McInnes Family History

by the late Adrian McInnes

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Donald McInnes (1789-1857) was the son of John and Mary McInnes and his wife Margaret (Peggy) (1798-1868) was the daughter of Donald and Marian McGregor. Donald and Margaret arrived in Sydney aboard the "George Fyfe" on the 23rd January, 1840.

With them came their nine children '- John (1816-1897), Angus (1817-1888), Gregor
(1822-1897), Donald (1826-1902), Charles (1827-1900), Mary (1827- ?), Ann (1830-?), Hugh (1832-1881) and Peter (1834-1880).

Also on board the "George Fyfe" was James, Donald's brother, who did not leave descendants.

It is quite possible that a Lachlan and Flora McInnes, who were also on board, were Donald's brother and sister since their parents' names were John and Mary McInnes and Baptismal records show that a Margaret Constantine (Flora's married name) was godmother to Angus's son, Cornelius, thereby strongly suggesting a connection. If so, there are probably a lot more Mclnneses in Australia than we know of, who are distant relations.

It is not possible to trace the family back further because the Moidart Parish Register only commenced in 1829, the year of the Catholic Emancipation Act. The Register does however, record the baptism of children of Donald and Margaret, Ann (29/6/1830) and Hugh (20/11/1832) and gives their residence as Eilean Shona, a tiny island off the mainland of Moidart, Argyll, which can be reached by a ford at low tide.

The "George Fyfe", a four hundred and sixty ton barque, sailed from Tobermory Mull on the 6th September, 1839 and reached Sydney 131 days later. There were 178 migrants on board being 71 men, 60 women, 28 boys and 19 girls. Donald's occupation, according to the ship's records, was shepherd as was that of his sons, John and Angus. Gregor's occupation was shoemaker.

The report of the ship's surgeon Andrew Liddel (the master was Mr. George Pike) was required to state "whether and how often Divine Service was performed on board, the respective numbers of Protestants and Catholics, whether a school was established and how many attended, what regulations were established for the preservation of health, cleanliness etc, what occupations and amusements recommended and encouraged to prevent idleness and preserve contentment and cheerfulness". The surgeon reported that Divine Service was held every Sunday except for tho when bad weather prevented the Services, there were 124 Protestant and 54 Catholic emigrants on board: a Hugh McDonald held evening prayers in Gaelic; there was a school with 30 pupils. The report also shows that a strict routine in relation to hygiene was promoted. If the surgeon's report be correct, and there is no reason to think otherwise, the ship was well run and although accommodation must have been cramped and uncomfortable particularly in bad weather, it does appear that the voyage was a good one.

Why did they come? It would almost certainly have not been by choice. During early Highland Clearances in 1794, a number of families including Mclnneses were moved from the inland to the sea at Moidart, a place already well populated. It is not known if Donald and/or Margaret or their families came to Moidart as a result of the Clearances. It is, however, clear that the Clearances caused them to leave Scotland. There was not.a living to be made and economic necessity forced their departure. Emigration was carried out under the supervision of Government officials. There are many records over the years of sad scenes as Highlanders left their native land for North America and for the colonies, including the Australian colonies, as a result of the Clearances. It is more than likely that it was a very sad Donald and Margaret who left family and friends at Eilean Shona, knowing full well that they would not see many of them again. Some would very likely have themselves, been forced to follow.

The introduction of the black faced sheep toa lesser extent, cattle, into the Highlands caused the Clearances and forced the emigration of the people who had previously lived on the land. The McInneses were to become, just. like thousands of others, involved in building up wool and beef industries in their new lands, which, a comparatively short space of time, would destroy the wool and cattle industries in the Highlands. Such are the ironys (some would say the retribution, in view of the heartless way the Clearances were carried out) of history.

Whatever the circumstances of leaving Scotland, the three McInnes families from Moidart were promptly employed upon arrival by Lachlan Macalister of Clifton, a 1,100 acre dairy farm near Picton. Macalister had previously commanded the mounted police in the Bathurst and Goulburn districts and owned thousands of acres in the Taralga area, which he called Strathaird, after his native place on the Isle of Skye.

It is most likely that the place of initial employment would have been in the Taralga area rather than Picton. Flora gave her address as Strathaird when she married Patrick Constantine of Richlands on the 10th April, 1841. Rhyanna was Angus McInnes' address when he married Annabella.Nicolson of Strathaird at St. Peter and Paul's, Goulburn on the 28th April, 1844 and when Gregor McInnes was married to Anne Gibson on 3rd May, 1852 by the priest from St. Peter and Paul's, the residence of both was given as Tarlo River. Their witnesses, Donald McInnes and Phoebe Gibson, the bridegroom's brother and the bride's sister were themselves married at Grants Flat by the priest from St. Peter and Paul's on the 18th October, 1853.

When Gregor's son Donald was baptized with his cousin Jessie, daughter of Donald and Phoebe on the 17th March, 1853, the address of both families was given as the Tarlo River. It appears that the address Tarlo River was an alternative for Middle Arm, the address given by Gregor and Ann when their daughter, Annie, was baptised with her cousin Andrew, son of Donald and Phoebe.

The first land purchased in Australia by Donald's branch of the family was by Angus' in May, 1850.

Donald Sr. purchased land in 1852 and both portions are now included in Ivy Lodge, Mr. Don McInnes' property. The register of Land Purchases also shows that Angus, said to be of Cottle Wolley) purchased 30 acres of land near the head of Middle Arm of Tarlo Creek on the 1st May_ 1851. Gregor purchased 30 acres in the same area on the 29th November, 1859.

Donald McInnes Sr. died at Middle Arm on 1st March 1857 and Margaret died 18th May, 1848. Both are buried at North Goulburn Cemetery, where their headstones can be seen.

Angus remained at Middle Arm and is buried in the graveyard at Ivy Lodge. Gregor and Donald went to Lake Cargelligo, almost certainly sometime after 1879 and died there. Mary married Alexander Macdonald on 27th August, 1851 and apparently continued to live in the Goulbourn area. Nothing is known of Ann at the present time and the other children of Donald and Margaret did not have families. It would be quite interesting to discover what Ann did, particularly if she has descendants living.

Whilst descendants are scattered far and wide, quite a number have continued to live in the Middle Arm/Goulburn and Lake Cargelligo areas. Family members are asked to supply detailed family historys showing names, dates of birth, dates of marriages, names of spouses, children, dates of deaths and details of family history. Only by receipt of such information is it possible to build up a complete family picture.

(I am indebted to Bishop John Cullinane whose careful and painstaking researches have produced most of the above information. I am also indebted to Mr. Don and Mr. Neil McInnes for their researches, particularly into land transactions).

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