THE strange name of Bunny may mean that it is the "eye" or islet covered with "buns" or reeds, or it may derive from an Anglo-Saxon word which signifies that it is an island in a hollow. Whatever is the origin of its name Bunny is an ancient place.
In the latter half of the seventeenth century Bunny was possessed by Sir Thomas Parkyns, a great, if somewhat eccentric man.
He was born in 1663 so that he just missed the Restoration of the Stuarts, and he died in 1745, so that he escaped the terrors and excitement of the Jacobite rebellion under Bonnie Prince Charlie. But he lived through stirring enough times, for surely the deposition of James II., the advent of William and Mary, the accession of Queen Anne and the rebellion in favour of the Old Pretender, to say nothing of Marlborough’s campaigns, would provide enough incident for half a dozen lives.
As a young man Sir Thomas inherited a fortune, which he proceeded to use for what he conceived to be the public good. He took his duties as a magistrate very seriously, and he studied economics as understood in his day. To further his views on economics he endeavoured to establish a union of employers, and bearing in mind that he was really a very kindly and charitable man, it is interesting to find that he proposed £5 per annum. for a ploughman and £2 10s. per annum for a female indoor domestic servant !
He was interested in local affairs and became involved in the dispute which eventually led to the building of the Shire Hall in Nottingham, and in many ways he made himself popular and useful.
To further education he composed a Latin grammar which must have been a striking production, and for the benefit of his neighbours he studied medicine "both Galenica and Paracelaie," though the benefits his neighbours derived from his services may have been doubtful.
Not content with making alterations to his own house to increase its comfort, about 1700 he commenced to rebuild the village of Bunny, so that Bunny is, in reality, a memorial of what a kindly and public spirited gentleman could do for the benefit of his tenants about the time that Queen Anne was on the throne, and his beautiful schoolhouse seems to have features about it which put later schoolhouses to shame !
His hobby was wrestling, and he nicknamed himself "Luctator," which means "struggler," and he spent much time and money in furthering this sport. His monument in Bunny Church represents him as a wrestler, and his Latin epitaph may be translated:
"At last he falls, the long, long contest’s o’er.
And Time has thrown him whom none threw before,
But boast not, Time, thy victory, for he
At last shall rise once more, and conquer thee."