A big day for Uranquinty's favourite son

Sydney Morning Herald
24 November, 2007
By Alan Ramsey

The Lewingtons have been farming near the village of Uranquinty, just south of Wagga Wagga, for more than a century. In the late 1930s a lump of the Lewington property was taken over by the Defence Department for a wartime air force base which survived until 1959. Later, Jenny Lewington married into the family and moved to Uranquinty in the early 1970s. These days Jenny Lewington edits the Uranquinty Newsletter, without which I'd never have heard of Puddin' Rudd.

It was Wal Fife who told me about Puddin'.

Fife used to be a Liberal Party politician, first in NSW, where he served as a minister in the Askin government in the 1960s and early '70s, then federally for 7 years as a cabinet colleague of John Howard's in the Fraser government until its defeat in 1983.

Fife, now 77, still runs a family sheep property near Wagga, and earlier this year his older brother, Harold, 88, told Wal about the quarterly issue of the Uranquinty community newsletter and its extraordinary story of the "history of the Rudd family". Somehow, that history has managed to elude most of the rest of us.

Until now, that is.

And now that "Kevin07" is set to become Queensland's fourth prime minister - after Labor's Andrew Fisher, the Scots-born coalminer who was Australia's first prime minister (in 1910) to govern with an absolute majority; the Country Party's Artie Fadden (for 40 days) in 1941; and Labor's Frank Forde (for a week) in 1945 - you should know about Puddin' Rudd and his three brothers.

You also need to know about the remarkable Mary Wade, the child convict who evaded the gallows in London in 1789 when her execution for robbery was commuted to transportation "for life" and she was shipped to Australia in 1790 in the Second Fleet's Lady Juliana, the so-called "floating brothel", to become one of the "founding mothers" of White Australian settlement before she died and was buried in 1859 at what would become Wollongong's Pioneer Rest.

Know, too, about "Granny" Sarah Rudd (nee Winnell) who married John Rudd - grandson of Second Fleet convict Thomas Rudd and great grandson of Mary Wade - and who lived all her life in Uranquinty.

And about Granny Rudd's eldest son, Albert Edward Rudd, a railway fettler, who married Maud Harrison and had five daughters and four sons, all four of whom served in World War II and one of whom was Gordon "Puddin"' Rudd, the "best chaff cutter" Wal Fife's brother Harold ever worked with.

Lastly, know that Puddin's oldest brother was Bert Rudd, nicknamed "Hinkler", after the Australian pioneer aviator Bert Hinkler, and who is still remembered in Uranquinty as "a very good [Australian rules] footballer who could leap high in the ruck". It was Bert Rudd who came home from the war in 1946, and the night before he left to live in Queensland the village organised a farewell party where his father Albert played the violin and "Alf Lee sang Don't Leave The Old Home".

But Alf was too late. Bert Rudd left Uranquinty to become a banana grower then a cane cutter and then to share farm a dairy herd near Nambour in Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland in the 1950s and '60s. Bert also became husband to Margaret De Vere and father to three sons and a daughter before he died in hospital in 1969 from blood poisoning after crashing his car while apparently drunk.

Kevin Michael Rudd, politician, is Bert Rudd's youngest son.

A seventh generation Australian, Kevin's paternal grandmother five times removed was that London street urchin sentenced, at age 10, to hang for having "feloniously" stripped an eight-year-old of her clothes in a public lavatory but who dodged the hangman to beget a line of Australian descendants, over the next 200 years, in the "thousands upon thousands", including our about-to-be prime minister.

The stuff of tabloid fiction?

A bit of political spin on polling day?

Not at all. It's all there in the National Library in the book, Mary Wade To Us - A Family History, 1778-1986, compiled by a flock of Wade descendants. The history records, across 240 pages, her descendants through seven children, including two streams of the Rudds. One of these, through Mary's eldest son, William Brooker, records a sixth generation "Albert (Bert) Rudd, b 18-11-1918" marrying "Margaret" in "Nambour, Qld", with no recorded date.

There are Rudds by the dozens but there is no record of Bert and Margaret's four children - Malcolm, Greg, Lorree and Kevin. Uranquinty is proud of the Rudds. Kevin and his family have visited a number of times. And Jenny Lewington's newsletter has filled in the gap in the public record. Who would have thought it of "Kevin07"?

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