being translated - a work undertaken at the Sydney University - the document was found to be a legally drawn deed of gift of the estate of his mother to Louis Huon, of Uxillean.

The reliability of the document has since been authenticated, and the identity of the man who died a lonely and tragic death in the Shoalhaven bush, and founded the pioneer families of Riverina, fully established as that of Huon.

Descendants of his, or connections, constituted the earliest of the band of pioneers in Southern Riverina.

The first of the pioneers in the Albury district, for instance, were the Huons, the Dights, and the Mitchells, and the whole of them were directly or indirectly related to the Huons; while some branches of the family are connected with the discoverer of the Murray (or Hume as it was called) - Hamilton Hume.

A son of Huon was the first man to acquire station property on the Victorian side of the Murray. While still carrying on his holding in the Campbelltown district, he became possessed of the Wodonga Station, which embraced the whole of the area on which the town of Wodonga now stands.

The management of the station (which was taken up about 10 years after Hume and Hovell made their historic journey of discovery) was en trusted to a younger brother of the owner; but later on he was superseded by his nephew, Mr. William Huon, now of Albury, and whose wife, curiously enough, is a niece of Hamilton Hume.

Originally the station was devoted to the breeding of cattle, which were sent to the South Australian market.

Later on, as the property was reduced by the incoming of population, it passed into the hands of Mr. William Huon, and was renamed De Kerilleau.

This gentleman has been in the district since 1846, and is one of the few surviving members of the band of spirited men who, when the whole country was wild bush and "life on the land" involved hardship and privation and daily peril, pushed out beyond the bounds of civilisation and marked the way for those who were to come after.

Although the Woradgory tribe - the blacks who roamed the country between the Murray and the Murrumbidgee in thousands - were not a savage or treacherous race, and yielded readily enough to kindly and tactful treatment, they were a source of considerable trouble to the early settlers.

It was found necessary to forbid them to carry firearms when visiting any of the stations; and still the Mitchells (Thurgoona Station, now Hawksview), the Dights (Bungowannah), the Huons (Wodonga), and the Ebdens (Bonegilla Park), had to be persistently watchful and firm in dealing with the aborigines.

The fine, fertile river flats were then covered in parts with a rank growth of rushes. Some of the best grazing land was cropped with rushes and reeds, which grew to a height of 8ft and 10ft.

When the mood took them, the blacks would spear the stock from the cover of these rushes; and on account of the cover afforded them, very little could be done in the way of reprisal.

The last of the Woradgery tribe died out at Messrs. Mitchell Brothers' Bringenbrong Station, on the Upper

Murray, where they had been treated with great kindness and consideration by the father of the present owner's - Mr. Thomas Mitchell.

It may be noted as significant, considering the popular notion nowadays of the utter worthlessness of the blacks, that the whole of the old pioneers, the men who had come into personal contact with them when the country was almost still in it its primeval state, spoke with more or less affection of the native race.

More than one of the white boys of the early days, learnt the language of the tribe, and spent many days of their time hunting and fishing with them, and obtaining a knowledge of their tribal habits and rites.

Probably this explains why the pioneer's had such influence over them and why the early settlers suffered but little from raids by blacks.