Henry Bunny was born in 1822 in Newbury in Berkshire, the second son of Jere Bunny, solicitor, of that town and his wife, Clara, only surviving daughter of Samuel Slocock, banker, also of Newbury. He married Catherine Bunny (née Baker, born 24 June 1818 in Newbury) on 22 October 1844.
Scandal in England
Bunny was a partner in his father's firm of Newbury solicitors. He was town clerk of Newbury between 1849 and 1853. He fled to New Zealand in 1853 and was declared a bankrupt after the scandalous collapse of a property development scheme at Donnington Square in Newbury. He was struck off by the Law Society in 1859.
Career in New Zealand
|Parliament of New Zealand|
Bunny emigrated to New Zealand together with his wife and children, his sister and her husband, Rev. Arthur Baker, on the Duke of Portland, leaving Plymouth on 19 November 1853. Bunny applied to the New Zealand Bar, was admitted in 1858, but became the first member to be disbarred when it was discovered his sponsor, Rev. Arthur Baker, was his brother-in-law. Baker became involved in a later scandal and was branded 'the horse-whipped vicar'.
Bunny was on the Wellington Provincial Council, representing Wairarapa (1864–1865) and then Wairarapa West (1865–1876). He was on the Executive Council (1871–1873) and was Secretary-Treasurer and the Council's last Deputy-Superintendent in 1876. He was elected to represent the Wairarapa electorate in the New Zealand General Assembly from an 1865 by-election to 1881, when he was defeated for the new electorate of Wairarapa South by Walter Clarke Buchanan.
A resignation in the Thorndon electorate caused an 1884 by-election. At the nomination meeting, Thomas Dwan, Alfred Newman and Henry Bunny were proposed as candidates, with Dwan winning the show of hands. At the election on 14 May 1884, Newman, Bunny and Dwan received 636, 379 and 121 votes, respectively.
Death and commemoration
Bunny committed suicide on 15 February 1891. He went to the Road Board office in his home town Featherston, asked for the key to the office and once he arrived there, shot himself through the heart with a revolver. He was buried at Featherston Cemetery. The village of Bunnythorpe is named after him.
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- Finn, Jeremy (July 2002). The schoolgirl and the horse-whipped parson: an account of an early New Zealand cause celebre. (PDF). Katoomba.
- Scholefield 1950, p. 237.
- Scholefield 1950, p. 236.
- Scholefield 1950, p. 235.
- Wilson 1985, pp. 186–187.
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- "Bunnythorpe". Our Region. Retrieved 16 March 2012.