Birrells are recorded in Berwick in 1449 and
in Kirkcaldy and Glasgow between 1540 and 1579. Robert Birrel, an Edinburgh burgess, wrote
a diary of events from 1532 to 1605.
a detailed account of the Birrell family kindly provided by Matt & Thelma Birrell
Birrell - First Families and Places
Kingdom of Fife and Census Returns. Henry Birrell and Mary
Leslie and Census Returns - Villages and Families
Dunfermline and Census Returns. Henry Birrell and Mary
Robertson. Elspeth Birrell & W.Anderson
Henry Birrell and Mary Kirk, Newcasatle on Tyne U.K.
Colinton and Poor House
James Reith and Jemima Birrell
Birrell Family in Australia. Andrew Cunning Anderson and
Family at Maryborough and Rockhampton
Andrew Anderson and Emma Price and Family, Maryborough
Esther Abrahams - First Lady of Anandale. George Johnston
James Birrell arrives in Brisbane. James Birrell and Emma
Montgomery and Family
Claude & Jane Birrell; Rhoda & Ted Burns; Eva &
Dave Bade Families
Ernest & Ellen Birrell Family
Memoirs of Kathy and Lyn (Birrell)
Andrew & Florence Birrell Family
Diary of William W.Anderson
Montgomery Family. John Montgomery & Jane Down. Thomas
Down Montgomery & Celia Ann Skeates.
Redman Family Story
FAMILY OF KINGDOM of FIFE
in Fife, is probably the region of Scotland, from where most Birrell
families emanated. Birrel is listed with about 50 Hugenout families who fled
France during the revolution. From Scottish documents, it is believed that
Birrell families entered Britain during the 15th century, through the
village of BERWICK onTWEED
on the north east of England. HENRY BIRRELL was born c1750 and toiled
as a farmer, with his wife Catherine Storrar. William Birrell was born in
1780 and this man is thought to be his son. Henry’s birth was registered as
Henry Berryl, as it was a common practice at that time just to write, what
he thought he heard. This William was a mill foreman, while he was noted as
a tenter, on his death certificate and lived at Leslie. Many of his
descendants worked as hand loom weavers in the Prinlaws Mills, which were by
the town of Leslie. The Prinlaws Mills are just a short distance from the
village of Falkland, Freuchie and Newton of Falkland. William Birrell died
at Leslie aged 81 years on the 21st December 1861. He was probably buried at
the ‘Church on The Green’ where original grave sites remain.
is one of the oldest villages in the KINGDON of FIFE, while
Dunfermline was once the capital of Fifeshire. Falkland retains some
remarkable old stone buildings, which open from small doorways, on to narrow
cobbled lanes, creating a ‘picture postcard’ for the tourist. Falkland
Palace, in the centre of town remains the property of the House of Windsor,
but is held by the National Trust for Scotland and open for public viewing.
WILLIAM BIRRELLmarried c1800 to Elspeth Birrell. Records show that children were born
to William and Elspeth Storrar, while other were born at the same time to
William and Elspeth Birrell. Traditionally most families named their first
child after the mother’s christian name, this could well be her given name
or she may have even been a Birrell at the time of her marriage, a common
occurrence during that time of history. The 1861 census shows William and
Elspeth living at 46 Porch Cottages, Leslie, which is north of the ancient
town of Dunfermline and the Firth of Forth. The countryside is green and
yellow, as much is under pastures, creating a wonderful tapestry across the
hills and dales of the Kingdom of Fife.
Some unconfirmed entries
are William Birrell son of William and Euph. born 1st July1807; Margaret
Birrell daughter of Euph(emia) Birrell born 21st December 1809. There were
possibly more children to this marriage, but interest continues with third
child Henry (Harry) who was ancestor of the Australian line of the family.
Christiana at 79, is Henry’s aunt in 1871, boarding with the family. Is she
a daughter of the first family in this paper ? Of course Elspeth and Euph
could have been the same, as records go.
shows 5 children born to WILLIAM & ELSPETH BIRRELL, 48 Porch
1. Elspeth Birrell born
9th June 1802 Newton of Falkland, baptised.13th June 1802 (after mother)
2. Catherine Birrell born 17th August 1803, baptised 21st August 1803 (after
3. Henry (Harry) Birrell born 11th October 1804 , baptised 21st October 1804
Harry was informant on William’s death registration (after grandfather)
4. David Birrell born 17th January 1811, baptised 27th January 1811
5. John Birrell born 31st May 1813, baptised 13th June 1813
a shoemaker applied for Marriage Banns on 22nd December 1828 for his
marriage to Mary Robertson born about 1810 at Leslie, Fifeshire. Mary’s
parents were George Robertson, a linen weaver and Margaret Nicol. Henry (1)
Birrell and Mary Robertson married at Innerleven in Parish of Markinch, not
far from Leslie or Falkland. Henry (1) was listed in the Innerleven
Directories as a shoemaker. He was also on directories at Leslie, as a
shoemaker for many years. By Mary’s 46th birthday in 1855 she had given
birth to 17 infants, three boys and two girls being deceased. They were very
difficult and sad times indeed. Scottish Registration began in 1855 and
certificates from that time contain much useful information. Thirteen of
Henry and Mary’s children were listed in the census of Leslie and at
Dunfermline at later times.
was a papermaking village, where the covenanter General Leslie died in 1661
and was buried at St.Drosnan’s Church. Glenrothes in Parish of Markinch, was
formerly a coalfield, but was the site of a well planned region and large
shopping complex, during our visit in 1995. Henry (2) Birrell husband of
Mary Kirk, died at the Thornton Poor House in the Parish of Markinch,
Fifeshire in 1913.
was situated on the north bank of the Firth of Forth, but we discovered in
1995 that the village no longer exists. It was incorporated into the village
of Lower Methil, which was and still is, an industrial and shipping centre
in Fifeshire. In 1995 the Lower Methil Heritage Centre commenced and they
have kindly supplied a photo of old Innerleven. Just a short distance away
is the busy shopping village of Leven. Henry (1) Birrell and Mary Robertson
married at Innerleven in 1828
was once the capital of the Kingdom of Fife and indeed all of Scotland,
encompassing the history of King Robert the Bruce, who is laid to rest in
Dunfermline Abbey. Dunfermlineis a Royal County and a town of
linen manufacturing. Andrew Carnegie was born in a small cottage, now a
museum in Rolland Street, near the home of the Birrell family during the
same years. As a boy in Pittsburgh U.S.A. he was refused the use of a
prominent citizen’s library, which was open to working (apprecticed) boys
only. He used the newspaper to show his objection to the principle, which
resulted in all being allowed access. Andrew’s concern with poverty and
ignorance grew and in time he became a benefactor to the world. From
Andrew’s somewhat deprived childhood, he became a multi millionaire in the
Pittsburgh steel industry, establishing libraries and public halls
worldwide. It was a special moment to do research in one of the first -
Dunfermline ‘Carnegie’ Library, in Kingdom of Fife. A most beautiful
parkland ‘THE GLEN’ was donated to the town of Dunfermline, by the
Carnegie Trust in 1903, for the use of all people. Here the many birds and
small animals, particularly squirrels, roam the green glens, resplendent
with beautiful trees and gardens, without fear of humans. The parkland leads
off the end of the main street, past a statue of the selfless benefactor. An
old imposing building, once owned by the laird, was out of bounds to young
Carnegie. He derived great satisfaction later in his life, when he was able
to purchase the whole site and donate it to the people of Dunfermline, for
all to walk around and enjoy. It is a most pleasant oasis in town, with an
entry to the historic abbey as well.
(Frookie) is a small village, just a short distance along the road from
Newton of Falkland. Population was small in these villages at that time and
may be even smaller today. Surprisingly, quite a number of Birrell’s are
recorded as living there and are named on gravestones in the cemetery. The
villages of NEWTON of FALKLAND, FREUCHIE and FALKLAND would all be in
about a four to five mile radius, hile Leslie is just a little further away.
NEWTON of FALKLAND adjoins Falkland village, being only about half a
mile through verdant pastoral lands.
is a ‘Weaver’s Town’ with the Church on The Green, being of special
interest. This old stone building has recently been restored and converted
into housing units, which are very charming indeed.
The back yard of these
units consists of the gravestones of old Leslie identities. In ‘The Green’
(park in front) is the ‘Bull Stone’ , which was used to tether the bulls,
during bull baiting. The town basically consists of one long, main road,
which continues to Prinlaws Street and the Prinlaws Linen Mills. The village
consists mainly of quaint, but small bluestone cottages, that border the
roadway, leading down to the babbling brook and green pastures. This stream
was once the driving force of the huge water mill, used by the flax mills.
Loch Leven and the restored Strathendry Castle are nearby to Leslie.
gleaned from all records. All born at Leslie, except Jemima Ramsay Birrell
1. William Birrell
................. born 19.10.1829 (named after father)
2. Henry Birrell.................... born 5.11.1832 (after
3. Margaret Birrell............... born 23. 8.1834 (after Robertson
4. William Birrell.................. born 5. 4.1836 (first William
5. David Birrell .....................born 28. 8.1838 (after uncle)
6. Elspeth Birrell...................born 13. 6.1840 (after grandmother)
7. Janet Birrell...................... born 6. 5.1842
8. Mary Birrell (twin).......... born 5. 5.1844 (after mother)
9. Agnes Birrell (twin).........born 5. 5.1844 (family name ?)
10. John Birrell................... ..born 27. 5.1849 (after uncle)
11. James Birrell ....................born 17. 7.1851
12. Christiana Birrell............ born 17. 9.1853 (after Aunt
13. Jemima Ramsay Birrell... born 6. 8.1855 at 5.am. Newton of Falkland
CENSUS of 1851
years Shoemaker born Falkland, Head of house
Mary Birrell.............40 years Wife born Leslie
Henry Birrell............18 years Unmarried, draper, born Leslie
(married Mary Kirk)
Margaret Birrell.......16 years Linen weaver, born Leslie, died
William Birrell..........14 years Scholar, born Leslie, unmarried
David Birrell.............12 years Druggist apprentice, born Leslie
Elspeth Birrell..........10 years Scholar, born Leslie (married
Janet Birrell.............. 8 years Scholar, born Leslie (married
Mary Birrell.............. 6 years Scholar, born Leslie (twin)
Agnes Birrell............ 6 years Scholar, born Leslie (twin) (married
John Birrell............... 1 year Became an engineer at Glasgow -
died at Dunfermline family home.
was born on 17th July and census was taken in first half of 1851. This
reveals the absence of William (1) probably confirming his death in infancy.
As a master shoemaker, Henry kept the lodger, John McQuine, servant and
shoemaker’s apprentice, at his house. The 1851 census unfolds another
mystery regarding the family of William Birrell aged 67, Flax Mill Overseer
and his wife Agnes aged 60. Henry and Mary named a daughter Agnes. William
and Agnes had a daughter Elspeth, a flax spinner aged 46. The family lived
at 35 Prinlaws Street, Leslie. William Birrell died in 1861 at Prinlaws
(father of Henry - informant) Was it possible that William married secondly
after the death of Elspeth ?
CENSUS of 1861 at48 PORCH
The census describes the
house as having three rooms and William Birrell being 78 years.
(Census age is within a five year period.) He was a late Mill Overseer and
born at Falkland.
Agnes...................................wife 66 years born at
Elspeth ................................daughter, 58 years, flax mill
worker, born Falkland
Mary....................................daughter, 40 years, born Weymss,
Mary Ann Stewart.............gr.dau, 20 yrs, born Aberdeen, Scotland to
Catherine Birrell & James Stewart.
Agnes..................................daughter, 32 years, born Weymss,
Thomas Johnston..............grandson, 11 years, scholar, born Leslie,
was born 1.8.1849 to William Johnston and Agnes Birrell, who also had a son
William Johnston born 11.2.1852. There is possibly more issue unknown to us.
William Johnston married 20.10.1848 to Agnes Birrell of Leslie. Boarders at
48 Porch Cottages, Leslie, were two shoemakers, David Stephenson aged 18 and
William Stephenson aged 20. Noted in the census of 1881 are Agnes Johnston
born in Aberdeen, and is a sister to Mary Birrell.
CENSUS 1861 at 77 NEW
COTTAGES LESLIE, Fifeshire. Henry
(1) and Mary (Robertson) BIRRELL.
years, head, bootmaker, employs two men and born at Freuchie.
Mary Birrell...................50 years, bootmaker’s wife, born at Leslie.
Margaret Birrell............26 years, linen hand loom weaver, born Leslie
David Birrell..................22 years, boot classer.
Elspeth Birrell................21 years, linen hand loom weaver, (married
1872 William W.Anderson)
Janet Birrell....................18 years, linen hand loom weaver, (married
5.11.1875 Robert Stobie)
Mary Birrell....................16 years, linen hand loom weaver, twin
Agnes Birrell..................16 years, linen hand loom weaver, twin
John Birrell......................11 years, scholar. (Engineer, Glasgow -
lived at Netherton Street after 1900)
James Birrell.....................9 years, scholar.
Christiana Birrell..............7 years, scholar.
Jemima Ramsay Birrell....5 years, scholar. (m.1884 James Reith) lived
Netherton Street, Dunfermline.
CENSUS 1851 and 1861
shows the entire family active in the Prinlaws Flax Mills at Leslie. These
mills are demolished today, except for the remains of a large chimney, right
alongside the running creek. The census of 1871 shows the Birrell family
living at 248 Rolland Street, Dunfermline. The family of Henry and Mary
(Robertson) Birrell lived at 32 Netherton Street, Dunfermline at the time of
their decease in 1885 and 1887 respectively. Henry and Mary’s son John and
their last daughter Jemima lived at this address in the early 1900’s. Number
32 Netherton Broad Street has seen new developments in 1995 and many people
now live in the new semi-detached cottages, close to Dunfermline city and
just a short distance from Rolland Street, home of ANDREW CARNEGIE MUSEUM.
At 248 Rolland Street, Dunfermline in 1871 there was a gr.daughter MARY
BIRRELL a scholar, aged 10, born Leslie; grandson WILLIAM BIRRELL,
scholar, born Leslie and Henry’s aunt CHRISTIANA BIRRELL aged 79,
born Freuchie. This seems to be the same Christiana noted previously as
daughter of Henry and Catherine. By 1871 only daughters lived at home,
showing the sons were either married or had left home for work.
CENSUS of 1871 shows:-
Henry (1) Birrell..................Head,
66 years, born Falkland, bootmaker by trade
Mary Birrell.........................Wife, 60 years, born Leslie (nee
Margaret Birrell..................33 years, housekeeper, unmarried, born
Leslie (photo with Jemima)
Elspeth Birrell.....................29 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried,
Janet Birrell.........................27 years, hand loom weaver,
unmarried, born Leslie
Mary Birrell.........................25 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried,
Agnes Birrell.......................25 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried,
Christiana Birrell.................17 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried,
Jemima Ramsay Birrell.......15 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried, born
CENSUS of 1881
shows Henry Birrell as a shoemaker aged 69 years and born Falkland and his
wife Mary as aged 65. Margaret the daughter was aged 42 and was assistant
housekeeper at home. This Margaret died unmarried and thanks to Jim and
Chris Reith of Yorkshire, we have a photo of Margaret, with Jemima as a
young woman. Chris also feels that the Ramsay name was thought to be that of
a family friend and not necessarily related as is mostly the case.The twins
Mary and Agnes were damask linen weavers aged 32, while JEMIMA RAMSAY
BIRRELL was 24 years. So Henry (1) and Mary, in their old age lived at
Dunfermline with four spinster daughters. It is also known that this
Margaret was responsible for communication with sister Elspeth who came to
Australia after her marriage to William Anderson. The census of 1881
brought us the following long awaited answers regarding JAMES BIRRELL
who came to Australia in 1886 with ELSPETH and WILLIAM ANDERSON. As a Scotsman, whose birthplace was noted as Dunfermline on his
Australian marriage certificate, he was difficult to find for many years.
The census listed two young men, living with their grandparents Henry and
Mary at 32 Netherton Broad Street, Dunfermline. They were the long sought
after teenage boys, James aged 14, a tailor and brother William aged 17, a
housepainter. Their birthplace noted as England, was actually Newcastle on
Tyne in England.
HENRY BIRRELL (1)
died 26.9.1885 aged 81 at 32 Netherton Street, Dunfermline. Mary Birrell
(1) continued to live there until her decease on 26.10.1887 aged 71 years.
These dates show some discrepancy in ages, but the informants often never
knew the real truth about birth dates or parents of their deceased
relatives, while census forms only required an age within five years. Henry
and Mary’s son JOHN BIRRELL of Number 1, Hume Street, Clydebank,
Glasgow was the informant at the death of both Henry and Mary. He must have
returned to live at home, where he also died in 1905 aged 49. Jemima Ramsay
(Birrell) Reith lived there also as noted in the information supplied by Jim
and Chris Reith.
at Dunbarton, as the name suggests is on the north bank of the River Clyde,
where shipbuilding, dockyards and factories were the major industries,
accounting for John being there as an engineer. The vessels Q.E.1 and Q.E.2
along with the Queen Mary were built at Glasgow’s Dockyards. Clydebank
suffered a great deal of damage during World War 2. A car ferry operates
from Glasgow to the north side of the Clyde and to Renfrew Co. Broomielaw,
further up toward Glasgow, on the north bank of the Clyde, is where James
Birrell and his aunt Elspeth with Husband William Anderson, boarded the
‘Cloncurry’ for their voyage to Australia in 1896. They disembarked at
Maryborough and Brisbane.
notes that Mary lived with her parents. During our stay in Dunfermline in
1995 we found a death notice for Mary Birrell, quote :- “At 32 Netherton
Broad Street, Dunfermline, Mary (twin) daughter of Henry and Mary. She had
obviously died after the census was taken and before both parents Henry (1)
and Mary (1). Some confirmed dates taken from Carnegie Library at
Dunfermline are listed below
daughter of Henry and Mary died 24.5.1881 at Dunfermline. An Agnes Birrell
died 27.9.1901 at Dunfermline aged 32 Margaret Birrell,
died 1.5.1923 at Dunfermline, daughter of Henry and Mary John Birrell,
son of Henry and Mary died 1.5.1901 aged 49, at Dunfermline Henry Birrell
(1) died 26.9.1885 aged 80 at 32 Netherton Broad Street, Dunfermline Mary Birrell
(1) died 26.10.1887 aged 71 at 32 Netherton Broad Street, Dunfermline
All these death notices
were in the local paper of that time.
HENRY BIRRELL (2)
was a linen draper by profession, noted on certificates as commercial
traveller, which could account for him being away from his family at that
time. Newcastle on Tyne was where Henry Birrell (2) born 1832, came as a
draper, obviously to work. While living in Market Street, in the town
centre, he met Mary Elizabeth Kirk the daughter of James Kirk, described as
an agent. She lived at Pilgrim Street, which runs on to Market Street at
Newcastle on Tyne. Henry Birrell (2) and Mary Elizabeth Kirk married
28.4.1856 at Presbyterian Church of Scotland’s, High Bridge Chapel at
Newcastle on Tyne, U.K.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
is an old Industrial city, but it’s beauty is enhanced by the many,
attractive and interesting bridges which cross the Tyne River, flowing
through the city. In fact the four very interesting and historic bridges add
great charm to the city. The phrase ‘coals to Newcastle’ indicates the
importance of coal mining to Newcastle in early times. Coal was being
shipped to London and elsewhere from the fourteenth century onwards,
although mining had begun many years earlier. During our visit in 1995, we
came across High Bridge, which is an old, narrow, cobbled lane in the centre
of old Newcastle and very close to the adjoining Pilgrim and Market Streets.
It is thought that redevelopment has taken over the chapel site. It is, in
the light of this merchandising, that our Henry Birrell, a draper/commercial
traveller, ventured to Newcastle on Tyne and married Mary Kirk, dau of James
AUSTRALIA and YORKSHIRE
Frank Hughes (unrelated)
of Edinburgh has sent photos of relevant places. Henry (2) and Mary (2) had
two sons born at Newcastle on Tyne, William Birrell being one, b.8.9.1863,
45 Shields St., Newcastle, and the author’s grandfather James, who was
b.6.8.1866 at Union Work House, Newcastle. The other birth found, was that
of Thomas b.8.11.1873 at City Poor House, Craiglockhart, Colinton, near
central Edinburgh. Since making contact with Audrey Taylor in Canada, a
grand daughter of Thomas Birrell, we have learned of another brother Robert
Birrell, who went to Canada and worked for Canadian Pacific Railway.
now a suburb of Edinburgh celebrated 900 years of history in 1995. Much
celebration was enjoyed and a book was written. We attended the historic
‘Church in the Dell’ while visiting that year. To mark 900 years of history
at St.Cuthbert’s Church, a large tapestry was completed over a five year
period, by all the women of the church. We were privileged to be present and
to help raise the large and exquisite tapestry into position. What
amarvellous piece of artistry.
After searching for many
years for HENRY (2) and MARY (2) BIRRELL, it was discovered that
Henry died 6.6.1913 aged 82 at Poor House, Thornton, Parish of Markinch,
Fife. He was the draper and widower, son of Henry (1) & Mary Robertson who
married at Innerleven. The parish of Markinch lies between Kirkcaldy on the
Firth of Forth and Glenrothes, a market town further to the north. Frank
confirmed this detail in 1996, but Mary (Kirk) Birrell is still ‘out there
somewhere’ and must have preceded Henry. The informant at death of Henry (2)
Birrell was governor of the ‘Poor House’. Were none of his children around
at that time ? This Henry (2) outlived his son James who came to Australia
in 1886 and died in 1909. Henry (2) outlived his bachelor brother John
Birrell, an engine fitter, who died of acute pneumonia aged 49, on 28th
April 1901, at 32 Netherton Broad St., Dunfermline, Fife. Henry (2) also
outlived his sister Jemima Ramsay Reith who died 1904 and his sister Mary
Birrell who died 1881.
JEMIMA RAMSAY BIRRELL
b.6.8.1855 at Leslie, was living at 32 Netherton Broad St., Dunfermline at
the time of her marriage to James Reith (2). Jemima and her sisters were all
damask linen weavers. It appears that Jemima inherited the family residence
after the death of her father and mother in 1885 and 1887 respectively.
Jemima m.13.6.1884 to James Reith (2) b.28.1.1860 and son of James Reith (1)
born c.1839 farm labourer and Jane Donald. Jane Reith married secondly in
1864 to John McIntosh. JEMIMA (Birrell) Reith died of cancer on 16th
November 1904 at 29 Alloa Place Edinburgh. At that time her youngest son
David William Reith was seven and the oldest daughter Mary Robertson Reith
was 19 years. Some time after the death of Jemima, James Reith (2) remarried
to Eliza Walker (nee Wilson). Thanks to Jim and Chris Reith we have a couple
of photos of the family - one of Mary Robertson Reith (Jemima’s eldest)
with old ‘Aunt Margit’ (Margaret Birrell), sister of Jemima (Birrell) Reith
and also of Henry (2).
ISSUE to JAMES REITH
(2) and JEMIMA RAMSAY BIRRELL
1. Mary Robertson Reith.
2. James Reith. 3. Robert Reith. 4. Margaret Nicol Reith. 5. Harry
6. Jemima Ramsay Reith. 7. David William Reith. This is line of
family contacts - James and Chris Reith.
2nd sonJAMES REITH
and CHRISTIAN INNES had issue of 10 (ten)
1. Mary Reith. 2. James
Reith. 3. John Reith. 4. David Reith. 5. Margaret Reith. 6. Alexander
7. Grace Reith. 8. George Reith. 9. William Reith. 10. Martin Reith
7th son DAVID
WILLIAM REITH and GLADYS MABEL DEAN had issue :-
1. JAMES REITH married in
Egypt to Brenda Eleanor Ann Clark. He married secondly to Christina Frances
Ekeblad. We left for our trip to the U.K. in March 1995 and both Matthew and
Jim celebrated their birthday on 14th June with lunch at the historic
Lastingham Pub, in the lovely Yorkshire Dales. The similarity between Jim
and Matthew, shown in photos taken that day, is unbelievable, considering
Matt’s gr.gr.grandfather and Jim’s grandmother were brother and sister
BIRRELL FAMILY arrives in AUSTRALIA
The first of our Birrell
family to come to Australia was ELSPETH BIRRELL b.13.6.1840 at
Leslie. She married 31.12.1872 to William W.Anderson at Dunfermline. Elspeth
was aged 32 and William about 30. Their son Andrew Cunning Anderson was born
29.9.1873 Dunfermline, while their daughter Mary Reith Anderson, born in
Dunfermline and died there aged 8. By the dates, it is hard to believe, that
Reith is a family names. William was son of Andrew Anderson, a weaver and
Margaret (Cunning). Elspeth Birrell was a dau/of Henry (1) & Mary
(Robertson) Birrell. Mary was dau/of George Robertson, a linen weaver and
his wife Margaret Nicol, also of Fifeshire.
was the son of Henry (2) and Mary Elizabeth (Kirk) Birrell. He decided to
emigrate with Aunt Elspeth to Australia, the time being just after the death
of his grandfather Henry (1) in 1885 and just before the death of his
grandmother Mary (1) in 1887. James was living with his grandparents at 32
Netherton Broad Street, Dunfermline during the census of 1881. He was a
tailor by trade and aged 14 that year. His brother William, a house painter
aged 15 was also with his grand parents. This confirms that James was 19
years of age when he left Scotland with aunt Elspeth, uncle William and
their only son Andrew Cunning Anderson, who was 13 years of age on arrival
Boarding M.V.‘Cloncurry’ at Greenock on River Clyde at Broomielaw, Glasgow,
were William, Elspeth Anderson (aged 46) son Andrew C.Anderson and nephew
James Birrell. They sailed toward Maryborough in Queensland, via Cape York.
The diary that follows follows that journey. After disembarking at
Maryborough in August 1886, William and his family set about establishing a
business. Obviously an enterprising man, William conducted the first
transport business and horse drawn mail run from their home in Roseneath
Street, Maryborough. The home was small, with brick chimney, whereon hung
Elspeth’s variety of cooking gadgets and bronze bed warmers. However it was
a large allotment to cater for the various types of carriages and number of
horses that William kept stabled.
‘History Of Maryborough’
1842-1976 By the Maryborough, Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society
states ‘ Long after motor transport had taken over, one carrying business
remained to give the city a nostalgic link with the past. Anderson’s
Carrying Service from its inception and during all the years until it ceased
a few years ago, used horses. They had two tabletop lorries, the larger
capable of carrying a load of three tons, drawn by two horses; the smaller
of thirty hundredweight capacity, drawn by one horse. This lorry was
especially popular with children who, until it no longer appeared on the
city street, were allowed to enjoy the experience of riding on it, legs
dangling over the edge.’ end quote. The first plane landed at Ululah,
Maryborough on 3rd August 1820 and Jessie says that her grandmother mother
was pleased to witness the arrival of the first plane before she died in
September that year.
WILLIAM and ELSPETH
ANDERSON - The family eventually
built extensive interests in newspapers and sport, during the following
years. William Anderson died on the 9th October 1917 at Roseneath Street,
aged 75 years. Elspeth had gone to live with her son Andrew before her death
on the 18th September 1920 aged 80. She was quite fond of her rocking chair,
where she sat each morning during her latter years. Jessie recalls her many
stories of her homeland, Scotland. She died in her sleep at her residence 48
Murray Street, Rockhampton. Both William and Elspeth Anderson were laid to
rest at the Maryborough Cemetery.
CRAFTS - MEMORIES of
William(1) Anderson, like
most of the Birrell family were weavers in the linen mills. The flax for
linen mills was grown in Scotland. Elspeth brought to Australia, the
wonderful linen tablecloths and bed linen, as Jessie recalls. The linen
sheets were lovely and cool in Rockhampton’s summer heat. Elspeth was also
clever at knitting for her family. She knitted white cotton bedspreads,
socks for all the family and even curtains for the windows. Elspeth knitted
Jessie a warm half petticoat. Jessie loved her grandmother’s Scottish
stories in her rich Scottish brogue which she shared with her during her
ANDREW CUNNING ANDERSON
William and Elspeth’s only
son Andrew Cunning Anderson returned to visit his family in Scotland in
1948. He kept in touch with his Aunt Margaret Birrell (Aunt Margit to the
Reith family) in Dunfermline, especially during the wartime. Andrew sent her
food parcels regularly and after not hearing from her for some time, decided
to visit her. He was told that she had died. While in Maryborough, Andrew
helped his father William with the mail run and joinery business, before
being apprenticed in the printing industry at Maryborough and Bundaberg.
The following extracts describe the man - Andrew Anderson.
ANDREW’S PUBLIC LIFE
- There was scarcely a major organization or public body which did not
benefit from Anderson’s assistance, but his greatest service to the city was
rendered as Chairman of the Harbour Board (1939-1948) during the difficult
years of the Second World War. He was an active member of the Central
Queensland Advancement League and keenly interested in the development of
Port Alma....... He had no political ambitions.............The ‘Critic’also
became the vehicle for Anderson’s promotion of the eight hour
day......................All sections of the community respected him, from
the humble labourer to business and sporting leaders, for he played a
significant role in moulding the social and industrial life of the city for
more than half a century. Without the medium of the ‘Critic’ which entered
five thousand homes each week, this task would have been more difficult.
OCCASION of ANDREW’S
81st BIRTHDAY - Short extracts
from the ‘Morning Bulletin’ 15.10.1954.
‘Lofty’ Anderson received
the congratulations from a wide circle of friends. He came from Dunfermline
aged 11 years. His first job was with a firm constructing carriages for the
Queensland Railways, but he was soon apprenticed to the printing trade, the
result of which is expressed elsewhere in these pages.
He became the sports
writer and owner of a successful business, which endures until today. Some
notes of interest regarding his own sporting career make for interesting
extracts “........ Mr.Anderson was 83 years ...........Few men have played a
bigger part in the public, commercial and sporting life of Rockhampton over
a period of years and none have been held in higher regard.
..................Mr. Anderson was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and came to
Australia with his parents when 11 years of age. ............Mr.Anderson did
not revisit the land of his birth until 1948. Before leaving he was tendered
a complimentary dinner at which the souvenir card carried over the
photograph of the guest a quotation from Macbeth ‘A gentleman on whom I
built an absolute trust.’ end quote. Funeral moved from St.Andrew’s
Presbyterian Church and was conducted by Rev. G.D.Whitney
ANDREW ANDERSON and
It was at Bundaberg that
Andrew Anderson met Emma Johnston b.20.5.1880 at Bundaberg and whom he
married 1901 at Bundaberg. Emma was a daughter of John James Johnston, a
gunsmith and Emma Price who was also Presbyterian. John Johnston learned
gunshmithing during the Victorian gold rush period. Emma had been a
schoolteacher and kept the books at the City Printing Works. John James
Johnston was a descendent of members of Colonel Bligh’s Corps. His father
was on the First Fleet, that came into Sydney Cove. John left home as a
young lad as he did not get on with his stepmother. He travelled to Eureka
with some miners. Jessie thinks there were 13 children in the Johnston
Household. John Johnston(1) was a shoemaker, then a carpenter and later a
gunsmith. He owned a gunsmith shop in Bundaberg. ANDREW & EMMA ‘At Rest’.
Andrew was b.29.9.1873 and d.7.2.1957 aged 83 and is buried at
Rockhampton Cemetery, where Emma was also laid to rest after her decease
19.5.1931, Nth Rockhampton. She was only 50 years when she died, after a
painful time and under care of a doctor and her loving family.
grateful for many wonderful stories that dear Jessie (Anderson) Bailey,
shared with us over the years, after‘finding’ us in 1988. Again in 1997, we
are grateful to Nell and Joyce for their help in adding to these wonderful
stories for inclusion in this family book. We hope to make contact with some
Birrell families in Scotland eventually. We have forwarded many letters and
printouts to societies and researchers in Scotland over the last few years
as yet, to no avail. We are grateful to the many helpful correspondents
regarding Birrell, who have become our friends and with whom we have enjoyed
a visit, while touring the United Kingdon in 1995. Photos of Birrell
families and graves have given interesting information.
DIARY of WILLIAM
The diary pages were
handed to us by Agnes (Jessie) Bailey. It is part of the diary of William
Anderson who travelled with wife Elspeth, son Andrew and nephew James
Birrell in M.V. ‘Cloncurry’ in 1886. James could read and write and was
Presbyterian. Boarding at Greenock in Scotland, they disembarked at
Maryborough, Queensland, while James continued on to Brisbane. James
disembarked at the port of Brisbane on the 14th August 1886 after leaving
Glasgow on the 18th June 1886. He was a ‘Bounty’ passenger and the motor
vessel, M.V.‘Cloncurry’ was 2500 tons.
one of the more fortunate women, arrived Old Sydney Town prior to 1800. Many
may have been victims of dishonesty and immorality, but many were caught up
in a system that was dreadfully harsh amid the poverty of that time in
history. Esther aged 21, who arrived on the First Fleet, likewise
established a relationship with a free man offering her some protection.
Esther befriended the young marine officer George Johnston. In Newgate
Prison she gave birth to her first child Rosanna, and the letter following
gives detail of her exploits. Writing to her mother on 26th January 1792 she
‘Never will I forget that
sad day when you parted from me when they dragged me off to Newgate Prison
where my little Rosanna was born. It was cruel to send me to seven years of
long exile. What had I done but to try to take a few yards of silk lace that
Rosanna’s father forced me to steal and I was only a girl of 15 years. Our
parting nearly killed me. It was a bitter thing to happen to a Jewish child
and I am still ashamed that I have hurt the Abraham’s name and all our
family who have been good people in London. But nearly six years have passed
since that day of our parting. I am a woman of 21 and I now have a little
boy of two years who is called George Johnston after his father. Rosanna is
growing to be a fine girl and in this healthy climate, she thrives like all
the children born in New South Wales. I have never heard of her father
again, but if you see him,
do not tell him where I am. Some day I am sure that George will marry me and
we will have a family of many children. I met George when they put me upon
Lady Penrhyn at Portsmouth to come to this country. He was a young
officer of 23 and he has since become a captain of the marines. Mother, he
has been a great comfort to me and without him I cannot tell what would have
become of Rosanna and me. George often says that I was the most beautiful
girl he ever saw, with my black hair hanging below my shoulders, my oval
face and almond eyes and many have said the same since and think of me as
the beauty of Botany Bay. On the Lady Penrhyn I was thin and nearly
naked in the rags they gave us to wear but Captain Phillip was kind and good
and got better clothes for us.
The voyage took so long
but they gave us enough to eat and I could feed my baby. George protected me
from the marines, who had their way with some of the other girls. There were
no fallen girls among us but, many of us since our arrival have had to live
with the men and some have married.
In the first two years we
were nearly starved and we thought how cruel they were at home to send us
here and leave us without food for so long. The worst thing was to be
without tea and we had no salt or sugar. I could not keep up my milk for
Rosanna and had to feed her my rations as she would have died without them.
When we arrived at Botany Bay, George told me that the officers thought that
Capotain Cook and the men with him must have been silly to say it was a good
place to make a settlement. The worst thing was that Captain Phillip could
not find water at Botany Bay. Even here at Sydney Cove the soil grows so
little, but we hope to be better off soon because a man called Ruse has
begun to tend maize and wheat up the river at Parramatta. George is trying
to get some land and we hope that he will be given 100 acres at Petersham.
George wants to call it Annandale farm, after the place where he was born in
Scotland. Do not worry about me mother as this will be a good land for
George and me and our children to live in and Rosanna will find a good
husband when she grows up. Tell grandfather that I am happy and still try to
worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the prayers that he taught
me. There are a few Jews here, but George is a Christian and had little
George baptised. The chaplain is also called Johnston and he is a kindly
man. I will ask him to visit you when he goes home (T.T.) By John Molony.
Appreciation to Susannah DeVries for
this quotation from ‘Pioneer Women - Pioneer Land’
From Australian Women’s
Weekly January 1988. THE FIRST LADY of ANNANDALE.
As I rode up the long
driveway toward Anandale House, I saw why it was considered one of the
grandest homes in the colony. And I reflected how lucky I was to obtain an
interview with Esther Johnston , a woman who previously had always refused
to speak of her past. Sydney gossips said that in July 1786 as a 15 year old
unmarried mother, Esther had been sentenced to transportation for
shoplifting lace. On board ship she had fallen in love with young Lieutenant
George Johnston. She had borne him three sons and four daughter and run his
cattle properties extremely profitably, while he was on trial in England for
deposing Governor Bligh in 1808 Rum Rebellion and setting himself up as
Acting Governor of New South Wales.
Esther rose to greet me,
wearing a simple dark dress with lace fichu, a cap on her head such as
befits a woman of her age. I remembered ironically that it was said to be
her fondness for lace that caused her to come to this country. “I am
delighted to meet you” she observed. Her voice was low and gentle, her eyes
were magnetic. In answwer to my tactful questions, she told me of her
terrible journey from England with her young daughter Rosanna, now married
to wealthy landowner Isaac Nicol. Half naked prostitutes and pickpockets
were herded together with other female transportees in the dark, filthy,
airless hold with no sanitary arrangements. She and Rosanna had spent days
crouched in the dark, too terrified to mix with the other women, who
screamed in madness, swore and sought the sexual favours of the crew.
All night she lay racked
by weeping. The handsome young officer in charge of the convicts was
Lieutenant George Johnston. At first she had hated him, feeling he
represented the establishment, who were all against her, like the Julians,
Rosannas father’s family. They were wealthy Spanish Jews who had conspired
to have her arrested under a trumped up charge, so that they could get her
out of the country and divorced from their son, since she was a penniless
orphan with no dowry. Due to her striking good looks she had received many
offers from the officers to share their cabins aboard the Lady Penrhyn
on gthe voyage out but she had refused. George alone had offered her the
hand of friendship. Finally she told George her life story. When the first
Fleet reached Cape Town, George won her heart by buying a cow to provide
milk for Rosanna. When she gave herself to him, he had sworn to love her
forever and protect her and her child in the new colony. She accompanied him
to Norfolk Island, where convict women were bought and sold like cattle,
then they returned to Sydney, where she supervised the building of Annandale
House and ther planting of the Norfolk Pine seedlings they had brought back
to border the driveway. “I was very well respected in certain circles by
this time” she told me. Governor Phillip himself stood godfather to my
Robert, my second baby. George of course was regarded as a hero after he put
down 200 rebels at Rouse Hill, with only a handful of soldiers to help him.
“Governor Macquarie insisted that we marry in church,” she went on “Although
of course we always knew we were married in the eyes of God. Ironically we
married in the year of our silver wedding”.
Now Esther Johnston holds
extensive land grants in her own name and is a respected business woman. So
to the question I had been longing to ask “Why Ma’am, did you not move into
Government House and play the role of Governor’s wife after Captain Bligh
had gone?”.....”For the sake of the children”, she replied.
“They would have been
surrounded by envious people, who would have enjoyed telling them their
mother was a common thief. I could not have borne that”. Her eyes filled
with tears “I could have been a good hostess, though I am shy. But I had to
protect my children and staying at Annandale was better for them. In the end
I was right. It would have been a very short stay in Government House. Now
my husband is back and our family together. The past is the past and nothing
can change it”. From - Susannah DeVries.
JAMES BIRRELL to
BRISBANE - JAMES
became a Military Tailor, while
residing at Wharf Street, Brisbane. James worked as a tailor from Boundary
Street, between Bradley and Milne Streets in Gregory Terrace, Brisbane in
1892/1893. From the river to Gregory Terrace, on the left hand side,
between Bradley & Milne Streets, and fourth house. James formed a
partnership with Mr.Geary to become Military Tailors.
was at Fortesque Street, Spring Hill, about that time and moved later to
Rosa Street, Spring Hill, between Dickson Street and York Parade on the left
hand side and the third house from Dickson Street - in Fortesque Street.
That is a Post Office Directory for the time.
Regarding JAMES BIRRELL
- Post Office Directory states:- ‘Geary,
Birrell and Co. at York Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane’
and also in 1895/1896. ‘Geary, Birrell
and Co. Military Tailors at Caxton Street, Petrie Terrace‘.
They were at CaxtonStreet, between Chapple and
Hale Streets, on left hand side and second house. A Second Hand Dealer was
on the corner and police sergeant on the other side. Geary, Birrell and
Company were on the left hand side from Judge Street, eight properties
further along in 1896/1897. Post Office Directory shows that James lived at
Dickens Street, South Brisbane in 1899. After that time, being married and
with children, he moved to Short Street Morningside to continue. Post Office
Directories 1906-1909 have James Birrell listed as a tailor in Short Street
Four years after his
arrival in this country he had established himself in business. JAMES
BIRRELL married EMMAJANE MONTGOMERY
at Arthur Street, New Farm, the residence of Rev.James Stewart and under
the Rites of the Presbyterian Church on 24th December 1890. A notice was
placed in Brisbane Courier on 2.1.1891. The family were at Fortesque Street
at that time. Emma was born in 1867 at Southampton, Hampshire to Thomas
Montgomery and Celia Skeats. She was from a seafaring family, as Thomas was
a ‘Gentleman’s Servant’ or ‘Steward’ on vessels plying the route from
England to Australia.
sailed from London on the ‘Jumna’ boarding the vessel of 3377 tons on the
7th March 1890, arriving in Brisbane on 2nd May 1890. She could read and
write and a Presbyterian. Her mother Celia aged 39, with three other
children, Rhoda aged 6, Arthur aged 9 and William aged 14, came a little
later on vessel ‘Dorunda’ to join her husband. Thomas was already in
Brisbane, obviously after resigning from the P.S.N. & O.Shipping Lines, to
make a new life in this country for his family. Celia departed from
Gravesend, London on 10.6.1890 arriving in Brisbane on 5.8.1890
CHILDREN born to JAMES
& EMMA BIRRELL
The first son born to
James and Emma Birrell, was Claude Douglas Birrell, at Spring Hill
3.1.1892. The second son Robert James Birrell was born 1894 and died young.
Third child, daughter Eva Christina Birrell was born 25.8.1896, before James
William Birrell was born 1898. He died aged three months, a very sad, but
common occurence in those days. Rhoda Miriam Birrell was next daughter born
27.4.1899 followed by Ernest Robertson Birrell on 13.12.1902. The last child
Andrew Thomas Birrell was born on 6.10.1909, which was sadly after the death
of his father JAMES BIRRELL husband of EMMA JANE.
The death of James aged
42, must have been a blow to Emma, who had by now, lost two sons and had to
support four children, while expecting her fifth child. James suffered
pneumonia, typoid and heart failure and died on 22.4.1909 at Brisbane
Hospital. He was laid to rest the next day at the Bulimba Cemetery in an
unmarked grave. (Grave 76 - Block 11.) The Methodist minister who
officiated was William.S.Smail, while Emma Jane was informant. Andrew was
born 5½ months later.
EMMA JANE BIRRELL
now had to provide for her family, as there was no pension in those days.
The Post OfficeDirectories of 1909-1910 record Emma Jane Birrell taking in
laundry work for some years and moving to Park Road, Wooloongabba. Matthew
can remember being taken to her house in Park Road, (Highgate Hill.) There
are photos of that home. About two years later, Emma, who was aged 43
married secondly on 24th February 1912 to Charles Benjamin Bateman (part
blind) and had no issue.
- Charles had previously married Sophia Murfin and had son Ebenezer Jubilee
b.1887 and daughter Elizabeth Esther born 1885. Charles Bateman was listed
at Eton Street, Nundah in 1906 and at Moorooka in 1907. He is noted in
directories 1916/1917 and in 1923 at Park Road West, Dutton Park or
Wooloongabba, but gone by 1926. A Charles Bateman was at 89 Arthur Street,
New Farm in 1926. In later years Ernest Birrell often visited Ebenezer
Bateman of Sandgate. At that time of Emma’s marriage to Charles in 1912,
Eva was 15 years, Rhoda was aged 13, Ernest aged 10 and Andrew was just a
toddler. Claude born 1891 was married to Jane on 12th May 1910.
EMMA JANE BATEMAN
is later found listed in Post Office Directories 1926/1930 as a resident of
Bald Knob, just up the road from Landsborough. This means she was about 60
years and was living near her sons and daughters. Ernest and Rhoda were in
the Post Office Directories during the same years. The family appeared to
move to the country having interest in the land and many romances -
marriages took place. In later years, when Ernest and his family lived at 25
Wahcumba Street, Dutton Park, Emma must have lived nearby as they saw each
other on a regular basis. Emma died at age 80 in Brisbane on the 3rd January
1949, a day Matthew remembers quite well. As it was a public holiday,
Matthew aged 11, was looking forward to an excursion, which was cancelled of
course. She was laid to rest the next day, with her deceased brother Arthur
Montgomery, at Dutton Park Cemetery Grave 139, Z6 - Section N.
JAMES BIRRELL and EMMA
JANE MONTGOMERY issue:- 1.CLAUDE DOUGLAS BIRRELL. - 2. ROBERT JAMES BIRRELL. - 3. EVA CHRISTINA
BIRRELL. - 4. JAMES WILLIAM BIRRELL. - 5. RHODA MIRIAM BIRRELL. - 6. ERNEST
ROBERTSON BIRRELL - Matthew Birrell’s line. Ernest married 3.5.1933 Ellen
Jane DeLanty b.19.6.1912 at Hunchy. Ellen was a daughter of Thomas DeLanty
and wife Letitia Ann (nee Maltman). Letitia Ann married first in 1893 to
Robert William Boyden (1) who died 1896 aged 28, leaving Letitia with a
small son and another expected in a few months. These boys were John Joseph
Boyden and Robert Boyden (2) a bachelor. Tom married Letitia Ann at
Clermont, Queensland and it seems he became stepfather to the two boys as a
lovely relationship continued throughout their lives.
a blacksmith by trade, began his college course at Ben Lomond, New South
Wales. Ernest died accidently at Lawnton Railway Station, following his
regular and loved visit to the local show. Ellen died accidently on 4th
January 1970, while Ernest died on 30th July 1976. They are both laid to
rest at Pinaroo Lawn Cemetery at Aspley, Brisbane. ISSUE to ERNEST AND
1. Matthew Robertson
Birrell; 2. Joy Miriam Birrell; 3. Lynette Ann
Birrell; 4. Kathryn Julie Birrell
Diary of WILLIAM ANDERSON
Voyage from Scotland to
Queensland on the M.V.Cloncurry, leaving Greenock on June 16, 1886 and
arriving at Maryborough. The Cloncurry docked in Brisbane on 14th August,
1886. William’s wife Elspeth Anderson nee Birrell and son Andrew Cunning
Anderson (my father) left home in Dunfermime, Fifeshire, Scotland June
16th 1886. Also travelling with them was a nephewJames Birrell, a tailor of 19
They travelled on Motor
Vessel ‘Cloncurry’ using sail when possible.
We left the Broomielaw at 20 mins past 10 am and we got a beautiful sail
down to the Cloncurry at Greenock. When we got aboard we got our dinner
consisting of broth beef and potatoes. We sailed between 4 and 5 p.m. We
sailed at halfpast four. We went a very slow pace. We got a grand view of
Ailsa Craig, Arran and other places. We passed a good many ships on our
way. There was one with our chief officer, we gave it a great cheering.
Some of our mess are just away to get the tea. So we will not be long on
sitting down to it. Went to bed at 10 o’clock.
Rose at 5 a.m. There was some vomiting before I came down from the deck and
when we came down there was some here.
Rose early had a bath and walk on deck before breakfast, which we had at 8
o'clock a.m. We are under full sail and going at a good pace. Found six
stowaways in the hold. Locked them in the women’s bath room. We are in St
Georges Channel at present. Passed Ark lights nigh 12.40 p.m. Got dinner at
1.pm and saw the coast of Wales. Passed the Lucifer Shoals ship light. The
Captain had to get the stowaways away and asked a fishing boat to take them;
but it was not returning to land for three days and would not take them. We
called into Wexford bay and signalled another vessel which took the
stowaways away. See a steamer and light house in the distance. Passed
lighthouse and two cargo sailing ships - one of which I had a good look at
through a telescope - 6 o'clock tea. There were watches in the night and I
was on first watch.
Sunday June 20.
The doctor would not conduct the church service as there were a good lot of
women sick. So we made a meeting among ourselves in the forenoon and at
Rose early, breakfasted at 8 a.m., got bread and butter, coffee. Bread is
very good but the butter is bad. Coffee not very good either. Rather have
home coffee. Found three stowaways in the hold and they are set to work.
Dined at 1.pm. and got potatoes, cold beef and broth, but they are very
thin. We are off the coast of Spain and are getting fine weather and got
through the Bay of Biscay all very well.
June 22. Rose at ½ past 7, had a
walk on deck. Saw a good number of vessels during the day. Had dinner at 1
o'clock. 4.20 pm. sighted Cape St Roca (Portugal). Saw pleasure boats and at
4.40 saw four porpoises. After tea saw a great school of porpoises. Went to
bed between 9 and 10 and had a good night’s rest. Before tea last night had
a red herring which we got the cook to cook. The coffee and tea smells like
Scrubbing up the floors with dry brick. There is a deep fog over the water -
foghorns blowing. We are on the coast of Portugal passed steamships and
porpoises too. There is a deep fog over the water and the foghorn is blowing
every minute, it is clearing away now.
June 24. We passed Gilbralter
through the night; but we saw the mountains of Spain covered with snow. Got
porridge and molasses for breakfast and coffee.
We are getting up our boxes to get
things we need from them and they are going down in the afternoon after we
get dinner. We passed a British Man of War in the forenoon and gave three
hearty cheers. We passed Algiers and got a grand sight of it. There were
some grand buildings in it and it is surrounded with hills on all sides. We
are passing along the coast of Africa and see a great many gentlemen’s
houses. Some are four storey and all have flat roofs. Some said they had
seen men through the glass. We were very close to it. It was grand scenery,
saw a light burning on a point of rock. There was a fog over some of
mountains. We saw the part where it was cultivated but the rest was all
June 26. Writing letters for
Malta. Going along the coast of Tripoli, just seeing the hills and
mountains. Passed the mail boat going home. Concert down No.1 hatch. There
was a fellow sleeps beside me, who can play the crackers, whistle, banjo,
concertina and melodian accordion. I was not at the concert, because he was
playing the crackers with the fiddle and whistle.
doctor had a service in the forenoon, in the English style. There were a
great many there to hear him. Some of the passengers began singing hymns in
the afternoon. Arrived in Malta about 11 o'clock and rose out of bed to see.
It was a beautiful sight. All the streets were lighted up and shipping on
We took in coal; and such a great number of boats selling all kinds of
articles, fruit tobacco, clothes etc etc. Malta is a beautiful place. So
splendid to see all the houses clustered together. They are a kind of
yellow. There were divers diving for money. We left Malta about 11 o1clock
a.m. There were a good many Men of War in the Harbour. There are a good
many infantry regiments lying here. We gave the Gordon Highlanders three
hearty cheers. We were coming away. There was a great number of small boats
about. They were selling canaries. The doctor bought eight canaries along
with a cage and they are whistling like to kill themselves. In fact I never
saw such a splendid sight before.
Sighted a three masted schooner, I think she signalled to us, because we
changed our course and made towards her. When we were getting near to them,
they sent a boats crew asking for water. We gave them some. They were dark.
I don't know to what country they belong. Some said Italians, and some
Turks. The sailors said they hailed from Antwerp in Belgium and bound for
Alexandria in Egypt. We gave them six little casks full, away with them.
June 30. The library is opened
and I am getting out books. There is a young man, a lad who sleeps down our
hatch very ill. He seems to have great difficulty to breathe, for he is
always holding his breast. I heard he had fallen down the stairs and broken
a rib. He is a miner and had got two ribs broken before down the pit; and
they have to carry him downstairs at night and bring him up on deck in the
morning. There was an inspection of all the working utensils on the ship, by
the Captain and the Doctor. We had to have them all polished up and all the
place scrubbed up. The Captain said that our mess all taken together and the
floor seats etc taken in them all, that it was the cleanest corner of the
July 1. Expecting to be in Port
Said tonight or early tomorrow morning. We arrived at ½ past 3. Just when
daylight was coming in. We heard cocks crowing and dogs barking. Here are
some grand houses as she came into the harbour. There is one, has a large
spire like a monument at the back of it. It has not such an attracting
appearance as Malta has but there are some grand buildings in it. We seen
men walking about on shore. The gentlemen in their suits of whites and some
with just a long white gowns on. They are not allowed to sell things to the
ship as they do at Malta. The coal heavers are not so great workers as the
Maltese. They sometimes lay down among coals and sit and yatter to one
another, like so many monkeys.
July 2. We sailed between 11 and
12 am. and passed down the Suez Canal with a steamer at the back of us. We
passed 3 steamers going to Port Said and two of them had to stand and let us
pass, while we stood at one of the stations to let the other one pass and it
was a chinese boat named China No.1 or 7. When we were standing at the
station all the little Arabs were crying "Sir -biscuit - Sir" and then we
threw over some. You never seen such a rush a scramble. There was nearly a
fight between a boy and a girl. While we were throwing our biscuits, four
Arabs came tramping along and were trying to get biscuits too. There were
some of passengers went ashore in one of the boats along with the 3rd mate.
They were getting sand to sprinkle over the floors after they scrubbed with
a dry brick. There was a lad about 16 cast his coat and jumped into the
water and began swimming about. When he came out he took off his trousers
and plunged in again. The sailor stowed the clothes away in the boat and
then shoved off the boat so he had to swim to ship but it was not 10 yards
distant. After the ship passed us we got ropes off the shore and steamed. We
didn't go at night.
July 3. Passed Isomalia and the
Bitter Lakes. Saw some Arabs with their goats. Saw Suez at a distance.
After we were three miles from Suez there was something wrong with the
engines and it was seven hours till it was mended. It was 9 o'clock ere we
July 4. In the Red Sea passed an
Island. Dreadful hot. It is a rough sea, saw a vessel which seemed to be
wrecked. Past two other steamers.
Hotter than yesterday. Some were sleeping on deck at night but I slept in my
bed and I could hardly sleep as it was that hot.
Not so hot - the sun not so strong. Turned very hot at mid-night. Got beds
white washed below.
The hottest day we have had. Expect to be in Aden on Friday.
July 8. Arrived in Aden between 10
& 11 o'clock at night. It is built on hills and there are hills around it.
There were some boats came over to the ship selling feathers; but they were
not allowed to sell them. There were a good deal of boys diving for
pennies. The blacks would not eat the pudding we threw to them. They just
smelt it and threw it away and they would not eat the bread and butter; but
they ate the dry bread. They filled in the coal through the night and we
steamed away before breakfast time.
This is the end of the
diary regarding the journey of the M.V. Cloncurry. (sailed when the wind
This vessel left Greenock
16th June 1886 and arrived at Qld. Brisbane 14 August 1886.
Jessie Bailey writes:-‘ I
dont know why this diary was not continued. My father, Andrew Canning
Anderson son of William and Elspeth Anderson (nee Birrell) told me in his
later years, that the Cloncurry crossed the the Indian Ocean probably
picking up coal en route. They came via Torres Strait and down the east
coast of Queensland., stopping at Cooktown, where the local folk and miners
from the gold fields met the boat. The Queenslanders said it was cold and
many Scots sold their clothing, Harris Tweeds and plaids etc., as they
thought it never gets cold in Queensland. By the time the ship reached the
Gladstone area, all felt cold and the folk who had sold their wearing
apparel had no warm clothes. So the Captain asked permission of those with
boxes in the hold below, to allow them to be brought up and clothing given
to those in need, which was done. My father and his parents landed in
Hervey Bay and settled in Maryborough, Queensland.