antonio cuneo – centenarian

The Advertiser, Saturday 19 January 1929, page 17


The death has occurred of a former resident of Binalong, Mr. Anthony Cuneo, aged 100, at his daughter’s residence at Marrickville. Coming to Australia when he was only 12 years old, he settled at Binalong in 1858. He met with many hardships and had encounters with the bush rangers, Dunn, Gilbert, and Ben Hall. He was also present at the Lambing Flat diggings. He started in business as a baker and fruiterer in Binalong in 1874, and carried on for nearly 40 years. Five sons and five daughters survive.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Anthony (Antonio) CUNEO died on 11 January 1929 at the home of his daughter in Illawarra Road, Marrickville, Sydney, Australia. He was buried the next day at the Waverley Roman Catholic Cemetery, on the cliffs of Sydney’s South Head, overlooking the ocean.

His death certificate states his age as 99 years, and his death in his 100th year is close enough to a century to be reported as such. Who among us would begrudge the honour to a true pioneer who arrived in Australia at the age of 12 when the colony was only a half-century old?

We do not know where Anthony (Antonio) sailed from and on what ship he arrived, but we are speculating he came with his father or an elder brother from northern Italy, via Scotland and England to Australia in about 1841-42.

They may have settled in Melbourne, Victoria during their first decade in Australia and then headed off to the Bendigo or Ballarat gold fields in 1851 in the hope of striking it rich. Or they could have travelled north and settled in New South Wales – we may never know.

Antonio CUNEO and John CUNEO are names on a list of unclaimed letters arriving on ships at Port Phillip, Melbourne and published in The Argus, Tuesday 27 November 1855. This usually meant letters from family overseas were addressed to the “Post Office, Melbourne” if the recipients had no permanent address. Highly likely if they had staked a claim in the bush somewhere and were living under canvas and digging for gold.

The obituary reports Anthony was present at the Lambing Flat gold diggings. Alluvial gold was discovered in 1860 at Lambing Flat (now the town of Young) in the south-west slopes and plains of New South Wales. The gold fields produced over 470,000 ounces of gold and up to 20,000 miners worked the fields including about 2,000 Chinese miners.

Australian gold fields 1850s

The Lambing Flat and Burrangong gold fields were the scene of a series of anti-Chinese demonstrations and riots between November 1860 and September 1861. An important aspect of the story is a contentious debate in the New South Wales parliament at that time over legislation to restrict Chinese immigration in the wake of similar Victorian and South Australian laws.

Trouble began late in 1860 with the formation of a Miners Protective League, followed by ‘roll-ups’ of European diggers evicting Chinese diggers from sections of the gold fields. After 10 months of unrest at Burrangong, the most infamous riot occurred on 30 June 1861 when a mob of about 2,000 drove the Chinese off the Lambing Flat gold field and then moved down to the Back Creek diggings, beating those fleeing, burning tents and looting their possessions. About 1,000 Chinese abandoned the fields and set up camp on a sheep station 20 km away.

The police arrived a few days later and identified and arrested the mob ring leaders. Approximately 1,000 European diggers launched an armed attack on the police camp on 14 July, which the police broke up with gunfire and mounted sabre attacks leaving one rioter dead and many wounded.

The police briefly abandoned the field, but then a detachment of 280 soldiers, sailors and police arrived from Sydney and stayed for about a year. The Chinese were reinstated on the segregated diggings and the ringleaders of the riots were tried and jailed. At the end of the affair Burrangong was quiet and the Chinese were still there, although subject to the new Chinese Immigration Restriction and Regulation Act that greatly restricted their rights.

Unfortunately, gold fever also increased the threat of robbery under arms. The local newspapers gave frequent reports of crimes on the gold fields and the activities of bushrangers. Many obituaries of early pioneers reported hardships in the diggings and brushes with outlaws, and it is to be believed that Anthony CUNEO would have had first hand experience with notorious bushrangers.


Between 1861 and 1865 Ben HALL and his gang, including John DUNN and Johnny GILBERT, robbed settlers, stores and mail coaches across the district. They ‘bailed up’ travellers on the roads between Bathurst, Young and Yass. With Binalong, Boorowa, Lambing Flat and the Burrangong gold fields all subject to their illegal activities.

All three were dangerous men who shot and killed settlers and police officers. HALL, GILBERT and DUNN were proclaimed outlaws in April 1865 under the Felons Apprehension Act, which meant any person was permitted to shoot them without warning. They each had a  £1000 reward on their heads. On 5 May 1865 HALL was ambushed and shot by police near Goobang Creek on the Lachlan plain. His body, riddled with bullet holes, was buried in the cemetery at Forbes. GILBERT was shot by Constable John BRIGHT on 13 May and his body was exhibited at Binalong police station for three days before being buried in the police paddock. DUNN managed to escape but was captured in January 1866, he was only 19 years old when hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol.

Anthony CUNEO arrived in the Yass and Young district about 2 years before the gold rush hit the area. Anthony was 28 years old in 1858 when he married 16 year old Catherine BYE, the daughter of Irish immigrants John BYE (1819-?) and Margaret GOREMAN (1820-1903) who lived at Murrumburrah, about 30 km south of Young.

Anthony and Catherine had 10 children who survived (5 girls and 5 boys). The births are all registered in the Yass, Binalong and Boorowa districts between 1859 and 1881. Their descendants were:

  • William Albert CUNEO (1859-1942) married Rose Annie ?
  • Margaret Madeline CUNEO (1862-1949) married Frederick SUTTON (1851-1919). You can read more about Frederick SUTTON in this blog post. Their daughter Honor SUTTON (1894-1974) married Roland Cuthbert CLARK (1889-1973) the son of the Sydney department store founder Henry Marcus CLARK (1859-1913).
  • Mary Amelia CUNEO (1864-?) married Thomas Henry WATSON
  • Angelina Isabella CUNEO (1865-1951) married Lawrence MULLIGAN
  • Albert Antonio CUNEO (1867-1952) married Helena Gertrude ?
  • John F CUNEO (1869-?)
  • Emily Jane CUNEO (1871-1965) married Henry NEWTON
  • Catherine Maria CUNEO (1873-?) married William A R BRANDER
  • Frederick Joseph CUNEO (1878-1965) married Kate J COFFEY
  • Ronald Leslie A CUNEO (1881-1956) married Mary T GAMBETTA

Much of the above family research was shared with me by Liz BROWNE who is descended from the Marcus CLARK line. If anyone can shed light on where Anthony CUNEO emigrated from and his early life in Australia, we would be most grateful.

You can learn more about the Australian gold rush and bushrangers at the source links below. The SBS series Dirty Business: How Mining Made Australia is really worth watching. The first episode highlights the early settlement, migrations to the gold fields and the subsequent anti-Chinese race riots in Victoria and Lambing Flat.

Sources: Trove,,,
Australian Dictionary of Biography,, Wikipedia Lambing Flat riots, Visit Young website, Harden-Murrumburrah Online Genealogists website.


24 thoughts on “antonio cuneo – centenarian

  1. Susan
    Presumably you’re in Australia? Your blog is most interesting, as it sheds further light and creates a little more mystery about my great Grandafther, Antonio Cuneo. Mystery insofar as research done by another family member showed Antonio as arriving in Australia, a fair bit later than 1841. Our records show 1854! Further, branches of the family have variously debated whether Antonio came with his (supposed) brother Giovanni and have concluded that they were not related. To me, it seems a little unlikely that two Cuneos would arrive in Australia, at quite tender ages, at the same port and, as far as we know, on the same ship, from England and not be related.
    Two of my uncles were catholic priests and one, Albert, was quite certain that Antonio and Giovanni were brothers. On the other hand, talking with some of Giovanni’s decendants (Hunters Hill, Sydney), reckoned that they were not related.
    So it’s all open to conjecture.
    The stories of Johnny Gilbert are too many to discount and Albert related to me that Giovanni, being Binalong’s baker, did in fact make a death mask of the bushranger in bread dough, so the story goes. I’m also told that the mask still exists, but goodness knows where.
    Earlier research also showed that both Giovanni and Antonio
    took ship in England and shipping records show both as ‘Genovese’. Personally, I was in Cuneo (Piedmonte) itself in 2007 and a few enquiries at the local catholic diocesan office there, came up with absolutely nothing. In fact, few records existed, in that part of the world, around the 1850’s. Probably not surprising. Note also that I do not speak Italian. I wish I did! A bit of really bad French is as good as it gets.
    As an aside, have you any reference material re Marie Therese Gambetta? She’s my Paternal Grandmother (or was) and Albert (one of her sons) the priest was quite definite that she was Leon Gambetta’s great-granddaughter. Now that’s an interesting connection! I haven’t been able to ascertain whether Leon had any descendants at all and it seems as though he did not. Maybe she was one from the other side of the blanket!
    Great research, Susan and I’ll be taking up the threads through the Trove source you’ve mentioned.
    Warwick Cuneo

    • Thanks for your feedback Warwick. Yes I am in Sydney, Australia, do you have a brother called Howard? I have been in touch with Howard a few months ago and plan on catching up with him at some point when I am next on the Central Coast. Howard is good mates with my cousin Bob Brooks. Bob’s mum Shirley and my dad Tom are sister and brother. Small world isn’t it?

      I don’t have any extra research on the CUNEOs and GAMBETTAs as I am only remotely connected but I will put you in touch with Liz Browne and Collissa Bower who are definitely CUNEO researchers. They should be able to help you sort some of the fact from fiction.

      regards Susan

  2. Susan
    I’ve only just today read your reply to mine of June 22nd. My apologies. Howard is indeed my brother.
    I can fill in a little of Catherine Bye, whose memorial I have personally seen in the cemetery at Binalong. The memorial gives her age as ’49 years’. After 10 children, she must’ve been feeling the miles! I’d like to hear what your other researchers have turned up!

  3. Hello Susan, a very interesting article in deed. I was in Binalong 2 weeks ago and revisted Catherine’s grave there. Someone had placed some fresh flowers on both hers and her grandson’s gave. I’m from Newcastle my name is Ian Leslie Brander and I am the grandson of Leslie Elgin Brander whose wife was the sister of the wife of Roland Clark ( uncle Roll ) . Two Cuneo girls. My Grandfather meet his wife to be on his brother’s selection at Cedar Glen near Lismore northern N.S.W. My father had meet Antonio when he was young and his father had said that Antonio used to talk to ‘ flash ‘ Johnny Gilbert under the dray while keeping a lookout for the local police. And had in fact supplied at times bread to them. And didn’t think they were too bad. My father’s older brother ( Kel Brander ) who was born in 1911 told me not long after his 90th birthday that his Grand mother ( Antonio’s dauther ) had told him as a young boy that when she was a girl that the Police had brought wounded John Gilbert into their house and that he died on their kitchen table in the arms of Antonio Cuneo . And that the police had asked if he had any plaster of paris . But due to an absence of plaster he took a cast using dough . She told Kel that John Gilbert was a very good looking young man.

    • Fascinating stuff Ian, thank you for getting in touch. I am overseas on holiday until mid-August so will contact you to share information when I get back. I can also put you in touch with other members of he family who are researching the Cuneos. Cheers Susan.

      • Thank you very much Susan, and I appreciate you being able to give me some of the contact details . I am about the same age as my cousins MJC and BC (names removed for privacy). If you have B’s contact details it would be lovely, as I have not see her for ages. And Susan I have some other interesting details as well that I will fill you in on when you return. Kind regards, ian brander

      • Hi again Susan , I was wondering if you could erase my cousin’s names off my last email as I thought it was a personal email to you only .They probably wouldn’t like their names up on a blog.Thanks I know you would understand. ian

  4. Hi Susan, It’s Ian Brander again. I need to clarify one point of the last posting. Leslie Elgin Brander’s wife was probably a Sutton prior to being married. A Cuneo by descent .My mother who just recently passed away had a worth of information on all these topics. bye .

  5. Ian Brander,
    I was recalling the conversations that have taken place over the years on the subject of Antonio Cuneo and I am 90 percent sure that it was mentioned that he was originally from Genoa , Italy. Or that he had sailed from there. My father passed away in 1993 , so the subject has not been taked about for some time. And Uncle Kel Brander passed away in about 2002. I hope that I have helped by adding some information on the subject. Regards, ian

  6. Hi Ian,
    I am Liz Browne, Peter Clarks daughter and granddaughter of Rol and Honor. I am also on the hunt for information on Antonio. One of my earliest memories are of Nan (Margaret, daughter of Antonio) in Ma and Rol’s bathroom in Clifton Gardens.
    As children we lived in Kulnura and used to visit Kel Branders place often, and your father and mothers in Newcastle.
    I have Warwick Cuneo’s email so will email him soon. I also have Catherine Bye’s Birth Record, thanks to a researcher of the Bye family. She contacted me through as she had the complete Bye family without No 1, Catherine. Together we found her, which was wonderful.
    I don’t think John and Antonio are related as on Antonio’s Death Index Reg No 2336 it states his parents as John and Catherine. His name was anglicised as Anthony. John’s parents are Andrea Cuneo and Isabella Peirano.
    I like the fact that Warwick thinks that Antonio arrived in Australia in 1854 as that would tie in with the unclaimed letters for John and Antonio, published in the Argus in 1855.
    Where is a record of his passage on a ship?
    Thank you Susan for this wonderful blog and giving us the opportunity to voice our query’s.

    • Hi Liz, you don’t know how pleased I am to hear from you ! You are Belinda & Honey Clark’s sister aren’t you ?! ( I hope they don’t mind me writing their names ) Please say hello to Belinda for me , I haven’t spoken to her for ages. The last time I meet her was when she was attending a junior high school in Kotara , Newcastle. I last heard from her indirectly via dad after returning from your dad’s funeral. You have an older brother as well , don’t you ?!.

      You mentioned ‘ Kulnura ‘ , was that your parent’s citrus farm on the Central Coast ?? I stil,remember the beautiful waratah flowers that grew there.
      You also mentioned Uncle Rol & Ma’s house ‘ Clifton Gardens ‘ — now that was their home in Sydney wasn’t it ? I also remember going there as well. Was their youngest son’s name Wal ?
      Wow , the years have really flown . but I still remember the details fairly well. Honor’s sister , Ruby Brander ( my grandmother ) — was also called ‘ ma ‘ by us all. Aunty Pat ( dad’s sister ) showed us a photo of her mother just shortly before she died and it looks extactly like my sister ‘Robyn ‘.

      Kel Brander’s farm & the house that he built are now part of the Newcastle University campus in Orimbah , Central Coast . ( brush road )

      I have some other wonderful bits of information on the Cuneos that I will share in my next entry.

      Susan , thank you for this wonderful blog.

      • Yes Ian, we share all the same memories. Niki, Penny and Roland are siblings as well. Dad’s brother was named Rick. I would like to fill in your family tree on, but for contact we have to wait for Susan to finish gallivanting around the world to pass on email addresses. I checked Facebook for you. Not there! Is Madelaine your cousin? Mum is the last “man” standing. She is a marvellously healthy 93.

      • Liz, Ian and all the Cunio cous’s, I’m going to send each of you each others email addresses if ok with you all. Then you can chat while I am overseas and let me know any new links when I return. Cheers Susan.

  7. Thanks Susan. Hopefully Antonio will have shown his face by the time you get home. Hope your birthday was fantastic. Enjoy your travels. Love, Liz.

  8. I stumbled across this blog quite by accident while searching for information on my grandmother Ruby Clarice Brander nee Sutton. It was just wonderful hearing about all of the information about the Cunios and the chat between Ian, my first cousin, and the other Clark relations. I am in irregular contact with Sally. Please keep up the info, it is great.

  9. Hi Hope this message gets to you,I have read the messages from other people and there seems to be a few Cuneos out there. I have been researching the Cuneo family for quite some years.My grandmother was the illegitimate daughter of Beatrice Madeline Cuneo, whose father was William Albert Cuneo and her mother was Rose Annie Tripp .Williams father was Anthony [Antonio] Cuneo and his mother was Catherine Bye.I am interested in finding out more about the Cuneo family.There are no family members alive for me to ask any questions.

    • Hi Maureen I am Howard Cuneo. I too am keen to follow the Cuneo line, please contact me on Ph: 0417 491394.. Hope this reaches you , regards Howard

      • Hi Maureen , Howard,

        This is Ian Brander from Newcastle ,N.S.W and I’m also a descendant of Antonio Cuneo.

        My father and his brother meet Antonio in the 1920’s and my grandfather was slightly younger than Antonio. So I was told some very interesting stories about our fore father.

        Looking forward to hearing from you both.

        Kind regards your distant cousin,


    • Maureen

      Nice to hear from a Cuneo researcher. There is some conflicting ‘opinion’ as to just when old Antonio arrived in Australia. According to well-researched information from Graham Cuneo, Antonio arrived in Australia in 1854. Susan Buck has his arrival some ten years previously and pretty much going straight to Binalong from Melbourne, where it wasn’t long after he opened a general store there. That seems a bit unlikely for a 12+ year old.

      I haven’t looked very carefully at the names of Antonio and Catherine’s ten children, but William was one of those, born in 1859. Catherine died at age 49, I’ve seen her headstone in Binalong cemetery: after ten children, she must’ve been worn out!

      Your Grandmother’s illegitimacy shows a few wild oats! News to me, but re-reading Graham’s stuff and using Tripp as a ‘lead’, I see that Guilfoyle, Poularas, Digby, Callaghan, Needham preceded the last, but not least, for you, John Ronald Lord.

      Graham Cuneo and myself met Mona (nee Cohen) Cuneo around in 1985. Mona’s husband Cyril Feehan Cuneo was near to being the last of Antonio and Catherine’s ten. Mona was 92 at the time.

      I’m fourth generation Australian and Cuneo is a name which has survived intact, although there used to be a couple of (misspelt) Cunios in the old ‘phone books. Safe to say I’m more Australian than most Australians!


      Warwick Cuneo

  10. Hi to you all, I have just read all the conversations between Susan and you, I am Howard cuneo, brother of Warwick……love to hear from you all, and you too Susan, very interested in all the “links”…..

  11. My name is Michael Robertson ,a Sutton decendent through my father Angus Roberson and his mother Maud(?)Madiel is my first cousin an Ian Brader a second.I remember the Clarkes from the central coast when I stated on their orchard and took a load f oranges to Sydney.I haven’t seen any of them since but I sure myself and my siblings would like to renew contact(mum and dad have passed)so if any of the Clarkes wish to reply please do so by contacting Vicki Robertson via Facebook p.m.

      • Hi Michael, There are several Vicki Robertson’s on facebook, can you give me an indication which one I should contact? Where does she live – Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney or Moruya?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s