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© Colton History Society
2004 - 2014

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People of Note

Frederic Bonney

Frederic Bonney was the son of the head teacher of Rugeley grammar school. His Uncle, Charles Bonney was one of the celebrated early Australian explorers who had established overland tracks for the early pastoralists.

Frederic's elder brother had also gone out to Australia to live and work as a manager of a 2 ½ million acre sheep station at Momba on the Darling river north of Adelaide.

Frederic decided to go and work out there with him and did so for a number of years. He had developed his hobby of photography and whilst he lived there he took some of the first pictures of Aborigines and made many anthropological notes.

His work was recognised as a contribution to our understanding of life in Australia and he was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He also took many pictures of the first settlers in and around the Murray River region north of Adelaide.

In later years his photographs became highly regarded by the Australians and his photographic record formed the basis of Educational books informing young Australian children about life in that area of Australia in the 19th. century. His collection is kept in the Australian Museum in Sydney and can be viewed on the internet.

Image: Photo of Bonney with Aborigines

Photograph of Bonney with Aborigines

He eventually came back to England and settled at Colton House in Colton in 1891. He was also a keen botanist, creating a considerable arboretum around the lake that used to be part of the Colton House estate, straight opposite the house and a beautiful garden to the side of his house. Many of the trees he planted can still be seen. Many of Colton’s fetes were held in the gardens with the village children visiting for May Day festivals which he recorded with his camera along with many other events during his time in the village. 

These now form a beautiful archive set of black and white photographs that present day and future residents of Colton can view. .He was very active in village life and was the first Chairman of Colton Parish Council . He was also a Justice of the Peace serving as a Magistrate in Rugeley.

Image: photo of Frederic Bonney in latter years

He was a member of the Management Committee for Rugeley Hospital and President of the Reading and Recreation Rooms in Bow Street, Rugeley. He moved back to Rugeley in 1902 where he spent the last few years of his life.


  More People of Note
  The DeWasteney Family
Lords of the Manor of Colton until the 14th. Century. (click here)
  The Aston Family
Lords of the Manor from the 17th.-18th. Century. Lord Aston an important courtier. (click here)
  The Blount Family
Lords of the Manor into the 18th.& 19th. Century. (click here)
  The Boughey Family
Their allegiance to their faith caused them great hardship in the 17th. Century. (click here)
  John Heyliger Burt
18th Century owner of Colton House and plantations in the West Indies. (click here)
  Frederic Bonney
Victorian Explorer, botanist and distinguished photographer. (click here)
  Rev. F. P. Parker
Rector of Colton and important Staffordshire Antiquarian. (click here)
  The Bagot Family
Lords of the smaller Colton Manor until the 20th. Century. (click here)