Described by William Macarthur as a fine warrior , 'a brave man and a quiet one too', Budbury was also highly respected for his efforts to maintain peaceful relations between the early settlers and the aborigines in the early part of the 1800s. He is remembered with pride among the descendants of the local Dharawal people.
Budbury and his wife Mary were part of a group whom Macquarie met in the Cowpastures in 1810. He was one of the guides who accompanied John Warby in search of outlawed aborigines in 1814. Budbury was to develop a strong friendship with Warby.
It was in 1814 as a guide for John Warby that he succeeded in capturing one of the colony's most feared bushrangers, Patrick Collins. This stunned officials who were determined to bring Collins to justice. Budbury was warmly praised for his efforts and immediately won respect from the white population.
Budbury acted as both a peacemaker and interpreter between the white settlers and blacks. Although he was friendly towards the settlers, he was in danger as not all of them could identify him. An example of this hostility from a terrified settler prompted Charles Throsby to write a letter to the Sydney Gazette expressing his concerns for Budbury.
Budbury acted as one of the guides for Captain John Wallis on his punitive expedition to the district of Airds and Appin in 1816. This was on the orders of Governor Macquarie. Budbury was an unwilling guide as was John Warby, who also acted as a guide. Warby secretly let Budbury and his other guide Bundle escape, to the fury of Captain Wallis.
By 1821 Budbury was regarded as the leader of the Cowpasture people. He was always linked with the Macarthurs and Camden estate and also lived there. A paddock on the estate was known as Budbury's.
Records mention his name throughout the 1830s and 1840s and even as late as 1859, where he is listed in the electoral rolls as a labourer on Camden estate. A 'John Budberry' is recorded as being baptised at Camden in 1842. It's believed he lived until about 1860.
Liston, Carol 1988
The Dharawal and Gandangara in Colonial Campbelltown, New South Wales, 1788-1830
In Aboriginal History Vol 12, No.1
McGill, Jeff 1993