The Australian Immigrants
Many McRae families travelled to the continent of Australia about the 1850s.
This was the period of the Victorian gold-rush, and many farms were paralysed
as their employees deserted for Ballarat and Mt. Alexander to try their luck.
In an attempt to rectify the shortage of farm workers, a system was instituted
under which intending migrants from Britain were encouraged to sign indentures
to employers in Victoria for a specified period.
One Highlander who signed was Malcolm McRae from Portree, Skye. His oldest
son, Finlay, had migrated two years earlier and was at Terang, where an Uncle
Farquhar resided. Malcolm set sail with the remainder of his family on August
4th, 1852 from Birkenhead in the ship Ticonderoga.
Although the journey was a fast one for the time – three months – diseases
such as dysentery and typhus broke out on the ship, killing one hundred people
before the ship reached Port Phillip Heads on November 3rd. Once through the
Heads, the ship anchored off Point Nepean at a spot now officially known as
Ticonderoga Bay. Temporary accomodation was erected on shore and on November
6th the sick people were landed.
It was there, within the Heads, that the McRae tragedy began. Janet, the only daughter, and Malcolm (2), their youngest son, both died. Farquhar (6) followed on November 22nd, Helen herself on January 3rd, 1853, and John (15) on January 22nd. Subsequently, a tombstone was erected to commemorate their deaths.
Eventually, the diseases ran their course and the ship completed her journey
to the Port of Melbourne. Malcolm went on to complete his indenture at Llangi
Walli, but his movements after that are difficult to piece together. Malcolm
eventually died on August 18th, 1872 at the residence of his son Finlay, at
Darraweit Guim, following a brief illness aged 74 years.
Christopher and Mary
Malcolm's son, Christopher, met a girl of eighteen named Mary Wright. They
were married at her home in Merriang on November 1st, 1864, aged twenty-nine
and nineteen respectively. They celebrated their diamond aniversary in 1924,
and indeed lived together until Christopher's death in 1932 – sixty-eight years
of married life. They had fourteen children, all of whom lived to adulthood.
Herbert and Maggie
Christopher's and Mary's third child, a son named Herbert Farquhar, married Maggie Leggat Morrison in 1899 and had a family of seven children, the youngest being a son Keith Douglas.
Keith and Irene
Keith married Irene Lydia Martin in 1940, and had a family of three children, two daughters, Ailsa and Heather, and a son Douglas – and that's where I fit in.
I married an English lass, Marlene, and we have three sons, Ashley, Haydyn and Duncan.
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