My grandfather, Charles Bernard B. McBurney (1890-1943), was a founder member and trumpeter with
The Ballina Jazz Band. This band, founded by David Samuel Harris (aka "Kewpie Harris"), was one of Australia's earliest jazz ensembles, performing regularly
from 1919 to 1951. Charles McBurney died during WW II while
on active duty, helping to resist the attempted invasion of
Australia by the military-fascist regime of Japan, and is buried in
the Australian War Graves cemetery in Casino, NSW, Australia. My great-uncle Cecil C. Sexton (1916-1942) also fought Japanese colonialism and was killed
during the Battle of Singapore; he is buried in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore.
Other McBurneys include:
- My grandfather's grandfather Charles
Finlay McBurney (Belfast 1828-1899 Balmain), sea captain, master of the barque
Fury, ship-wrecked at Sealers
Cove, Rabbit Island, Victoria, en route from Newcastle (New South Wales) to Melbourne with a cargo of coal, 26 August 1869. He is also
being the captain of The Prince Regent, which docked in Sydney from Auckland on 6 June 1866.
- One of my great-great-great-grandfathers was William Graham Peverley (Sunderland, UK 1811–1893 Balmain, Sydney), who established a ship-building business in East Balmain,
Sydney, around 1853. The boatyard's location was east of St Mary’s Street and south of Pearsons Wharf, an area which nowadays is a
harbourside park, Illoura Reserve.
- William Peverley and Charles F. McBurney were jointly responsible for the introduction of buffaloes to Australia, in 1857, via the shipwreck near present-day Wyndham, Western Australia, of the
barque, the Florence Street.
- Another of my great-great-grandfathers was William Grant Law (Williams River, NSW 1847-1936 Mullumbimby), an original selecter (1881) on Mullumbimby Creek in far northern New
South Wales, and dairy-farming pioneer, timber-getter, and bullocky. His bullock teams collected cedar
from the Brunswick and Richmond valleys and took it to be loaded onto ships across the surf at Brunswick Heads.
- Sir MacBurney, one of the 60 Knights participating in the Tournament, supervised by Geoffrey Chaucer on the orders of Richard II, held at Smithfield, London, in 1390.
- Charles Burney, FRS (1726-1814), composer, musician and music historian.
Charles and his twin sister Susanna were the last of 20 children, and born to the second wife, of James Macburney (1678-1749), dancer, violinist and
painter, who changed the family name to Burney at the time of Charles' birth. James had an older son by his first wife, a son also named James
Burney (1710-1789), who was organist at St Mary's Church, Shrewsbury,
for 54 years (1732-1786).
For a period, Charles Burney and his family lived in Isaac Newton's former house at 35 St Martin's Street, Leicester Square, London.
Among Charles' children were Esther (1749-1832), harpsichordist, who married her cousin Charles Rousseau Burney (1747-1819), also a keyboardist and violinist;
Fanny (Madame d'Arblay, 1752-1840), novelist and playwright;
Rear Admiral James Burney, FRS (1750-1821), naval historian and sailor (he twice sailed around the world with Captain James Cook RN);
Rev. Charles Burney FRS (1757-1817), classical scholar;
Charlotte Ann (Mrs Broome, 1761-1838), novelist; and Sarah Harriet (1772-1844), novelist.
Charles' nephew, Edward Francisco Burney (1760-1848), artist and violinist, was a brother to Charles Rousseau Burney, both sons of Richard
Burney (1723-1792), an elder brother to Charles. (Main sources: ODNB and K. S. Grant: "Charles Burney", Grove Music Online, Accessed 2006-12-10.)
In 1793, Fanny Burney married Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Piochard D'Arblay (1754-1818), an emigre French aristocrat and soldier, and
adjutant-general to Lafayette. Their
son, Alexander d'Arblay (1794-1837), was a poet and keen chess-player, and was 10th wrangler in the Mathematics Tripos at Cambridge in 1818, where he was
a friend of fellow-student Charles Babbage. He was also a member of Babbage's Analytical Society (forerunner of the Cambridge
Philosophical Society), which sought to introduce modern analysis, including Leibnizian notation for the differential calculus, into
mathematics teaching at Cambridge. d'Arblay was ordained and served as founding minister of Camden Town
Chapel (later, All Saints Camden) from 1824-1837, and then served briefly at Ely. The
founding organist at Camden Town Chapel was Samuel Wesley (1766-1837).
Not everyone was a fan of clan Burney. Here is William Hazlitt:
"There are whole families who are born classical, and are entered in the heralds' college of reputation by the right of consanguinity. Literature,
like nobility, runs in the blood. There is the Burney family. There is no end of it or its pretensions. It produces wits, scholars,
novelists, musicians, artists in 'numbers numberless.' The name is alone a passport to the Temple of Fame. Those who bear it are free of Parnassus
by birthright. The founder of it was himself an historian and a musician, but more of a courtier and man of the world than either. The
secret of his success may perhaps be discovered in the following passage, where, in alluding to three eminent performers on different instruments,
he says: 'These three illustrious personages were introduced at the Emperor's court,' etc.; speaking of them as if they were foreign
ambassadors or princes of the blood, and thus magnifying himself and his profession. This overshadowing manner carries nearly everything before it,
and mystifies a great many. There is nothing like putting the best face upon things, and leaving others to
find out the difference. He who could call three musicians 'personages' would himself play a personage through life, and
succeed in his leading object. Sir Joshua Reynolds, remarking on this passage, said: 'No one had a greater respect than he had for his
profession, but that he should never think of applying to it epithets that were appropriated merely to external rank and distinction.' Madame
d'Arblay, it must be owned, had cleverness enough to stock a whole family, and to set up her cousin-germans,
male and female, for wits and virtuosos to the third and fourth generation. The rest have done nothing, that I know of, but keep up the
name." (On the Aristocracy of Letters, 1822)
- Robert Ross McBurney (1837-1897), first paid
administrator and long-standing member of the YMCA in New York City. McBurney was born in Castle Blayney, County Monaghan, in what is now
Northern Ireland, the son of a doctor and from a staunchly protestant family. He emigrated to New York in 1854, and served the YMCA for 34 years. The YMCA branch at
West 14th Street in Lower Manhattan is named for him.
Heber McBurney (1845-1913), BA (Harvard) (1866),
surgeon and developer of the procedure for
diagnosis of appendicitis, and removal of the appendix. Here is
of his 1889 paper to the New York Surgical Society. Charles McBurney was also a member of the medical team which treated US President William McKinley
following his assassination; the team's official report published in the Buffalo Medical Journal (November 1901, 57: 271-293) is here.
- His brother, Henry Horton McBurney (1843-1875), BA (Harvard) (1862),
student of Adolphe Wurtz in Paris and of Robert Bunsen in
Heidelberg, and first husband of Susan Sturgis (1846-1923, married 1867), a woman who was cousin of the first husband
of the mother of George Santayana; Mrs McBurney (from 1876, Mrs Henry Bigelow Williams) is
briefly mentioned in Santayana's autobiography, Persons and Places (London, UK:
Constable, 1944, p. 80).
- Andrew R. McBurney, Lieutenant-Governor of Ohio, USA, 1866-1868.
- Mona McBurney (1862-1932), composer and the first
woman graduate in music from an Australian University, or her brother,
Samuel McBurney (1847-1909),
music educator and linguist.
- James Edwin McBurney (1868-1955),
artist and muralist, founder of an art school in Chicago, IL, and WPA painter of public murals, including three at
Palmer Park, Chicago. His landscapes
have a Hudson Valley School feel to them.
- James Howard
argumentation theorist and third
Dean of the School of Speech at Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA. Born in South Dakota, he graduated in 1925
from Yankton College, SD, obtained a Master's degree in economics and business administration in 1929 from the University of
South Dakota, and a PhD in 1935 in Speech and General Linguistics from the University of Michigan. After post-doctoral
work at Columbia University in 1936, he joined Northwestern in 1936, and was promoted to full Professor in 1941. He was
appointed Dean of the School of Speech in 1942, retiring in 1972. In 1949, he was President of the National Communication
Association of the USA. He is pictured
at his weekly TV program on WGN, Chicago, in the 1950s. He hosted this TV program, Your Right to Say It, from 1956 to 1972.
He also moderated a Chicago radio program, Reviewing Stand, from 1936 to 1972. He co-authored seven books about speech
- Alvin McBurney (Alvino Rey) (1911-2004),
inventor of the pedal steel guitar.
- Samuel Stuart McBurney, statistician at the Australian National University, Canberra (in the same Department where I studied), public servant, and Member of the Order of Australia (1988).
- Australian actress, Judy McBurney (1948- ).
- US Congressman for the Florida 16th, Rep. Charles McBurney (1957- ), Republican.
- Irish logistics company, and Irish and International Haulier of the Year 2006, McBurney Transport.
Department of Informatics
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS
Email: peter.mcburney [at] kcl.ac.uk