CHAPTER NINE Argyll:- A Rich Variety of Ancestors

There are many stories and traditions associated with the Cameron branch of the family, some seemingly more reliable than others, but I will start with the facts. Jessie Cameron was born in the wild and remote western highlands of Scotland, at Sunart in Argyllshire, probably around 1830. Her father's name was James Cameron. Jessie's mother was Ann Cameron, possibly born in Ardnamurchan in July 1809. Cameron was her name before her marriage as well as after, as she was the daughter of Alexander Cameron a farmer, and Jessie Campbell, a dressmaker. An announcement of the marriage between Anna Cameron and James Cameron appeared in the 'Caledonian Mercury' and 'Inverness Journal' in April 1829. The marriage took place on the 17th of March at Camusines (on the Ardnamurchan peninsula near Loch Sunart). Anna was named as the youngest daughter of the late captain Alexander Cameron of Glenborodale, and James was of Reshiput (a location I have been unable to identify. Resipole is the only name remotely like it in the Sunart region.) 1

Loch Sunart, Argyllshire

Another descendant of James and Ann Cameron, Kaye McFarlane of Echuca, has provided some background to the migration of the Camerons in an article in "Bridges and Branches" the journal of the Echuca-Moama Family History Group, following a talk on highland migration from Dr James Donaldson in 2003. "Life was tough in the Highlands in the 1830's. Many people were living in appalling conditions; the crofts were too small to support expanding families; kelping was no longer as profitable; men were forced to travel to the Lowlands in search of seasonal work, disrupting family life and tenants were turned out to make way for sheep grazing land. Families lived in squalor in one-roomed huts which they shared with their animals. The years of 1836-8 had particularly high rainfall and the peat was so saturated that it was useless as fuel and the crops failed. People were cold, starving and life was miserable.

John Dunmore Lang's Bounty Scheme (1837-1841) sought to bring out Scottish Highlanders to the Australian colonies. Lang believed that although poor, they epitomized the moral values and solid work ethic which would improve the tone of Australian society which was largely convict based in the 1830's. They were honest, God-fearing and hard-working free settlers. There were 20 ships in the original Bounty Scheme which gave assisted passage to about 4000 Scots between 1837-40" 2

James and Ann migrated with their children in 1839 as part of this scheme and sailed from Tobermory on the Island of Mull, on the 28 October 1838 aboard the "British King". According to the passenger list, James was a 38 yr-old farmer, his wife was a 30 yr-old servant and the names and ages of their children were Jessie (10); John (8); Alexander (6); Dugald (4); Margaret (2), whilst an infant Jane was born during the voyage. They were also accompanied by a 17 yr old nephew, James Cameron. Sadly Jane died after arrival in Port Phillip at the age of 7 months. Both James and Ann came from Ardnamurchan (on the mainland just across the water from Tobermory), they were literate and belonged to the Church of Scotland. The older children were fortunate in that they were able to attend a school that had been established on board and '35 scholars attended regularly - all of whom made great progress.' It was also noted that, 'whenever weather permitted they were made to appear on deck' and 'the greatest attention was paid to cleanliness.' The ship's surgeon was happy to report that 'all the immigrants have arrived in the colony in a healthy state.' On 2 March 1839, the 'Sydney Gazette' reported, 'The principal part of the emigrants on the British King are farm labourers and shepherds. They are a healthy and respectable sort of people. Great credit is due to the officers and surgeons on board for the cleanly state of the vessel. Nevertheless there were seven deaths on board, one adult of consumption and six small children.' 3

As local settlers were not particularly interested in hiring men with large families at this time, Governor Gipps was persuaded to send, at Government expense, 48 families from the British King on to the Port Phillip district of NSW where labour was scarce. The Camerons were among the two hundred who were transferred to the "John Barry" which under the command of its master J Robson arrived in Port Phillip on April 28th 1839. The couple's nephew James Cameron, remained in Sydney but later made his way overland to western Victoria in the company of the McEachern family who had also embarked on the "British King". In fact James married Catherine McEachern at Goulburn on 18th May 1842 while en route to Victoria. The "John Barry" was a vessel of 520 tons which had previously sailed from Sheerness in Nov 1838 with a load of 320 convicts which had been discharged in Sydney after its arrival on March 22nd. At least it would have been less crowded with only 200 free settlers aboard! 4

Life in Port Philip did not get off to a great start. According to Dr Donaldson as quoted by Kaye McFarlane 'when they disembarked at Williamstown, no shelter was available and they had to spend their first night in the open. William Lonsdale found 'a miserable hut' to accommodate those who had fallen ill with typhus fever and dysentery." No doubt things improved after this and at least there would have been work available for those who were healthy. How long the family remained in Port Philip is unknown. There is no record of the birth of another son James who seems to have been born in the following year, but unfortunately tragedy was to strike the new arrivals not long after that. James, the father of the young family, died, and was buried from St Andrews Presbyterian church in Geelong on Jan 5th 1841 (in fact his is only the second entry in the burial register). One would imagine that his young widow would have faced an enormous struggle to provide for her six surviving children by then ranging in age from 12 yrs to less than 12 months. However a little over three years later she re-married, to a Robert Wilson. The marriage took place in St Andrews on March 27th 1844, was performed by the Rev A Love (who had also performed the burial of James) and witnessed by David Fisher and John Calvert. 5 Unfortunately a double tragedy was to strike shortly afterwards. Firstly a child born to the couple died in infancy 6 and then in May of 1845 Robert was accidentally killed when the dray he was driving overturned in the Barrabool Hills. The accident was extensively covered in the 'Geelong Advertiser' of May 10th 7. Ann was again widowed and her children again left fatherless. How she managed to survive for the next forty years is unknown although as we shall see she did have other relatives in the colony.

The final year of her life was spent in the Austin Cottages. These cottages were opened in 1887 "for the benefit of the poor of Geelong" through the generosity of Mrs Elizabeth Austin widow of Thomas Austin the prominent squatter of 'Barwon Park' at Winchelsea. A few years earlier Mrs Austin had donated the sum of 7000 pounds towards the establishment of a hospital in Melbourne (the present Austin Hospital at Heidelberg) and she now paid 2400 pounds for the building of twelve cottages "for aged persons of the labouring classes" and a further four cottages for "persons in reduced circumstances belonging to the more educated classes". Mrs Austin handed responsibility for the administration of the cottages to the Ladies' Benevolent Association along with a further substantial donation for the ongoing maintenance of the cottages. The Association then selected inmates from the "deserving poor of Geelong and Winchelsea". Ann enjoyed her new residence only briefly as she died at her residence No.4 Austin's Cottages in Mundy St, Sth Geelong on April 26th 1888. She was buried in the Highton cemetery on the following day. 8

Now for the traditions. In speaking with members of different families claiming descent from John Berry and Jessie Cameron, a similar story was told. The Camerons were from a distinguished family with a castle, Lochnell Castle, in Scotland. A connection was also claimed with the famous clan chieftain Cameron of Lochiel, a supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the rebellion of 1745. This despite the fact that James and Ann arrived as assisted immigrants which hardly suggested that they were wealthy or well-connected.

Some research has established that the castle of Lochnell was a preserve of the Campbells, with the title Laird of Lochnell commencing with John "Gorm" Campbell in 1536 and being passed down to the present day. Lochnell House (probably this was the "castle" referred to) was built by Sir Duncan Campbell (7th of Lochnell, d March 20th 1765) and is located about 6 miles north of Oban, on the north side of Ardmucknish Bay. It was named after the family's older residence on an island in Loch Nell which is about 3 miles south-east of Oban.It was no longer owned by the Campbells at the time of my visit in 1996, and although still a private residence it is also available now as a wedding venue.

Since Ann Cameron's mother was a Campbell it suggested the possibility that the family tradition may have some basis in fact. 9

Lochnell House

Recent research by Kaye McFarlane confirmed the connection with the Campbells of Lochnell when she was able to establish that Ann Cameron's mother Jessie Campbell (or Janet as she is sometimes known) 10 was a grand-daughter of John Campbell of Lerags and his wife Florence McCallum. This link, once established, opened up access to a vast range of Scots ancestors. as John and Florence are documented in the Scots peerage which records details of significant individuals and families from Scottish history dating back more than 900 years. Before returning to mention some of these ancestors, I will recount the evidence linking Jessie Campbell with John Campbell of Lerags.

An entry in the "Gentleman's Magazine" of 1798 under the heading "Marriages of remarkable persons" reads "At Gorteneorn, in Argyleshire, Alex. Cameron esq. captain in the Argyle volunteers to Miss Jessy Campbell, dau. of Archibald C. esq of Lerags." 11 Further research noted that Jessie's youngest sister, Jane (Jean) Campbell married John McColl of Mingary and her two daughters, Margaret and Catherine both came to Victoria. Margaret married her first cousin, Allan Cameron, Jessie's son and a brother of Ann, at the Barrabool Hills in 1849, and as noted in Ch 2, Catherine McColl married Thomas McKellar, at Geelong in 1850.

An entry for Thomas McKellar in Burke's "A genealogical and heraldic history of the colonial gentry, 1891" states that McKellar's wife Catherine McColl was a direct descendant of Campbell of Lochnell and Colin, third Earl of Argyll, and his wife Lady Jane Gordon, daughter of the third Earl of Huntley. 12 His obituary also records that he was a regular visitor to Scotland where he lived on the Lerags estate that he had purchased from his wife's cousin. A similar article relating to Thomas McKellar published in 'The Celtic Monthly' magazine of Jan 1899 also makes reference to the purchase of the Lerags estate and notes the connection to the Campbells of Lochnell "....Some years ago he purchased the estate of Lerags in Argyllshire from his wife's cousin, Mr. John Beverley Campbell, Mrs. M'Kellar being a grand-daughter of the late Archibald Campbell of Lerags and his wife Margaret, daughter of Captain John Campbell of Ardslignish, and sister of Archibald Campbell, 9th of Lochnell....", (although I believe Margaret was actually a niece of Archibald Campbell the 9th of Lochnell rather than a sister). Given the above, I believe we can with some confidence set out the ancestry of Ann Cameron 13

Ancestry of Ann Cameron

Archibald Campbell died on the 28th January, 1809 in Glasgow and is buried in Ramshorn Churchyard. He and his wife Margaret had eleven children. In addition to Janet/Jessie and Jane already mentioned, at least four of his sons, Dr Alexander, Donald, Dugal and Archibald spent time in Jamaica, with both Donald (d 1812) and Dugald (d 1816) dying there.

The Rev Archibald McCallum, 4th of Poltaloch (1605-1685) an ancestor of Florence McCallum also has an interesting claim to fame, having translated the "Shorter Cathechism" and in 1659, 60 parts of the Bible into Gaelic.

Once having identified a "distinguished" Scots ancestor, subsequent research online leads to a range of fascinating characters who are also part of one's ancestry - kings, saints, clan chiefs, soldiers, government officials, murderers - and there is no shortage of such examples in the ancestry of John Campbell of Lerags, Florence McCallum and John Campbell of Ardslignish. It should be noted that whilst there is agreement among historians about names, dates, and events associated with many of these historical figures, the further back one goes the greater the uncertainty that exists, in part due to the absence of records, but also due to the confusion created by the repetition of names from one generation to the next, and the extensive intermarriage between prominent families.

Nevertheless from the Scots peerage and similar sources it seems clear that Ann Cameron for example (and anyone related to me on the Bond side of my family) is descended from King Robert the Bruce (1274 -1329) through three of his daughters, Marjorie (1297-1316) (whose story is a rather tragic one); Matilda (d 1353) and Margaret, (all by different women) and through ten of the estimated twenty-two children of Marjorie's son, Robert Stewart (King Robert II, 1316-1390)! These ancestors by his first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan (d1355) are :- Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany (1340-1420); Robert III King of Scotland, (1337-1406); Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan (c1343-1394); Margaret Stewart (b c1349); Elizabeth Stewart; Jean Stewart and Marjorie Stewart, with the last-named three all born between 1349 and 1355; and by his second wife, Eupheme de Ross, there were Elizabeth Stewart; Egidia Stewart and David Stewart 1st Earl of Caithness, all born between 1356 and 1372.

A striking feature of the stories of many of these ancestors is the number (all males) who died violently. A list, by no means complete, can be found in an appendix to this website. A record that says something about the patriarchal nature of Scots society, but also is a reminder that despite the violence and challenges that still exist in the world today, some significant progress has been made in the quest for world peace. Women are largely absent from ancestral records and one wonders about their reaction to the violence that so often claimed the lives of their husbands, fathers and sons. Probably they had no little or no say in any of it and just went along with decisions of their husbands as the following description suggests, "Early modern Scotland was a patriarchal society, in which men had total authority over women. From the 1560s the post-Reformation marriage service underlined this by stating that a wife "is in subjection and under governance of her husband, so long as they both continue alive. As was common in Western Europe, Scottish society stressed a daughter's duties to her father, a wife's duties to her husband and the virtues of chastity and obedience." 14 It would seem that the same standards did not apply to males to judge from the number of illegitimate children many of them fathered!

Some violent ancestors include Sir Thomas Boyd, 5th of Kilmarnoch, who killed another ancestor, Alan Stewart of Darnley, in a feud in 1439. He was later himself killed in revenge by Alexander Stewart, younger brother of Alan, and Robert the Bruce who stabbed to death another ancestor John "the Red" Comyn before the altar at the church of the Greyfriars at Dumfries in 1305.

In contrast another ancestor, Margaret, Queen of Scotland (1045-1093) the wife of King Malcolm III was canonised as a saint in 1250. She is recognised as a strong, pure, noble character, who had very great influence over her husband, and through him over Scottish history. She was considered an exemplar of the "just ruler", and greatly influenced her husband and children, especially her youngest son, the future King David I of Scotland (another ancestor), to be just and holy rulers. (St Margaret's, the author's first primary school in East Geelong was named in her honour)

Other ancestors who are historical figures of interest include Olav II Haraldsson, King of Norway (995-1030) also canonised as a saint, but modern historians generally agree that Olaf was inclined to violence and brutality, and note that earlier scholars often neglected this side of his character. It seems that, like many Scandinavian kings, Olaf used his Christianity to gain more power for the monarchy and centralise control in Norway. Sir James Douglas, (the "Black Douglas") one of the chief commanders during the Wars of Scottish Independence. He fought at Bannockburn and was killed fighting the Moors in Spain. James Stewart, King James IV of Scotland, (1472-1513) the last monarch from the Isle of Great Britain to be killed in battle and Lady Janet Stewart (1502-1562) onetime mistress of King Henry II of France to name a few.

Other historical figures, who are not ancestors but who are closely related, include John Cameron of Lochiel a prominent Jacobite who served with the Earl of Mar in the rebellion of 1715. Being on the losing side he suffered attainder and forfeiture. He was created Lord Lochiel by the exiled Jacobite King James on Jan 27th 1717 and died in France in 1747 or 1748. He married Isobel Campbell, a daughter of an ancestor Alexander Campbell 6th of Lochnell (1653-1774), the grandfather of both John Campbell of Ardslignish and his wife Janet Campbell. John Cameron of Lochiel was the father of Donald Lochiel (c1695-1748) known as "the gentle Lochiel" the chief of Clan Cameron who supplied crucial support for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the early stages of the 1745 Jacobite rising. The territory associated with Cameron of Lochiel and his clan included the peninsula that stretches along the northern shore of Loch Sunart. Lochiel was present with his clansmen at Glenfinnan (less than 20 miles from Strontian on Loch Sunart) when the Jacobite standard was first raised in August 1745 and many members of the clan lie buried in a mass grave at Culloden where the rebellion came to a bloody conclusion in April 1746.

Another family connection to Culloden is through Lachlan McLachlan son of another ancestor, the 16th chief of Clan McLachlan and brother of Janet McLachlan, who married Archibald McCallum and became the mother of Florence McCallum. Lachlan McLachlan was killed by a cannonball at Culloden while acting as aide-de-camp to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The disaster at Culloden marked the end of the traditional Highland way of life and the clan structure. Over the following century much of the population of the Highlands were forced off the land in the infamous 'clearances' which resulted in the emigration of vast numbers to America and Australia. Possibly it was part of this migration that brought James and Ann Cameron with their family to Australia. 15

A less admirable character is Robert Campbell of Glenlyon (d 1696), not an ancestor, but a son of an ancestor, Archibald Campbell of Glenlyon, who commanded a regiment of foot of the Earl of Argyll responsible for the infamous Massacre of Glencoe in 1692.

Finally another item of interest which does not have a direct connection to any ancestors, relates to the still unsolved murder of the "Red Fox", Colin Campbell of Glenure in 1752. The infamous "Appin murder" that formed a central part in Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel "Kidnapped". An account of Colin Campbell's murder and burial contains the following "On May 26 1752, an impressive funeral procession moved ... westward along the shore of Loch Etive to Ardchattan Priory. The priory, by then in ruinous state .... had been founded in 1230.... Secularised after the sixteenth-century Reformation, the property passed into the hands of local Campbells... And here Glenure was interred, in the burial aisle of the Lochnell Campbells."

Another view of Lochnell House

Some other family stories suggest that a Lord Salisbury married into the family, although who he was or what his claim to fame was supposed to be is not remembered. 16

Most of these traditions were well known by a daughter of Jessie Cameron and John Berry, Mrs Jessie Shaw who is said to have possessed a thorough and reliable knowledge of the family history. Unfortunately what she knew was never written down and what is recorded above has been pieced together from what those who knew her could recall. 17

According to another of those traditions, Jessie at one time owned tracts of land in the Barrabool Hills but it had eventually to be sold due to her husband's heavy drinking! An alternative explanation also remembered suggested that a man named Wilson somehow fleeced Jessie of her money. It would seem that the facts have become garbled here, as we have already noted that Robert Wilson was Jessie's step-father who died at a young age, he could hardly have been as bad as all that since Jessie gave the name Robert Wilson (Berry) to one of her children!

The alcohol related explanation on the other hand seems to be confirmed by a number of newspaper accounts which detail a series of court actions initiated by Jessie against her husband, all involving drunkeness, threats, and on at least one occasion, violence towards herself and her children. To give one example from the Geelong Advertiser of 7th Dec 1871 "ILLTREATING HIS WIFE. John Berry was summoned by his wife for abusing her on the 1st instant. It appeared from the evidence that the defendant had been up the country, and when he came home in a state of intoxication he wished to take his little boy to a public house. This complainant objected to, upon which her husband commenced to beat her with a stick, pulled her by the hair of her head, blacked her eye, and struck her little girl. He was fined 10 pounds or in default, one month's imprisonment, and ordered to find two sureties that he would keep the peace towards his wife for six months." 18

One final interesting recollection concerning the Camerons relates to a Captain Cameron, a cousin of Jessie, who is supposed to have served with the British Army in the Crimean War. A small screw-top container was shown to me by Jim Berry of Birregurra who told me that it was reputedly used by the said officer to transmit messages whilst in the front line. Again there might be some truth in this recollection, although the story may have become distorted over the years. As mentioned above Jessie's grandfather was referred to as Captain Cameron at the time of his daughter's marriage in 1829. As he was dead by the time of her marriage, he obviously could not have served in the Crimean War (1853-1856) which in turn would cast some doubt on the nature of the family heirloom. In the museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment at Stirling Castle there is a reference that may relate to some of these traditions. In 1794 Col Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, a nephew of Janet Campbell the wife of John Campbell of Ardslingnish, was given the task of raising a Highland Regiment. Originally entitled the 98th Regiment it was renumbered after a few years and known as the 91st Argyllshire Regiment. Over the years it saw service in many parts of the globe and underwent amalgamation with other regiments. One of its most famous actions was at Balaklava in the Crimea where its performance gave rise to the term 'the thin red line'- perhaps it was an action in which another Cameron or Campbell relative saw service?

John and Jessie Berry had ten children:- Sarah, James, Margaret (Sloss), John, Jessie (Shaw), Robert, Alexander, James, Alfred and Annie. 19 The family appears to have lived in the Gnarwarre - Barrabool Hills area for most of this time. According to records of the Parish of Gnarwarre (Book 6) held at the Geelong Historical Records Centre, John owned a section of land on the western side of the present Monahan's Rd about a kilometre south of Barrabool Rd and a similar distance north east of Mt Moriac. N S McAdam writing in a booklet entitled "Gnarwarre History" held at the GHRC wrote "In the late 1860's the government sold (in 25 acre blocks mostly) sections 4 & 7. The idea was that working men could run a few cows, poultry, pigs etc to supplement their income. When hard times came a decade or so later most of these holdings were abandoned and were bought by the larger landholders notably the Monahan's. Some of the names of these small landholderrs were .. .. Gurrie, Griffin... Berry...". In the meantime John Berry Jr seems to have moved to Birregurra as a youth, as according to the account in the local paper on the occasion of his death in 1925 he had lived in Birregurra district for over sixty years.

Possibly John Jr's parents returned to live in Geelong late in their lives as Jessie died in Geelong hospital on Nov 29th 1908 and was buried the following day in the cemetery at Highton. Her husband, John Berry, outlived her by almost four years until his death at the age of 87, in the Geelong hospital on Aug 14th 1912, after an illness of several months. He too was buried in the Highton cemetery. 20

John and Honorah Berry appear to have lived at Curlewis for some years after their marriage as several of their children were born there. But from 1883 onwards the family seems to have settled permanently at Birregurra. Whatever the religious affiliation of John (he possibly did adopt the Catholic Faith of his wife) his children were brought up as Catholics. John worked at a variety of occupations including many of the early projects in the district. It is worth quoting part of his obituary which appeared in the local newspaper at the time of his death:-

"In his young days, in fact almost all of his life Mr Berry was a noted horseman and for a long time before any road was made he carried the mails to Apollo Bay, having many interesting and exciting experiences whilst traversing the virgin forests which then existed."

He was employed on the building of the Lorne pier and the construction of the railway line from Birregurra to Deans Marsh and Forrest (now disused) work for which commenced in 1889 with the line being opened on June 5th 1891. He also carried sheet lead by pack horse to Cape Otway for the building of the lighthouse and worked on the construction of the telegraph line between Lorne and Apollo Bay. While working at Lorne it is said that he would commence walking from Birregurra to Lorne on Sunday afternoon in order to start work on Monday, then make the return trek to Birregurra the following Saturday to rejoin his family and pick up supplies for the following week - a distance of 26 miles through rugged bush country each way! 21

Later John joined Jack Carney to work for Mr Pat Cahill who held a contract for mail delivery. The mail was carried by packhorse. Later still 4 acres of land in the name of Honorah were purchased in Bowden St. The land was cleared and a house built after which John purchased a bullock team. He travelled to Forrest where he cut firewood to supply Birregurra and district which he sold at 5 shillings per ton. (The wood was cut to 2' lengths with 50' per ton.) The team was used for many other cartage jobs in the district as well as for shifting a house which was brought across the river over a bridge near "Deep Dene" property. All this took place some time around the year 1900. The team was eventually sold to a Mr Smith of Deans Marsh after which the Berry's either rented or bought land from the original Broomfield estate, behind Rail St to Darcys Lane. This was held for many years and to this day is often referred to as Berry's paddock. Some farm machinery was then purchased which included a steam engine, thrasher and chaff cutter. The machinery was used in many places throughout the district and several photographs of it are in existence, one of which shows the fifteen men who were required to operate it. 22

John and Honorah raised a family of fifteen children. Their names, dates of birth and for some, dates of death, are recorded in the Berry family Bible. All were educated at the local state school in Birregurra, four sons served in World War I and all survived. Three of the children settled at Birregurra and one at nearby Beeac, but the rest moved away to other districts. 23  

John Berry died of pneumonia in Colac on Feb 17th 1925 after several weeks illness, and was buried in the Warncoort cemetery near Birregurra the next day. He was 70 years of age. His wife Honorah then went to live with her daughter Jessie and son-in-law Jack Barry in Melbourne. Her death occurred on May 25th 1933, at their residence at 13 Hobbs St Seddon after an illness of several weeks. Honorah was buried with her husband at Warncoort on the following day. 24