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Smallpox arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788 and reached the Port Philip area in 1790, via the first European settlement in Australia at Port Jackson, claiming at least half the population of the combined Kulin nation tribes.The last full-blood member of the Bunurong tribe, Yam-mer-book, also known as Jimmy Dunbar (from the Ngaruk-Willam clan, which was geographically close to the Mayone-bulluk clan) who lived to the north of Frankston near Mordialloc, died of natural causes in 1877.A more recent theory, put forward by the author and historian Michael Jones in his local history book Frankston: Resort to City (published in 1989), is that Frankston was named after the heroic British army general Sir Thomas Harte Franks.The theory is strengthened by the fact that a number of places near Frankston also have names that are derived or adapted from those of British army generals and statesmen (such as Cranbourne, Hastings, Lyndhurst, Mornington and Pakenham).

The demonym for someone from Frankston is a Frankstonian.However, Charlwood does mention that Stone had purchased the Cannanuke Inn from "a man named Standring".It is therefore unlikely that Stone purchased or leased the Cannanuke Inn from Davey or Standring before the formal land sales for Frankston in 1854—and after which the name "Frankston" was already in use.The Mayone-bulluk clan of the Frankston area was closely linked through marriage to the Wurundjeri-balluk clan of the Melbourne city centre area, from the neighbouring Woiwurrung tribe, based on this system. The earliest recorded encounter of the Bunurong tribe with Europeans in the Frankston area was in early 1803, when Captain Charles Robbins sailed his ship the Cumberland into Port Phillip on the surveying expedition headed by Charles Grimes.Another possible encounter of the Mayone-bulluk clan with Europeans in 1803 was in late-December, with three convicts that had escaped from the failed settlement by Captain David Collins at Sorrento on the southern Mornington Peninsula.Considering Frank Liardet's early presence in the Frankston area, and his connections to the early mail services of Melbourne, it is plausible that "Frank's Town" became nomenclature for describing the area and its unofficial village.As a consequence it is possible that the name of "Frankston" was further adapted from it when officially naming the village for its formal land sales in 1854.Due to its geographic location, it is often referred to as "the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula".European settlement of Frankston began around the same time as the foundation of Melbourne in 1835—initially as an unofficial fishing village serving the early Melbourne township.Jones states that the Surveyor General of Victoria from 1853 to 1858, Sir Andrew Clarke, named all of these places.Prior to the foundation of Melbourne by Europeans in 1835, the area surrounding Port Phillip was originally populated by Indigenous Australians of the Kulin nation for an estimated 31,000 to 40,000 years.