The earliest record we have of this family is Patrick Bourke who originated in Ireland. However, there is some uncertainty if he originated in Galway or in Tipperary. However, he seems to have married Mary Ann Cannon and to have had a daughter there becoming to Melbourne in 1844.
Patrick and Mary's family grew rapidly, with at least another 3 boys and two girls being born in Melbourne. However, not much is known of the family's movements for the next eighteen years.
Their children took to the hotel trade enthusiastically, but not without their difficulties. Their oldest child Bridget married Anthony Gorman, a publican who moved through a range of towns of New South Wales with a succession of hotels, ultimately ending up as publican of the New Zealander Hotel in Sydney. However, it seems that he and Bridget were separated for some time and he also becme insolvent.
Their first son Patrick become a publican in Vegetable Creek (now Emmaville) and evidently lived there for at least 15 years, dying there unmarried in 1897. After the death of her husband, Patrick's mother Mary ended her days in Emmaville in her son's hotel.
Their third son James was the publican at the Royal Hotel in the tin-mining town of Tinga (near Inverell) in the late 1870'S, but within seven years was the publican of the George Washington Hotel in Sydney, and later of the new Zealand Hotel (perhaps the same hotel that ultimately found it's way into the hands of his brother-in-law Anthony Gorman). He evidently died in Sydney after 1900.
Their second daughter Mary married a Thomas Fitzgerald, who, like Anthony Gorman, was also a publican. Thomas and Mary settled for a while in Deepwater close to where Mary's family was located; when she died in 1895 she was buried in Emmaville with her mother and brother Patrick.
Their second son Michael Bourke next makes an appearance as a miner in Parkes NSW where, on the same day, he marries Susannah Nicholson and Susannah gives birth to a child. Sadly, the child only lives for two years. Two more boys and two girls follow, and for a while Michael and Susan are the first warder and nurse of Parkes District Hospital. However, some family compass pulls him to the life of the innkeeper too. After a couple of years they move 700 kilometres north to the tin-mining district where they run the Royal Hotel at Tingha (previously run by his brother James). The life isn't right for Michael; he dies in his mid thirties of alcoholic poisoning, just before the birth of his last son.
Michael and Susannah's first surviving boy, Don Bourke, becomes a real character. He also became a publican for a while, lived in South Africa, is figured to have spent time as a seaman and painter, became NCR's top salesman (and later manager), poet, author and a bookkeeper, but it is as a newspaper contributor and president of St. Margaret's Hospital for Women that he is best known.
The second son, Argyle Bourke, enlisted in the Great War, and served in Gallipoli, France and England before returning to Australia. He married, but had no children.
The youngest daughter, Susie Bourke spent the years of the Great War in London, from there she penned many letters to her family in Sydney, many of which have survived along with letters written by soldiers to her. She married in England just before her return, but she tragically died in her early forties. Her only son died in the Second World War.
The eldest daughter, Mary Bourke, married Joseph Hill, an accountant working for the NSW Mont de Piete. For years she lived next to her older brother Don and his family and forged strong bonds between the two families.