Thomas Bury

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Thomas Bury was a journalist with the pseudonym 'Tom Touchstone'. He was born on 25 December 1838 in Dublin, son of John Francis Bury, merchant, and his wife Rosanna, née Feelind. Bury was attracted to Australia by gold and left Britain in October 1854 on the Champion of the Seas, carrying 1100 passengers. On the voyage Bury wrote for the ship's paper, reputedly the first ever printed on a clipper ship. He settled in Victoria, working at various jobs, wood-splitting, fencing, prospecting, and sending occasional contributions to newspapers. His associations with the Ballarat Courier began in the late 1870s or early 1880s and continued through his final illness (he had suffered for a long time from dropsy and asthma), during which he was assisted by an amanuensis. His last column appeared three days before his death. A journalistic venture on his own, the Touchstone, began late in 1883 but lasted for only a few editions.[1]

Thomas Bury was a member of the Old Colonists' Association.[2]

He died on 06 November 1900.


Largely at his instigation statues of Robert Burns and other literary figures were erected in Ballarat in the 1880s.[3]


DEATH OF "TOM TOUCHSTONE." - Tuesdey Nov. 6. Mr. Thomas Bury, “Tom Touchstone of the Courier, a well-known local journalist, died this afternoon. He was about 70 years of age, unmarried, and was a very old identity of Ballarat.[4]
DEATH OF A JOURNALIST. - Mr. Thomas Bury, a well-known and popular Ballarat journalist, who for many years contributed to the Courier under the nom de plume of ' Tom Touchstone.' died last week at his residence, Wen douree, after a long illnes. The deceased gentleman, who was about 70 years- of age, was unmarried. In the early days of the colony he led a roving life, spending much time in gold digging. Mr. Bury, who was of remarkable personality, possessed the best private library in Ballarat. He was well informed on international and other subjects, and was frequently appealed to as an authority on various matters.[5]

See also

Ballarat Eight Hours Day Committee

The Eight Hour Day Movement

Mary Hassell, sister

James Meek

Calligraphers and Illuminators


The testimonial to Mr. T. Bury ("Tom Touchstone ), which I mentioned in a former letter was being got up, has taken the form of an illuminated address, accompanied by a purse of sovereigns. The presentation took place at Craig's Hotel on last Monday evening. His Worship the Mayor of the city occupied the chair, and among those present 'were the Hon. J. P. Macpherson, M.L.C., Hon. E. Morey, M.L.C., Lieut.-Col. Smith, M.L.A., the Mayor of the town, Mr. E. Murphy, M.L.A., and Messrs. M. Butterly, W. H. Uren, J. W. Kirton, M.L.A's., and the Rev. Dr. Delany and Rev. J. F. Rogers. The Mayor said he was pleased to make the presentation to their guest in recognition of the esteem in which he was held by the citizens. His Worship, after wishing Mr. Bury a pleasant voyage, presented him; on behalf of the subscribers, with a parse contain ing!20 sovereigns. The recipient, in thanking the citizens for their, handsome gift, said he would always "do his best" for Ballarat. Lieut.-Col. Smith, M.L.A., the Hon. J. P. Macpherson, M.L.C., Mr. E. Murphy, M.L.A., Mr. [[W. M. Acheson], Rev. Dr. Delany, Bey. J.F. Rogers, and other gentlemen, spoke in eulogistic terms of Mr Bury. The address was beautifully illuminated by Messrs. Luke and Gladman. Mr. Bury left Ballarat on last Tuesday.[6]


  1. Joseph Jones, 'Bury, Thomas (1838–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 12 August 2015.
  2. Ballarat Star, 3 Mar 1890.
  3. Joseph Jones, 'Bury, Thomas (1838–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 12 August 2015.
  4. Bendigo Independent, 7 November 1900.
  5. albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 16 November 1900.
  6. Melbourne Advocate, 29 March 1890.

Further Reading

External links

Australian Dictionary of Biography -

Portrait of Thomas Bury -

--Clare K.Gervasoni 17:23, 12 August 2015 (AEST)

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