Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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Peter Bonthron was the author of My Holidays on Inland Waterways and many articles about his boating exploits around the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century Although there seems to be little published information about him and his life we know from his writings that he was a successful businessman - a city gent. He certainly had a smart motor boat, at a time when motor boating was in its infancy, a large houseboat on the Thames and a chauffeur driven car.
His Thames motor boat, Balgonie, also gives a clue to his Scottish origin. The 14th century Balgonie Castle is situated in Fife as is the town of Buckhaven, just a few miles away. The Bonthrons of Buckhaven were a family of bakers, including Peterís father PETER BONTHRON (1811-1897), who was a draper at Balgonie House, Scoonie in nearby Leven.
Peter Bonthron, junior, was born in Scotland on 16th July 1857 and by the time of the 1891 Census was lodger at 19 Surrey Street, St Clement-Danes, London. He is listed as a Shipping Agent and an employer. He married late in life, at Wallingford, Oxfordshire, in September 1910, when he was aged 53. At this time his profession was still Shipping Agent. His wife was Mary Dunn Bryson, aged 46 and the daughter of an Optician, James MacKay Bryson. Peter Bonthron died in February 1921 at Midhurst, Sussex.
We know little of his business activities, other than that he was a shipping agent, but it does not seem to be connected with that of Bonthronís of 106 Regent Street, London which was the bakery and restaurant business of John Bonthron, who belonged to another branch of the Buckhaven family of bakers.