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Clan Birrell

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.

Here is a detailed account of the Birrell family kindly provided by Matt & Thelma Birrell

Matt & Thelma Birrell

  • Birrell - First Families and Places
  • Kingdom of Fife and Census Returns. Henry Birrell and Mary Robertson Family
  • 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
  • Acknowledgements


FALKLAND 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 on TWEED 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.

FALKLAND 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 BIRRELL married 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.

CENSUS 1861 shows 5 children born to WILLIAM & ELSPETH BIRRELL, 48 Porch Cottages, Leslie.

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 grandmother)
3. Henry (Harry) Birrell born 11th October 1804 , baptised 21st October 1804 at Falkland
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

HENRY BIRRELL, 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.

MARKINCH 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.

INNERLEVEN 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

DUNFERMLINE 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. Dunfermline is 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.

FREUCHIE (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.

LESLIE 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.

COMPLETE FAMILY  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 grandfather)
3.  Margaret Birrell............... born   23. 8.1834  (after Robertson grandmother)
4.  William Birrell.................. born     5. 4.1836  (first William deceased)
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 Christiana)
13. Jemima Ramsay Birrell... born     6. 8.1855 at Newton of Falkland

CENSUS of 1851

Henry Birrell............44 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 unmarried
William Birrell..........14 years     Scholar, born Leslie, unmarried
David Birrell.............12 years     Druggist apprentice, born Leslie
Elspeth Birrell..........10 years     Scholar, born Leslie (married W.Anderson)
Janet Birrell..............  8 years     Scholar, born Leslie (married Robert Stobie)
Mary Birrell..............  6 years     Scholar, born Leslie  (twin)
Agnes Birrell............  6 years     Scholar, born Leslie  (twin) (married Wm.Johnston)
John Birrell...............   1 year      Became an engineer at Glasgow - died at Dunfermline family home.

JAMES BIRRELL 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 ?


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 Largo, Fifeshire
Elspeth ................................daughter, 58 years, flax mill worker, born Falkland
Mary....................................daughter, 40 years, born Weymss, Fifeshire
Mary Ann, 20 yrs, born Aberdeen, Scotland to Catherine Birrell & James Stewart. Agnes..................................daughter, 32 years, born Weymss, Fifeshire
Thomas Johnston..............grandson, 11 years, scholar, born Leslie, Fifeshire.

THOMAS JOHNSTON 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.

Henry Birrell..................54 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 Robertson)
Margaret Birrell..................33 years, housekeeper, unmarried, born Leslie (photo with Jemima)
Elspeth Birrell.....................29 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried, born Leslie
Janet Birrell.........................27 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried,  born Leslie
Mary Birrell.........................25 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried, born Leslie
Agnes Birrell.......................25 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried, born Leslie
Christiana Birrell.................17 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried, born Leslie
Jemima Ramsay Birrell.......15 years, hand loom weaver, unmarried, born Leslie

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.

ClYDEBANK 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.

CENSUS 1881 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

Mary Birrell, 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 Kirk. 


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.

COLINTON, 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).


1. Mary Robertson Reith.  2. James Reith.  3. Robert Reith.  4. Margaret Nicol Reith.  5. Harry Reith.
6. Jemima Ramsay Reith. 7. David William Reith. This is line of family contacts - James and Chris Reith.

2nd son  JAMES 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 Reith
 7. Grace Reith.  8. George Reith.  9. William Reith. 10. Martin Reith


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 and Jim’s grandmother were brother and sister 


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.

JAMES BIRRELL 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 in Australia.

M.V. ‘CLONCURRY’ 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.


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 childhood. 


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 reading.

 ‘OBITUARY’ 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


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.

We are 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.


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.

ESTHER ABRAHAMS, 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 explains :-

‘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 Juliano    

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. End Quote....  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.

THOMAS MONTGOMERY 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 Caxton Street, 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 Morningside.

Four years after his arrival in this country he had established himself in business. JAMES BIRRELL married EMMA JANE 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.

EMMA MONTGOMERY 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


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 5 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 BATEMAN - 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.

THOMAS DeLANTY, 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 ELLEN BIRRELL

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 nephew James Birrell, a tailor of 19 years.

They travelled on Motor Vessel ‘Cloncurry’ using sail when possible.

June 17. 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.

June 18. 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.

June 19. 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 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 night.

June 21. 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 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 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 senna.

June 23.  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.

June 25. 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 shrubs.

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.

June 27.The 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 the river.

June 28. 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.

June 29. 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 ship.

July 1. Expecting to be in Port Said tonight or early tomorrow morning. We arrived at 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 could sail.

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.

July 5. 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.

July 6. Not so hot - the sun not so strong. Turned very hot at mid-night. Got beds white washed below.

July 7. 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 suited).

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.