Allan McLean and Janet McFarlane

Allan McLean was born in 1782 on the Isle of Coll, located in the Inner Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland. He grew up in a larger community than what the island has today, with his father, John McLean, being a boat-builder and carpenter, while his mother, Isabella McDougall, likely worked at home.

Eventually, Allan followed in his father’s footsteps and became a carpenter himself. It was during this time that he met Janet McFarlane, who worked as a waitress in Scarinish, the main village on the nearby Isle of Tiree. The couple exchanged vows on May 23, 1816, in Scarinish.

According to the Old Parish Registers, Janet resided in Scarinish at the time of her marriage, while Allan lived and worked on Coll. Shipping Records reveal that Janet was born in 1790 in the County of Argyll, Parish of Kilmore, District of Lorne, with her father, John McFarlane, working as a “Coast Waiter” overseeing customs service. Her mother’s name was Ann Sinclair.

Allan and Janet had a large family, which included two daughters named Isabella and Ann, who were “in service” at the time of their departure for Australia in 1838. Janet, who spoke some English, was living with her parents at the time of departure, according to the shipping records. Although some members of the family could read and write English, they primarily spoke Scottish Gaelic.

Scottish Clearances

Economic conditions in Scotland during the early 19th century were challenging for many families, particularly those in the rural and remote areas. Traditional industries, such as agriculture and fishing, were struggling, and the population was growing faster than the economy could support. As a result, many Scots were forced to look elsewhere for work and opportunities.

Australia, with its vast land and resource-rich environment, offered a potential solution to the economic challenges facing many Scottish families. The Australian government actively promoted immigration from the British Isles, and many Scots were drawn to the promise of a better life in the new colony. In addition, the Australian government provided financial incentives to encourage migration, such as free or subsidized passage for some categories of immigrants.

For families like the McLeans, emigrating to Australia would have been a significant undertaking, involving leaving behind their home, family, and friends, and embarking on a perilous journey across the ocean to an unfamiliar land. However, the promise of greater economic opportunities and a better life for themselves and their children may have been a powerful motivation for taking the risk and making the journey.

A number of newspaper articles documented the struggles faced by people in both the Highlands and the Islands of Scotland, including a lengthy article published in the “Bristol Mercury” on Saturday, April 15, 1837. The article highlighted the dire economic situation in the Western Highlands and Islands, noting that the local people were facing significant challenges due to the loss of traditional industries and the lack of employment opportunities.

The Right Worshipful the Mayor presided at a meeting held on Thursday last, for the purpose of raising a fund in aid of the suffering population of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, when the resolutions which appear in another part of our paper were agreed to. The severe and urgent distress, which so strongly claims the benevolent and active sympathy of the British public, extends over districts containing a scattered population of 167,000, of whom it is computed, that not less than 86,00 are in absolute want of food, clothing, and fuel. These accumulated evils have not been occasioned by the imprudence or misconduct of the sufferers. The greater part of the population on the western coasts of Scotland ewere formerly employed in the manufacture of kelp, some in the herring fishery, and others in agriculture. The kelp manufacture has necessarily been abandoned as no longer profitable, and for several years the herring fishery has been very unproductive, and the harvest has nearly failed. The people being thus deprived by unforeseen and inevitable causes of every resource, and reduced to the last extremity of want, have been compelled to sustain life by consuming the corn and potatoes they had reserved as seed for the next year’s crops, and even by gathering shell fish from the shore. A defective supply of unwholesome food has produced disease among them in various forms ; and their present misery is aggravated by their hopeless prospects for the future. Still, they patiently endure their dreadful privations. So peaceable are they, and obedient to the laws, that there is neither a constabulary, nor a military force throughout all the districts visited by this great and extensive calamity. Nor can we forget that they contributed to form those Highland regiments, which were so eminently distinguished during the late war for their discipline and bravery, and who bore so conspicuous and important a part in its dangers and its victories.

The following extracts are selected from a great number of letters from the Scottish clergy, and other gentlemen of local influence and respectability, and they unhappily leave no room to doubt, that the atmost amount of public and private liberality that can be anticipated will afford onry a partial and temporary relief to the distress in which upwards of 80,000 persons are involved, many of whom it is believed must eventually be forced to quit their native country as emigrants:-

“Last harvest the grain crops in the Lewis did not ripen at all, owing to the lateness of the spring, and the cold ungenial summer. The potatoe crop, the people’s chief support, was a general failure. To add to their misfortunes, there has been no herring fishery on the coast for several years vast. Two-thirds of the whole population of 15,000 souls may be said to be in the condition here imperfectly described -a condition which promises nothing but starvation to thousands, unless the calamity is averted through public or private charity. To my certain knowledge there are hundreds families, many of them in the town and neighbourhood of Stornoway, who are at this moment without one particle of food being entirely dependent for support on the benevolence of the few who are able to help them. “-Lewis Mac Ieer, of Grace.

“In Tobermory the population is 1520, of whom 200 are in necessitous circumstances at present, about the end of spring it is expected the number will be increased to 500; and before harvest, to 700. I know well that several families in this place had not a single morsel offood in their houses some months ago, neither had they money wherewith to purchase any; and besides, potatoes are so very scarce here that the little that can be got are sold at 4s. the barrel, which is double the price they bring in ordinary times at this season.-One poor man, who lately died of influenza, was obliged to keep on his day-clothes on his death-bed, as there was only a single blanket in the house.”-Finlay McPherson Minister.

“‘Thepopulation of Snizort in 1831 was 8487. The wants of the inhabitants of this parish were never known to be so early l pressing. About one-third of the whole population are in im-mediate want.”-Donald M’Donald Esq., Berriedale.

“The population of Duirinish is between 4000 and 5000. 1 consider that at least four-fifths of the population a-lb in needy ; circumstances.”-Edward Gibbons, Factor to McLeod of McLeod. , The parish of Sleat embraces a population of 3000 souls, of whom 250 are presently destitute, and upwards of 1500 will be- i come so beforeharvest. The population ” have no resources from I either fishing, manufacture, or day labour, by which immediate I relief can be afforded ;” while families to the number of 242 will t require to be furnished with seed for next crop-none of whom I have wherewithal to purchase it. Mr. McIver, the minister of Sleat, concludes the above statement thus-” To add to the distress so prevalent, disease to an unprecedented degree prevails in the parish. Within the last fortnight, twenty-two deaths have t taken place from influenza and small-pox,-an extent of mortality not within the recollection of the oldest inhabitant, and fears are apprehended that typhus may ensue from the unhealthy nature of C the food on which the sick subsist.”

The parish of Ullapool is represented by Mr. Alexander Ross, as consisting of 2500 individuals-600 of whom are destitute of food and fuel, and from 1OO to 200 comparatively destitute of clothing. By harvest time about 2100 will be similarly situated as respects food, and no portion of the above have any resources of their own on which to rely for procuring the means to purchase s food or clothing..

The Rev. Thomas Ross, of Lochbroom, Dingwall, states the a population of his parish at 5400 souls-1000 of these, though not destitute, are yet “in great-distress, and the whole will he in a similar situation by next harvest. They have no resources (by employment or otherwise) of their own,” by which immediate relief can I be afforded, and about 1060 families will require assistance in the shape of seed corn for next harvest.

“The population of Barvas is 1840, of whom one-fourth will be in want of the necessaries of life by the end of March one-half by the end of May, and the whole by the end of June. A few families are now almost in a state of absolute destitution. Without foreign aid, more than the half of thepopuadtion must inevitably perish of absolute starvation.”

Assisted Passage to Australia

During the mid-19th century, Scotland experienced a movement to “clear” the Scottish Highlands, which resulted in the forced eviction of tenants from their lands. This was brought about by a combination of economic and political changes, as well as the wealthy landowners’ desire to use their land for more profitable purposes such as sheep farming. It is possible that the McLean family, like many others, was affected by these events and viewed emigration to Australia as a way to escape difficult conditions.

Around the same time, the Australian government introduced the “Bounty” assisted passage immigration scheme to encourage people to migrate to the country. The program offered financial assistance to migrants, including payment of their passage to Australia, in exchange for a commitment to work in the country for a certain period. It is plausible that the McLean family took advantage of this scheme to make their journey to Australia.

Between 1837 and 1846 assisted emigrants, largely working-class people, greatly outnumbered the unassisted emigrants. The Scottish emigration for the ten years numbered about 12,000 persons, of whom about 10,000 were brought out under either the government or colonial bounty systems, so that the proportion of Scots among the incomers rose to about a sixth, as against a tenth in the six years before 1838. For the first time, there was a considerable influx of working-class Scots.

1837 : Travel on “The Brilliant”

Allan, Janet and their children left from nearby Tobermory on September 27, 1837 travelling on the “Brilliant”. According to the Keith Dash website about Coll Genealogy

The Brilliant, a copper-sheathed wooden-hulled ship of 428 tons, was built in Montreal, Canada, in 1834. It made at least two voyages to Australia, the first as a Bounty Scheme ship under the command of Captain Gilkison departing from Tobermory, Isle of Mull, on 27 September 1837 and arriving in Sydney on 20 January 1838. In a letter to Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of the Colony of New South Wales, Lord Glenelg explained that the original intention had been to send the Brilliant to Van Dieman’s Land (i.e. Tasmania), but because of reports of poor prospects for immigrants there the ship had been sent to Sydney instead. The departure of the Brilliant from Tobermory was reported in some detail in an article in the Inverness Courier, and after its arrival in Sydney a committee of passengers wrote a letter of thanks to Captain Gilkison.

According to the Inverness Courier Index 1837, p212

A large body of emigrants sailed from Tobermory on the 27th of September for New South Wales. The vessel was the Brilliant, and its size and splendid fittings were greatly admired. “the people to be conveyed by this vessel are decidedly the most valuable that have ever left the shores of Great Britain; they are all of excellent moral character, and from their knowledge of agriculture, and management of sheep and cattle, must prove a most valuable acquisition to a colony like New South Wales.” The Rev. Mr Macpherson, of Tobermory, preached a farewell sermon before the party sailed. The total number of emigrants was 322, made up as follows:—From Ardnamurchan and Strontian, 105; Coll and Tiree, 104; Mull and lona, 56; Morven, 25; Dunoon, 28; teachers, 2; surgeons, 2. A visitor from New South Wales presented as many of the party as he met with letters of introduction, and expressed himself highly gratified with the prospect of having so valuable an addition to the colony. A Government agent superintended the embarkation.

The “Caledonian Mercury” of Saturday 14 Oct 1837 reported the event in these terms…

Caledonian Mercury - Saturday 14 October 1837
Caledonian Mercury – Saturday 14 October 1837
The arrival of the ship Brilliant at Tobermory, for the conveyance of emigrants to New South Wales, took place on the 16th September. The size and splendid fittings of this vessel created a sensation in Mull never before eqnualled; the Highlanders having only been accustomed to see small vessels fitted for American emigration, and when the time of embarcation arrived many families came from a distance prepared to embark, if those engaged should chanae their resolution, as every thing appeared so comfortable and requisite for such an undertaking. The state of the weather on Monday the 25th enabled the embarkation to be completed with the utmost regularity; and on Tuesday afternoon a farewell sermon was preached in Gaelic by the Rev. F. McPherson of Tobermory to 320 souls about to leave their native land. The people to be conveyed by this vessel are decidedly the most valuable that have ever left Great Britain ; they are all of excellent moral character, and from their knowledge of agriculture, the management of sheep and cattle, must prove a most valuable acquisition to a colony like New South Wales. The greatest credit is due to the clergymen, the proprietors and their agents, for the kind interest and attention to the poor people’s wants, as there is not one family but are amply provided with everything necessary for the voyage. Among the many visitors that came to see the Brilliant was a gentleman, a native of the country of their ddoption, Mr James McArthur. The interest created by this gentleman’s visit was truly astonishing, and Mr McArthur thus expressed himself highly gratified with the.prospect of having so valuable an addition to the colony, and presented all he met with letters of introduction which were joyfully received as passports to sure and profitable employment. The ship was towed out of Tobermory by a steamer on Wednesday at day-light, with a fine light breeze, and sincere and true were the kind wishes of all that beheld her departure. The embarkation was superintended by Dr Boyter, R.N., the Government Agent, to whom most grateful acknowledgments were made for his kind attentions to all interested. The following is a list of the districts from which the emigrants were taken, and the number from each:- Arduamurchanand Strontian , 105 CoDl and Tiree . . s 104 Mull and Iona . . , 56 Morren . . . . 23 Dunoon . , 28 316 Teachers . . 2 Srsrgeooe . . 2 Total 322

In his book, “The Long Farewell: the Perilous Voyages of Settlers Under Sail in the Great Migrations to Australia” Don Charlwood notes conditions on board the vessell would probably have been reasonably cramped. In her diary, Jessie Campbell, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1840 wrote…

Captain Grey and the doctor complaining woefully about the filth of Highland emigrants, they say they could not have believed it was possible for human beings to be so dirty in their habits, only fancing using their dishes they have for their food for certain other purposes at night poor as I am no considerations on earth would tempt me to trust my little family in a ship with Highland emigrants if I still had the voyage before me.

The ship arrived in Sydney on January 20, 1838. Interestingly, this was the same vessell that transported the father of Mary McKillop. The Sydney Herald of Monday 22 January 1838 reported the arrival of The Brilliant in these terms…

The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831-1842), Monday 22 January 1838, page 2
The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831-1842), Monday 22 January 1838, page 2 The Brilliant from Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, arrived on Saturday with three hundred distressed highlanders. The Minerva, with emigrants selected by Dr Lang, previous to his diepartures from Sctoland, …. from Greenock a weeek before the Brilliant; she may therefore be daily expected. The Royal Admiral was spoken by the Brilliant near the Cape; she was bound to New Hoilland, but we could not assertain what part. There were ten deaths on board the Brilliant, all of them children under two years of age.

Shipping Records

1830s-1840s Conditions in Australia

A few days later, a letter appeared in The Sydney Herald Monday 29 January 1838, page 3 which responded to then idea the immigrants were “distressed”…

The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831-1842), Monday 29 January 1838, page 3
The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831-1842), Monday 29 January 1838, page 3 That they were really distressed that emigrated, or that were permitted to emigrate (particularly by the ship Brilliant) is beyond doubt an incorrect statement. None were received the agent but approved shepherds, industrious tradesmen, good field laborers, dairy mades, chamber-maids are all under thirty five years of age. Those who did not come within this rule were obliged to pay their rations, and there were no exceptions but where age was concerned…”

In February 1938, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Thursday 1 February 1838, page 2 reported further about the conditions of highland immigrants. The article indicates there was probably a significant debate going on about whether or not this type of immigration was a good thing…

The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831-1842), Thursday 1 February 1838, page 2
The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831-1842), Thursday 1 February 1838, page 2 The early age at which the Highlanders of Scotland enter the married life renders the importation of Immigrants from that quarter, without families, altogether impracticable; while the extent of their families on there arrival here forms not only a serious drawback on the Immigrants themselves, but also a heavy obstacle in the way of obtaining employment. The inflated notions with which they arrive, from whatever they source they have originated, form a cause of very general complaint. We heard, but yesterday, of an Immigrant by the Brilliant, refusing twenty-five pounds per annum and rations, for his son, a boy who had never been at service in his life, and who could not, at the present moment in Scotland, obtain more than from three to four pounds yearly for his service; the parents themselves are also by no means backward in asking exhorbitant sums by way of remuneration for their services. This, however, is an evil which will speedily work its own cure. The immense advantage which must necessarily accrue to the Colony from the infusion among us of large importations of virtuous and industrious Immigrants from the Highlands of Scotland, immeasurably counterbalances all the evils that can be arrayed against its continuance
The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835-1840), Wednesday 21 February 1838, page 2
The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835-1840), Wednesday 21 February 1838, page 2
The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835-1840), Saturday 17 March 1838, page 2
The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835-1840), Saturday 17 March 1838, page 2

NSW South Coast

The McLean family settled in Broulee, a town located near Moruya on the NSW South Coast, which already had a sizable Scottish community. Their daughter, Isabella, secured a job and lived for some time on “Glenduart,” the third-largest estate on the Moruya River, which was owned by retired Scots infantry captain John Leyburn Maclean.

In the 1850s, the McLean sons, including Donald, ventured to the Californian Gold Diggings. In 1854, they, along with their brothers Alexander, Hector, John, and Archibald, moved to the Shoalhaven to build ships and farm.

Allan McLean passed away on December 20, 1858 (3097/1858) at Moruya Heads and was interred in the Presbyterian Section of the Moruya Cemetery. Following her husband’s death, Janet moved to live with her son Donald in Crookhaven, near Nowra, as mentioned in F.W. Caffery’s “The Crookhaven.”

The McLean brothers punted farm produce down the Crookhaven Creek to Greenwell Point from as far as the junction of Eelwine Creek, near the Graham Family graves. With the bridging of this creek the distance was shortened for residents south of Crookhaven creek who needed to travel to Pyree school or Greenwell Point. It was below the Crookhaven bridge on Pyree Lane that the McLean brothers built the Janet McFarlane; a sailing boat that was noted for her speed. She was later lost at sea in a gale off Newcastle.

NZ-based descendant, Alec McLean notes…

The brothers Donald and Alexander McLean settled at Shoalhaven/Crookhaven NSW where they built and operated boats running freight up and down the river. They had neighbouring farms in the area, at Pyree, “The Orange Grove” (Donald) and “Violet Bank” (Alexander). Violet Bank was incorporated in 1951 I understand into the Orange Grove property. The homestead at the Orange Grove was (as at 15 or so years ago – I have no up to date information on this) still in the hands of Donald’s descendant Gordon McLean who never married. Donald’s wife was Catherine Finlayson, Alexander’s Annie Robertson. Donald and Catherine had four daughters and two sons, and I have details of their descendents. Alexander and Annie had four boys and four girls.

Sudden Death of Mrs McLean

Twenty years later, Janet McFarlane died, aged 78, on December 5, 1868 (6557/1868) at Crookhaven. Given the sudden nature of her death, a coronial inquiry before a jury was held on Monday, December 7. Once completed, she was buried on Monday evening.

Sudden Death of Mrs McLean Sudden Death of Mrs McLean. McLean, Janet. We have this week to record another death in our midst, of a somewhat sudden character, notwithstanding that the deceased had greatly exceeded the allotted time laid down for human existence. The following facts were elicited at the enquiry held by Mr Richards, coroner and a jury of six, on Monday, last.
McLean Alexander being duly sworn, states “I am a farmer and reside at Crookhaven, in the district of Shoalhaven, in the Colony of New South Wales; the body reviewed by the Coroner and jury, is that of my mother, Janet McLean, aged seventy eight years; she resided with my brother McLean, Donald whose house is about ten yards from mine; on Saturday last my mother was quite well; my brother McLean Archibald came to Crookhaven between eight and nine o’clock on Saturday evening, after an absence from his mother of between three and four years; Archibald came to my house a little before nine, and shortly afterwards my mother followed him; my mother sat upon the sofa, and appeared quite well; she appeared highly pleased to see my brother after so long an absence; about nine o’clock, the deceased said to my wife. “Dear me Ann, I don’t know what is come over me, give me a mouthful of water”. My wife went for water; my mother appeared to faint; I went to her and laid her upon the sofa;she never spoke, but died instantaneously. Before the deceased called for the water, she requested that her walking stick be handed to her her, as if she wished to go out. Archibald my brother, went and called our brother Donald; he came immediately, but the deceased died, before any assistance could be procured; the deceased died on Saturday, the 5th December at my residence at Crookhaven.
Donald McLean of Crookhaven, being sworn states; I am a farmer; the body viewed by my jury is that of my mother, Janet McLean, aged 78 years; she resided with me; on Saturday last, the 5th instant, she was quite well; my brother Archibald was the deceased’s eldest son; and on Saturday he came to our house after an absence of between three and four years, about half past eight on Saturday evening my mother with the rest of the family had retired to bed; I sat up reading; my brother Archibald came to the house at about half past eight; my mother got up and spoke to my brother, and in reply to Archibald who said, “You look as well as when I saw you last said, “She was very well, thank God”. Archibald had tea. In about a quarter of an hour, my brother Archibald went with me to my brother Alexander’s house; the deceased followed her son Archibald to Alexander’s house; she was away from the house about a quarter of an hour when I was called by Archibald who told me that “mother was in a fit”. I went over immediately and found my brother and his wife putting my mother upon the sofa, we applied some water to her face, and I went for Mrs Aberdeen, who came with her husband, but before we reached the house, the deceased was dead.
Reid, James Stepen being duly sworn deposed; I am a legally qualified medical practitioner, residing at Shoalhaven, I am of opinion formed from the evidence, that the deceased died from disease of the heart; the excitement caused by the arrival of her eldest son, after so long an absence, would be likely to cause a rupture of the heart, of some of the vessels; if they were prediposed by disease.The jury after some consideration returned the following verdict: “That the deceased Janet McLean, died at the residence of Alexander McLean, at Crookhaven, Shoalhvaen, on Saturday the fifth day of December, instant, and that the death of the deceased was the result of natural causes.”The funeral of the deceased lady took place on Monday evening, and her mortal remains were followed to the grave in the Presbyterian Cemetery, by a verty large number of relatives and friends.

I have obtained another obituary, although I am unaware of the source for the following quote.

On Saturday evening, after an absence of between three and four years, Archibald paid her a visit, arriving at about 8.30pm. He said “You look as well as when I saw you last”, to which she replied that she was very well, thank God. They had tea. At nine o’clock, however, she is reported to have said to her daughter-in-law, “Dear me Ann, I don’t what is come over me, give me a mouthful of water.”. Janet asked for her walking stick and then appeared to faint. She was placed on the sofa, some water was applied to her face, but she died instantaneously. There was an inquiry into her sudden death. The jury after some consideration returned the following verdict: “That the deceased Janet McLean, died at the residence of Alexander McLean, at Crookhaven, Shoalhaven, on Saturday the fifth day of December, instant, and that the death of the deceased was the result of natural causes. The Minister for the funeral was William Grant and undertaker was John Mason.


Isabella McLean

* Isabella McLean was born August 9, 1818 on the Isle of Coll, SCOTLAND. She married James Laing on October 16, 1841 at Glenduart, MORUYA, NSW (V18411211 76/1841). She died July 29, 1890 (5798/1891) at Towamba, near EDEN, NSW. You can read more about her here.

Ann McLean

* Ann McLean was born 1820 on the Isle of Coll, SCOTLAND.

Archibald McLean

* Archibald McLean was born May 31 1821 on the Isle of Coll, SCOTLAND. He married Euphemia McIntosh on October 13, 1854 at Scots Church, Sydney (V18541486 73B/1854). He died July 31, 1877 at Moruya (death not registered in NSW).

Archibald McLean

Donald McLean

* Donald McLean was born 1823 on the Isle of Coll, SCOTLAND. He married Catherine Finlayson in 1864 at Shoalhaven (3109/1864). He died on December 19, 1899 (2755/1900) at Crookhaven. He is buried in the Presbyterian Portion ROW/SECTION 02B of the Nowra Cemetery. Allocation 8. According to researcher, Norma Ward, Donald was born on April 15, 1823, though she does not have the source for that information.

I have received the following information from NZ-based descendant, Alec McLean who writes…

The brothers Donald and Alexander McLean settled at Shoalhaven/Crookhaven NSW where they built and operated boats running freight up and down the river. They had neighbouring farms in the area, at Pyree, “The Orange Grove” (Donald) and “Violet Bank” (Alexander). Violet Bank was incorporated in 1951 I understand into the Orange Grove property. The homestead at the Orange Grove was (as at 15 or so years ago – I have no up to date information on this) still in the hands of Donald’s descendant Gordon McLean who never married. Donald’s wife was Catherine Finlayson, Alexander’s Annie Robertson. Donald and Catherine had four daughters and two sons, and I have details of their descendents. Alexander and Annie had four boys and four girls, and I have some details of their descendents. If anyone wants further information from this side of the Tasman, happy for you to pass on my email address.

I have also received the following information from descendant, Catherine Ring who writes…

My name is Catherine Ring, nee McLean, and I have been reading your article on Allan and Janet McLean.
Allan and Janet were my great great grandparents.
My great grandparents were Donald and Catherine McLean of Crookhaven and my grandparents were Allan and Muriel McLean.
My parents were Eric and Thelma McLean.
I was raised on the family property at Pyree, on the Crookhaven River which had been in the McLean family since the 1860’s. (Sold in 1998).
My sister Janet Perks, wrote a family history, prior to her death in 2003 and I have been adding bits and pieces since. Only in the last 18 months have I got to know Beryl Longman whose great grandfather was a brother of Donald.
I still keep in touch with Elizabeth McLean, from Forbes. Her father was Dr. Ivan McLean. His father actually owned part of the McLean farm at Pyree on the Crookhaven river.
Donald McLean’s son, Duncan, and daughter, Janet, stayed on the farm. However, as Duncan did not marry, upon his death, my father, Eric came to run the dairy farm at Crookhaven. Eric’s father, Allan, had left the area and moved to Bellingen, then to Tamworth and then Scone. However, when Duncan died my father came to Crookhaven to run the McLean dairy farm. Auntie Janet lived with us for many years and was a great one for our Scottish history!!!
Donald McLean’s other children were Isabella, Ann and Margaret and Catherine and Mary (known as May). I remember Aunty May very well. Catherine married Robert Aberdeen and I have contact with his granddaughter and I also have recently meet some other Aberdeen family connections (by unusual circumstances).
My sister Janet Perks, lived in New Zealand after marriage, and she had regular contact with Jean Winter whose father was John McLean and had moved to NZ. Jean’s brother Jock was the father of Alex McLean but since my sister’s passing there has been no contact with Alex.
I live in Nowra so still go past the old family farm from time to time. It is now a working farm with robotic milking machines – a lot different from when my father milked the cows!!
I hope you may find something of interest from the above.
Kind regards, Catherine.

John McLean

John McLean was born on May 30, 1825, on the Isle of Coll in Scotland. According to fellow researcher Beryl Longman, he had a relationship with Bridget Randell (nee Gleeson) and fathered a son named John in 1860, who was Longman’s grandfather. He also had a daughter named Margaret, born in 1862, and there may have been a third child. John passed away on July 31, 1911, in Crookhaven and was buried in the Presbyterian Portion ROW/SECTION 02B of the Nowra Cemetery, although this has not been confirmed.

Mary McLean

Mary McLean was born on August 19, 1830, on the Isle of Coll in Scotland. She married Christopher Brown on November 24, 1846, at Scots Church in Sydney. After their marriage, they settled in the Brogo area of New South Wales, where they had several children. Mary passed away on October 30, 1881, in Brogo, NSW, although her death was not registered in NSW.

Alexander McLean

Alexander McLean was born on November 1, 1832, on the Isle of Coll, Scotland. He married Ann Robertson in 1856 at Numbaa (2625/1857) and they settled in Crookhaven. Alexander passed away on February 6, 1907 (2283/1907) and is buried in the Presbyterian Portion ROW/SECTION 02B of the Nowra Cemetery, Allocation 10.

I have received the following information from NZ-based descendant, Alec McLean who writes…

Alexander and Annie had four boys and four girls, and I have some details of their descendents. One of Alexander and Annie’s sons John (my grandfather) came to New Zealand in late 1890s and settled in Rotorua where he had a farm, and also ran two of the large hotels for a period, until the depression of the 30s hit him hard. He was Mayor of Rotorua and very prominent in introducing poultry industry legislation in New Zealand. John married Sarah McEwen and they had four children. Sarah died after the birth of one of the children and her sister Agnes McEwen moved in to look after the family. John later married Agnes, and they had twins Jack (my father) and Jean, and Donald. I have details for most of John and Sarah/Agnes’ descendents. Would be very interested in any more information re the Australian side of the family. Beryl Longman’s information re her grandfather John was fascinating as John is showing on my family tree as “never married” . Any information re Archibald and Euphemia would be appreciated. I understand they had eight daughters and one son. Their daughter Euphemia married Andra Johansen, and they had Edwin, Alister and Alma. Edwin had a son Jeffery I believe. Hope this is helpful. If anyone wants further information from this side of the Tasman, happy for you to pass on my email address.

Hector McLean

Hector McLean was born on September 13, 1837, on the Isle of Coll, Scotland. While his marriage record is not currently located, he likely married and had children. He passed away in 1924 in Goulburn, New South Wales (3042/1924).

Misc Links

* The confirmation of Alan and Janet’s marriage date comes from Isle of Tiree Genealogy, a tremendous site which has a number of downloadable spreadsheets, including the Old Parish Records of the Church of Scotland.

* Large Scale Emigration to Australia after 1832 from Electric Scotland.

* The reference about The Brilliant from The Inverness Courier comes from Electric Scotland

* There is an account of life on board a later voyage of The Brilliant, including a sketch of the ship itself on The Highland Clearances website.

* Numbaa Cemetery


* Don Watson, “Caledonia Australis: Scottish Highlanders on the Frontier of Australia”. Publisher: Harpercollins (January 1985)ISBN-10: 0002173220ISBN-13: 978-0002173223

* Don Charlwood, “The Long Farewell: the Perilous Voyages of Settlers Under Sail in the Great Migrations to Australia” Ringwood, Vic, 1981

* “Behind Broulee Central South Coast New South Wales”, Eurobodalla Shire. Council, Moruya. Gibbney, H.J. (1980)* F.W. Caffery, “The Crookhaven: An early history of Numba and the surrounding district”, published in 1999 by Effie Caffery, 31 Colyer Avenue, NOWRA, NSW 2541

* Shoalhaven Family History Society Inc, PO Box 591, NOWRA, NSW 2541, “Index To The Birth, Death, Marriage and Obituary Notices from the Shoalhaven Nrews 1867-1873″.

* Drawing of Donald McLean from “Greenwell Point: An Early Shoalhaven Port” compiled by R.J. Walliss for The Greenwell Point Bi-Centenial Sub-Committee

Sharing Around: Please feel free to copy any of the information on this page which may help you in your own research. My feeling is that family research is hard enough, without the need to constantly re-invent the wheel. It would be great, however, if you’d leave a comment below just to say “hi”.

110 Replies to “Allan McLean and Janet McFarlane”

  1. Hi James
    Further to your McLean/Laing site I am also a descendant of Allan and Janet. My G/Grandfather was their son John who was born on 30th.May,1825. He had a relationship with a Bridget Randell (nee Gleeson) and had a son John, born in 1860, who was my Grandfather, also a daughter Margaret, born in 1862 and there was possibly a third child.
    Bridget arrived in Australia from Ireland (Tipperary) in 1853 on the “Earl of Elgin” (father Patrick, mother Mary) and married John Randell in 1854 at Broulee. They had a daughter Elizabeth, born in 1855 and a son, John Thomas in 1856.

    My big challenge is to find out “what ever happened to Bridget”? I have just heard that she was living with a George Wright and may have died as a Wright.

    Do you happen to know anything about this side of the McLean family? I was very interested to see a photo of Donald McLean (my G/Grandfather’s brother). This is the only photograph that I have ever seen of that generation. You are to be congratulated for all the research in creating your website.
    Yours Faithfully,
    Beryl Longman (nee McLean)

    1. Hi Beryl.
      I might be able to help with Elizabeth and Bridget Randell
      my mother in-law is the grandaughter of Elizabeth Randell, she is still with it at 94.
      I hope to soon have info Bridget Gleeson Randall, John McLeans partner
      contact me if you wish to know more. Regards Barbara

      1. Hi Barbara,
        I have just seen your message and so excited. I have been trying to find descendants of Bridget for so long. I wondered if Elizabeth Randell had married John Nelson Plowman. Great that Bridget’s Great -Grandaughter is still living. There are so many descendants from John McLean and Bridget Gleeson. I would love to know all about Bridget and would be very happy to share my Family Tree. Great News. Regards Beryl.

  2. Dear Beryl,

    Thank you very much for your lovely email. It’s nice to hear from someone tracing the story of the McLeans. They sound like they were an interesting bunch of people. I’ve just actually added to the page some of the testimony given at the inquest into Janet’s death in 1868.

    The best sources for information so far have been “The Crookhaven” by FW Caffery, which is in the Mitchell Library in Sydney Q994.47 83, along with “Index To The Birth, Death, Marriage and Obituary Notices from the Shoalhaven Nrews 1867-1873″, published by the Shoalhaven Family History Society Inc, PO Box 591, NOWRA, NSW 2541 which is also in the Mitchell Library REF 4 Q929.39447 5. The photograph of Donald comes from the book by Caffery.

    I regret to say, at this stage, I have no idea what happened to Bridget either. One of the great struggles I’ve had with tracing my family history is that so many of them were either very poor or could neither read nor write, hence there’s not a lot of written history about them which helps to fill in the gaps. That’s why I hope this website will put enough information out in the public space so those gaps can be filled with a “collective brains trust”.

    I hope that we can continue to correspond about the McLeans.

  3. I have received an email from a gentleman who asks a question to which I do not know the answer. Can you help with an answer?

    > My Jeremiah Green( postmaster,first storekeeper,mayor etc. in Nowra/Shoalhaven) had a daughter Clara who married a John Maclean in Shoalhaven/Nowra. John was born about 1860. He and Clara had daughters Jesse, Amy, Gertrude and Petronella and son Walter. The Macleans owned one or more newspapers in Nowra and the nearby area. By any chance is this part of your family?


  4. Hi James,

    Thank you for your E-mails dated 23rd and 25th June. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any connection with my John McLean and the John and Clara Maclean mentioned in your E-mail. If I find any information later I will let you know.

    Beryl Longman.

  5. Dear James,

    Thanks so much for all the information on your website.

    After a gap of a couple of years I’ve very recently returned to researching my family’s past primarily, because one of my sisters has suddenly also become interested in it.

    I had already entered a lot of the information about Allan and Janet into my family history program as our great-great grandmother was also an Isabella Maclean on the “Brilliant”. Not being able to find any other Isabella Macleans on the passenger list I had done a bit of research on your forebears until the inconsistencies became too great.

    Now having access to the “Brilliant” passengers on the Internet we have discovered Bel Maclean, who has to be our Isabella, listed as a single female but no other details. I missed her completely when I looked at the reel of the passengers on the “Brilliant” at the library some years ago.

    You will have noticed the discrepancies in the ages given on the passenger roll (e.g. Allan was said to be 49 on departure in 1837 and Janet 40 – maybe they counted differently in those days) and also the discrepancy in the arrival date of the “Brilliant”. The roll gives it as 2 January 1838, while other sources have it as 20 January, 22 January and 24 January. It is one of the reasons that I liked your Isabella so much because she was the right age, whereas Bel is not.

    Isabella (Bel) died in November 1847 at Strathaird at the age of 28, which would have made her 20 in 1837 when she left Scotland, not 28, as she would have been if she was born in 1809.

    Why I am really writing to you, though, is to tell you that I have a date of birth for Donald of 15 April 1823. I do not remember where I got it from (the unpardonable sin of not noting sources) but it’s probably correct as all the other birthdates for the children on your website are the same as what I already had.

    If we could go back far enough I imagine we would find that the Isabellas have common ancestors at some point.

    Kind regards,


  6. Hello Norma, thank you very much for the information about Donald and I’m glad the information here could help to clarify a couple of points in your own research. The shipping records for the Brilliant are amazing, given the number of people called McLean on board, so it’s no wonder if was confusing. Cheers, James

  7. My mother’s Great Grandmother JESSIE/JENNET/JANET ? MCLEAN CAME ON BRILLIANT 1838
    She married JOHN MCNEIL( from which union we descend) on the Manning and after his death a DELAMORE WYNTER.
    She was born Mar 24 1831 in SALINE/TOBERMORY ISLE OF MULL SCOTLAND so she came as a child. For her parents I have JOHN MCLEAN AND GRACE MCINNES.
    The bit that interested me was that she died Jul 4 1915 MANTLE HILL MORUYA.
    One of her daughters Elizabeth Sarah married a thomson in Moruya in 1902.
    I haven’t seen the shipping records for the BRILLIANT
    Thanks for the article. Most interesting.'s-heritage-web-site
    yrs Lynne.

  8. Hi Lynne,
    Great to hear from you. I remember looking at the records and seeing something like 50 or 60 people on the Brilliant called McLean! Also, by way of co-incidence, I’m distantly related to some Sanders. My sister married a man called Hyland and his sister married a man called Sanders. It’s been years since I’ve seen them, though I remember growing up around the children in LIsmore. Don’t suppose there’s a connection?

  9. James, its not our immediate family but the Sanders were almost all North Coast. Mostly Kinchela and Kempsey. We grew up in Sydney. I am never cynical about the possibilities of connections. I am on Tweed myself and have just found all the lines of my mothers family in the tiny village I have moved to ( without knowing the ancestry trail) Yrs Lynne.

  10. Hello

    My great, great grandfather, Hugh McPherson arrived in NSW on the ‘Brilliant’ around 1838.
    He was born in Argylshire, Scotland.
    Would be grateful for any information about his parents.
    I have his death certificate from NSW BDM.
    I was born in Australia, and now live in Scotland.
    Many thanks. Diana

    1. Hi Diana Hughs brother Alexander Brilliant who was born on the way to Australia is my great grandfather all I know is the parents names were Archibald and Margaret both aged 36 on arrival in Australia Archibalds fathers name was James I have only started looking into the family tree but I know my late uncle kept a lot of Records but I cant locate them at this stage I have the old family bible please keep in touch Im originaly from the hunter valley where the family settled thanks Gary

      1. Hello Gary. My Father James McPherson was born on Mull in 1909. The family arrived in Sydney in December 1914. Father, Peter McP. Mother, Mary Murray. Siblings Neil, Flora, Kenneth an Hugh. They lived around Bellingen, Dorrigo and Sawtell NSW. There are no other Australian connections to my knowledge. My son is the last of this McPherson line.
        I am interested in any Murray/McPherson history from Scotland. My fathers actual birthplace is shown as Carsaig in old family papers, but I do not have anything ese from Scotland.
        Any leads would be appreciated.
        Thanks Rob

        1. Hi Rob I dont think I can help you Im going to Ardnamurchan in April this year to see if I can trace any more of my family looking forward to the trip if anything comes up I will let you know

  11. Is Norma Ward related to Ann McLean who married Joseph Ward? Their daughter, Charlotte married into the Kollner family (my grandfathers descendents) – any info greatly appreciated

  12. hello James, I’m always on the lookout for Mull ‘strays’, and saw your reference to Janet McFarlane.
    It’s possible that she was actually born Kilmore & Kilbride [usually Oban, Ardnamurchan or Aharacle] rather than Mull. I have searched for her [using name variations], but cannot find her birth/baptism. I assume that i’ve found her brother Duncan [same parents]and other siblings. Duncan married Flora Cameron, and HIS family remained on Mull [his oldest son Donald, born 1828 Aharacle]. Janet would of course have visited him and her nieces/nephews on Mull

  13. hello James, in answer to Diana’s question regarding Hugh McPherson’s parents – the answer is Archibald McPherson and Margaret Unknown. I have tried to trace this family [my mother was a McPherson] without any real success. What i do know, is that they were NOT from Tiree/Coll [listed as being from ‘elsewhere’] – also unlikely Isle of Mull. My guess would be from somewhere on the mainland, possibly Oban, Kilbride area.

    McPherson Archibald 36
    Margaret 35
    John 18
    Anne 16
    Mary 14
    James 12
    Hugh 10 >> [‘writing unclear’ in transcribed list]
    Catherine 8
    Lachlan 6
    Sarah 4
    Donald 2
    infant boy

  14. Hi [again]James, In reply to Lynne’s comments re her McLean family.

    The date given for Janet is that for the following family, IGI – and from 1841 Census below

    Birth: 24 MAR 1831 Salen By Tobermory, Argyll

    1841 Salen
    McLaine Donald 40 Sheriff officer Y this County
    McLaine Cathrine 35 Y this County [nee McPhail]
    McLaine Ann 15 Y this County
    McLaine Charles 14 Y this County
    McLaine Lachlan 12 Y this County [Tiree]
    McLaine Jannet 8 Y this County [Salen, Mull]

    Lynne’s family as follows from the Brilliant list

    McLean John 32, Grace 27; Mary 7, John 5, Jessy 3, Alexander 5/12 [5mths]

    Unfortunately, i cannot trace this family’s origins, but once again listed as being from ‘elsewhere’ [i.e. NOT Coll/Tiree]

  15. Michael, thank you for your posts and your info. I’ve emailed Diana and Lynne to tell them of your posts, so hopefully you guys can share some more info. I’m a bit confused by your first post though… which Janet do you mean? Anyway, good to hear from you. Cheers James

  16. Hi James, I assumed it was your Janet McFarlane – the one who married Allan McLean in the article above.

    I really think she was born Kilbride [mainland]. I have details of siblings, including her brother Duncan [who died on Mull]

  17. Hi Michael, that’s excellent news. I think you’re absolutely correct. Looking at the Shipping Records, it says she was a native of the district of Lorne. Could you please send through details as I would like to explore this line further? Cheers, James

  18. As you can see from above I am Allan Joseph McLean. I was born in Lismore NSW 3rd May 1941 where I lived before joing the Army in 1959.
    My father was also ALLAN JOSEPH McLEAN born in the Lismore district on 7th February 1909 where he lived most of his life until 1960 when he moved to Sydney.
    Whilst in the Lismore district he worked as a share farmer and house painter. He married Kathleen Reid whose father was Thomas Reid.
    My father’s father was Thomas McLean who lived all his life in the Lismore district. His last address prior to his death was in Coraki NSW.
    I don’t know if we are related in any way to the McLean’s on the “Brilliant” but it would be interesting to find out.


  19. Sent by Michael on January 4

    hi James – below are details of Janet’s brother Duncan’s family – you may not see this correctly with ‘text’ selection in OE [you have to set to ‘html’]

    Duncan’s brother Malcolm died 1857 Salen, Mull

    Duncan McFARLANE
    Birth : 01 May 1795, Kilmore & Kilbride
    Christened : 02 May 1795, Kilmore & Kilbride
    Died : 02 Feb 1864, Tobermory
    Buried :
    Father : John McFARLANE
    Mother : Ann SINCLAIR
    Marriage : Flora CAMERON
    Children : Donald 11 Oct 1828 –
    Ann c. 1830 –
    Isabella 26 Jan 1834 – after 1864
    Mary 23 Oct 1838 –
    John 23 Oct 1838 –
    Archibald c. 1840 –
    Duncan c. 1843 –

    Death Informant – Isabella McFarlane, daughter. Duncan – aged 69, widower, late {?} maltsman distillery Ledag

    1841 Census Tobermory – Ledag
    MCFARLANE Duncan M 45 Sheriff Argyllshire
    MCFARLANE Flora F 40 Argyllshire [nee Cameron]
    MCFARLANE Donald M 12 Argyllshire
    MCFARLANE Ann F 10 Argyllshire
    MCFARLANE Isabella F 7 Argyllshire
    MCFARLANE Mary F 5 Argyllshire
    MCFARLANE John M 2 Argyllshire
    MCFARLANE Archibald M 1 Argyllshire


    Duncan’s sister Janet / Parents John + Ann Mary Sinclair
    McFARLANE Janet b. 1790 died 05 Dec 1868 Crookhaven NSW Oz
    m. Allan McLean 23 May 1816 Tiree


    Duncan’s brother Malcolm died 1857, Salen


    1. DONALD MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 14 NOV 1800
    2. DONALD MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Christening: 16 NOV 1800 Kilmore And Kilbride, Argyll, Scotland

    3. ANN MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 26 OCT 1803
    4. ANN MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Christening: 29 OCT 1803 Kilmore And Kilbride, Argyll, Scotland

    5. JOHN MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 08 APR 1789
    6. JOHN MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Christening: 10 APR 1789 Kilmore And Kilbride, Argyll, Scotland

    7. DUNCAN MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 01 MAY 1795
    8. DUNCAN MCFARLANE – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Christening: 02 MAY 1795 Kilmore And Kilbride, Argyll, Scotland

  20. I am looking for A John McLean who was born on 16 August 1838 in Bengally ??? he died in Urbenville New South Wales on 29 December 1925 and is buried there He was married to Georgina Ellen Duncan I am related to one of his children Ernest Finlay McLean who was my Grandfather any information at allto where John came from ???

  21. hi i have just had an intresting day talking with an american mr donald green who was reasearhing the greens family tree and he had some intrestind names and date untill i get a full copy of the family tree but it would appear that a green past or present is or was the post mater of nowera post office i have visited nowera many times on visits to australia my wifes brother lives in kiama withe his daughter and has another daughter who hasthe spring creek reatreat in kiama can you supply any details about the greens of nowera please derek bull

  22. Hi James,

    Entirely agree with you on Keith’s sites. Absolutely fantastic. I came across your info on the Mclean’s whilst trying to establish more info on my Farquhar Mclean who was a carpenter on the Isle of Mull in the mid to late 1700’s. All I have on him at the moment is that his daughter was Annie McLean who married Donald Campbell a farmer ? Isle of Mull or Coll their daughter became Catherine nee Campbell became John Fras/zer’s wife ex Isle of Mull. John and Catherine their children and another of John’s brother’s with his children came to Australia on British King ex Tobermory on the British King in 1839. John and several of his siblings where born on Coll, with his grand father coming from the Isle of Rum.
    My contact details are on Keith’s site. Would love to exchange info with you.


    Researching the following families:- Macquarrie, Fraser / Frazer, Campbell, McLean, Jackson and Fulton.

  23. Hi James.
    I believe that Neil McLean and Sarah McEwan of Rotorua are my great grandparents. (My mothers father was called Charlie McLean and was their son).
    I have forwarded your site to my mother to verify this as I have just asked her to do some family tree information for me.
    Best of luck.
    Heather Clark.

    1. Hi Heather,

      Regarding you Charlie McLEAN – did he mar Winifred Mary PARKER 1914, Auckland, New Zealand?

      Kindest regards,

  24. Hi, me again. I wonder if you would mind forwarding my email to NZ based Alec McLean who I believe to be my mothers cousin so I can get more geneology info from him?
    That would be greatly appreciated.
    Heather Clark.

      1. Thanks James. Much appreciated!
        Alec contacted me today.
        Hope you are well and happy over in Ozland!

      2. Gidday James
        Once again congratulations on your fantastic site. Great to get in touch with Beryl Longman, who filled in a huge blank in the McLean family tree, and also Heather Clark. Heather’s mother Sally and I are cousins, but have lost touch over the years. we have another Australian connection which needs completing and wonder whether you or any of your readers might have any information. My Grandfather, John Neil McLean, had a brother Allan. Allan was married to Elvira (Elvie). They had two sons, Allan killed in WWI, and Dr Ivan McLean. Allan’s WWI record says he was killed at Battle for Amiens on 8.08.18, son of Allan and Elvira McLean of Numba New South Wales , buried at St Pierre Cemetery, Amiens. Wonder if anyone can throw any light on Dr Ivan McLean or his descendents.
        Many thanks
        Alec McLean

        1. Hi everyone.
          Amazing website! this is great! I have a strong feeling I am connected to your group of McLean’s but not in a real positive way. I have proof of an Alexander McLean living in Shoalhaven in 1854-55. He was injured (direct term used was that he was “an invalid there at the time”) around December 1854 and was staying with a Dr Aldcorn in Mayfield, Shoalhaven. While there he fooled around with a servant, Christina Lamond and she then bore a child around September 1855. in 1856 a small claims court found Alexander “Sandy” McLean guilty and ordered him to pay child support for 2 years from 1857-1859.

          Could this be your Alexander McLean?

          The illegitimate child went on to become World Champion Sculler John McLean whom Allison Draper was enquiring about below. Very interesting stuff! If anybody can shed light on Alexander McLean (son of Allan and Janet) and his possible whereabouts at the end of 1854, beginning of 1855, I would be very much interested as if this is the case, I am very much involved in everything on this site! Please pass my email/details on to interested parties!

          Kind Regards,

          Matt McLean

  25. Hi James, thought you may be interested. My daughters are getting interested in our family tree so I have started collating information for them. My mothers family (McLean) all come from Lismore. Mother Ann (born 1935) was one of three daughters Ann, Kaye (still living in Lismore) and Lesley (passed away). Their parents were James (Jim) Brown McLean and Lily Mavis McLean (nee Carrol)..Jim had a brother Jack and sister Isabelle. Their parents were Sam McLean and Charlotte (nee Brown). Sam owned the McLean General Store in Lismore, passing over to the boys on his death. We are descendants from a John McLean and one of my relatives Jean has done extensive research into his life and organised a scottish cairn honouring him in Lismore. It would be interesting to see if anything Jean uncovered in her memorabilia had any connection to any of the other McLeans mentioned before. I dont know if John came over on the “Brilliant” but am sure there must be heaps of cross over connections as members from the same families may have come over together but decided to settle in different areas, thus creating their own branch of the family. Very interesting, but can sometimes be a bit confusing the further back you go. Lovely checking out the site. Have fun…Kim (p.s. I know I have a few Alec’s as relatives…wonder if i’m related to Alec above??)..

    1. Hi Kim, great to hear from you. McLeans shop (s) – there were two as I recall – in Lismore were legendary. It was our version of Grace Bros or David Jones. If the connection is complete, what a fascinating connection. I’m guessing that since you and Alec have common relatives, it’s probably true. Wow. James.

      1. Hi James…I just got back from Mums and she has given me a whole lot of information that Jean (she is actually a cousin I have figured out) had gathered for the Cairn to John McLean. It is great, but has also opened a pandoras box for me as there are now numerous other questions to be answered!!! There is a newpaper article from the Richmond River Historical Society that states John (of the Duart Clan) was born Feb 1835 in Argyleshire in Scotland on the hills of Morven, moving at an early age to the Island of Mull. Aged nearly 3, on 20/01/1838 he arrived with his Free Church?? parents and other family members on the ship “Brilliant”. They settled in the Hunter district near Morpeth. After leaving home and trying his luck in various areas like the Snowy River Diggings, in 1853 the young John arrived in the Manning River District purchasing scrub land, planting maize and running a successful farm. In 1864, in Sydney he married Mary Gibson, daughter of Manning River District pioneer Samuel Gibson (no wifes name given) who himself had 3 boys Robert, Sam and Hugh and two daughters (one of them being Mary). The two daughters married the brothers John and Donald McLean. Donald is my only named reference to any of John’s immediate family but I dont know when and why he left the family back in the Hunter district and ended up marrying Johns wife’s sister. Also, no articles mention the name of the other Gibson daughter so I dont know if she and Donald produced heirs for the McLean family as well as John and Mary. John and Mary’s children were Mary (b1865 d 1927),John (b1867 d1905) Samuel (b.1870 d1932 – my great grandfather) Alexander (b.1873 d1894), Grace (b1875 d 1945) Eliza Jane (b1878 d1879) Eliza Jane – same name? (b1881 d1945) Allan Donald (b1882 d 1935). Patriach Samuel Gibson moved his entire family north to the Richmond area in either 1871 or 1873 (I have two conflicting sources).. this included his three sons, two married daughters and their families (i.e.John and Mary and apparently by this stage also unnamed sister and Donald!!). I have no idea as to what happened to the other McLean family members John and Donald must have had and left behind. They settled in the area known as the Big Scrub later McLeans Ridges (near the present site of Alstonville/Wollongbar. John McLean and other settlers helped erect a butter factory at Springhill, near Wollongbar and was successfully involved in many other business ventures. After Mary died in 1905 John moved to Lismore ultimately living with Allan (my great great uncle) but was buried back at Wollongbar when he died in 1923. Obviously my great grandfather Sam was named after his mothers father Samuel Gibson. And yes Sam McLean (John and Mary’s third child) did general storekeeping before establishing a draper shop in Woodlark Street Lismore later moving to Molesworth Street to found S.McLean Pty Ltd., in 1900. His wife Charlotte was born in Glasgow Scotland and was daughter of James Brown (co-founder of Brown & Jollys). I have also discovered that Aunt Issie (as we knew her) was actually Isobel not the way I spelt it previously. Also my great great uncle Jack …one of sams sons (as we knew him) was actually John Morven McLean. And so it goes on….I would just love to know did the young three old come over with just Donald or where there more siblings ….and also who were his parents?? The Richmond River Historical Society and the Northern Star files at the local university were the sources of most of the above. Cheers Kim

        1. Seems there are a lot of McLean descendants out there. I am from the John McLean/Grace McInnes line that arrived on board the Brilliant 1838-39 voyage. They settled in Morpeth area havng been sponsored (bounty) by a landowner from that area. They farmed in this district until 1852 thence to Oxley Island Manning River area where they purchased several blocks of land. Sons John and Donald Hugh marry Samuel Gibson’s daughters in 1864. Donald Hugh McLean is my Great Great grandfather and he married Eliza Gibson. They stay on Oxley Island until early 1870’s when they all move (Gibsons as well) to the Richmond River area and purchase land at what becames “McLeans Ridges”. There is also a connection to property at Deep Ck near Casino/Mallanganee. Donald + Eliza have a son Samuel McLean who becomes a Mounted Police Constable and is stationed at Emu Plains in 1899. Samuel is my Great Grandfather. Son Charles Robert McLean 1899-1973, my grandfather marries Lillian Alice McConnell in 1928 and settles at Harbord NSW where they live until their respective deaths (1973 and 1989). There is a site called North Coast Pioneers that has lots of good information about the pioneering families that settled and opened up the north coast region of NSW. The Foster Family site and Cameron site also good. Many of the clan members who ventured to Australia as ‘bounty immigrants’ settled close to each other. Their connections clearly endured the tyranny of distance from their beloved homeland. What the Scottish and British sought to dismember still lives on in Australia. Cheers to all the McLeans, McConnells and their descendants.

          1. Hi Sue, Great to find another of (our) McLEAN descendants. Thank you for our kind comment on my FOSTER website which has chapters (10-12) devoted to the McLEAN family. You mention the North Coast Pioneers and the Cameron sites… their information is derived from my research which these sites have kindly acknowledged. You will find your section of our family at:
            Look forward to receiving an e-mail from you… if you go to the bottom of any of my website pages you will find my e-mail link. It would be great to compare notes.

        2. Hi there Kim. A bit late but one child of John and Mary Mclean (Gibson) was Mary born 13th March 1865 at Oxley Island. Morher Mary was 26 and John 30 at the time. Mr John Laing was a witness. Mary Gibson was born at Nelson Plains. The family moved to McLeans Ridge where Mary married Wiliam Gilmore in 1887. William was born at Oyster Bank in 1852. William’s older brother David was my Great grandfather who was born in Nelson Plains1849. I was born in Murwillumbah 1943. If you want a copy of a book I have written on the family it is on dvd and written in WORD7, let me know,ok. No charge. Philip Strong has a copy.
          All the best
          Denis and Sue Gilmore

          1. Hi Denis….I haven’t done anything on the family history for ages, raising a family and working doesn’t leave a lot of spare time but I came across this site again and just saw your comments….will send you a private email but would love to see what info you have found….thanks…Kim ….

        3. Kim

          I am the great grandson of Alexander McLean (Born 1878 Wollongbar). He is the son of Neil McLean younger brother to your John McLean who sailed from Tobermory on the Brilliant. Happy to share what I have as I am currently putting together the lives of John – Neil – Alexander McLean who are my direct line to the McLeans of Mull.

        4. Hi there Kim
          Denis Gilmore is my name, and I think I have contacted you before re Mary McLean but if not, here is my story. Mary’s father was John and mother was Mary (nee Gibson). and she was born on Oxley Island on the 13th of March 1864. John was 30 and his wife was 26 at the time. My great uncle, William Gilmore married Mary McLean on the 14th August 1887 at John McLean’s home at McLean’s Ridge, ‘Gowrie’. Alan McLean and Phoebe McKinnon were witness at the their wedding. William and Mary are buried at the Byron Bay Cemetery. I do have a photo of William milking cow son his farm which is great to have. When Mary died in 1927 William was living in Byron Bay in Marvel St along with his daughter Masie Jane. and sons Allan and Alexander were living in Bangalow Road. William was one of my great uncles and his brother Alexander, born in Pampoola 19/9/1882, was my grandfather. his wife Mabel Irene (Nee Blow) my grand mother. They were married in Alstonville in 1906.
          Myself, I was born in Murwillumbah 2/12/1943.

    1. Hello James and a happy New Year to you. Re-reading this page, I also noted that TOWAMBA was mentioned. I don’t know of any relational connection to the family mentioned in your page( Isabella McLean) but my son’s partner (the mother of my granddaughter) is a Macdonald from Towamba. They are just back from Christmas down there. The Silver Spiders’ Webs of Connection are intriguing. ( P.S. My son uses the name ‘Mad O’Brien” for any internet work he does. We have no idea why and the similarity was brought to my attention just then. ). Yrs Lynne. PS. I still haven’t matched the Lismore Sanders.

      1. Hi Lynne, at the funeral this week there was some discussion of family history, and I mentioned to my relatives who are related to the Sanders this connection. In essence, my brother in law’s sister was Vonnie mentioned below. James

        SANDERS, Henry Hannan C 143 d.1915 Buried Grafton. From BDM. See also D.4 (wife).
        SANDERS, James William Stacey J 280 d.1987 Buried Tucki.
        SANDERS, Kathleen Mary (nee ?) LD 155 d.2003 Buried Lismore?
        SANDERS, Martha Emma (nee AVERY) D 4 d.1926 Buried Grafton.
        SANDERS, Veronica Olivia (Von), Miss KH 14 d.1991 In Memoriam. Died 1991. Also known as Bonnie. Items pp.14 & 16.

  26. Hi I have just started doing my hisband’s family tree and cannot find any information on his father James McLean , the only thing i have to go by is that James’s father was also James McLean and his mother was May Kennon/McLean,and it states on his death certificate that he was born in Gravesend N.S.W about 1906.
    If there is anyone who can help I would gratfully appreciate it.
    Information shared is information gained I say.
    Great site.
    Regards Win

  27. Hi James – I have my cousin Heather coming round to talk family tree this afternoon – you put Heather in touch with me. Thought I would check your website – haven’t done so for ages.

    Delighted to see the comment from Catherine Ring, Janet Perk’s sister. Janet was a big help with information about the Australian side of McLean family, and unltimately leading to your website.

    I would be very happy for you to pass on my email address to Catherine. I would love to get in touch with her.

    Best regards

    Alec McLean

  28. Hi james,
    I have found your site very interesting. I am a decesendant of Alexander McLean and Ann Robertson. Their daughter Mary Flora McLean married my great Grandfather Archibald McDonald from Pyree via Nowra NSW. Their son Allan McDonald is my grandfather.
    They lived in the shoalhaven for all their lives and are buried at the local cemetry. I would be only to happy to share my information on my direct line with those who are interested.
    Judy Bennett

    1. Hi Judy – would be interested to get the details of your branch of the family sometime. My grandfather John Neil McLean was Mary’s brother. John cam to New Zealand in the late 1800s. Catherine Ring who still lives in Nowra – I think there is an exchange with her further down this message trail – Catherine is a mine of information about the family.
      Alec McLean (NZ)

  29. While I am not of these families here I would just like to say how interesting it is to read all this. I am fairly new to family history research apart from casually gathering info from relatives. The internet is such an amazing tool. At present I am searching for information about Cameron’s. While searching for an elusive ancestor, George Foster I came across an interesting site which has a lot of information not just about the Cameron’s but also families connected to them.
    My Cameron ancestors came on the ship Brilliant arriving 1838 so I am interested in reading information about those days and the people connected to them.

    1. Hi Ruth, lovely to meet/hear from you. I’m glad this is of interest to people other than descendants. I’m interested in having a look at the Cameron website when I return from holiday. Thank you for the link. James

  30. Dear James,
    I have some information on Mary McLean (1830)
    I have a death extract (8493/1909) and it says that she was married to a ? Comben, with a mother named Janet and a father named Allan.
    Could this be the same Mary?

  31. Hi Janet and Allan,
    What a great family website. I am searching both my wife and my family’s tree and have ended up with a number of dead ends in Scotland.
    One of my wife’s branches were the MCQeens who came out on the Midlothian in 1837 as part of a migation from the Isle of Skye. So your info on the Brillant is great for background info.
    Regards Allan

  32. Hi thought I might add a little to your world.
    My family are descendants of John and Bridget Randall nee Gleeson, their daughter Elizabeth married John Nelson Plowman at Inverell NSW 1872. John Randall died age 27 in 1857 with a 1 and 2 yr old. Bridget was with John McLean and had a child in 1860 followed by two more by 1866.
    still looking for Bridget`s death and place of burial. Elizabeth is buried at Windsor, St Matthews Anglican Church Cemetery she died 1919. Her husband John N Plowman is buried at Brewarrina NSW died 1909.
    Have recently put their F History together.
    Loved finding your site Congratulations, will give much joy to others. Barbara

  33. Hi, I am descended from a Peter and Christina Mclean also from the Shoalhaven area, there children have many of the same names as he ones you mention (I’m guessing they might be family names), have you come across this pair in your research?

  34. Hi. I am descended from a Hector MacPherson/McPherson – my great great grandfather – and his wife Catherine. I only have have names and dates at the moment. Has anyone heard anything about this couple or their children. I know they started in Shoalhaven and moved up to Lismore….

  35. hello james
    my grandfather-edward mcdonald mclean was born in inverness scotland, then he came out to australia…
    my question to you is one of your ancesters came from inverness, and my grandfather who was born in 1900, might have known one of your mcleans
    can you check up to see if anyone knew him
    his parents is
    archibald mclean/margaret stewart hutchison
    they both was born in lanark glasgow…
    have came accross any ancesters who come into my side

  36. I am hoping someone can help. I am chasing a John McLean who married Henrietta Tyler at Wardell. Our John was a publican at Coraki and Alstonville. Whilst there he became World Champion Sculler in 1890-91. Newspaper reports quote him as being born 1855 Shoalhaven. He died in Sydney 1928 at age 73 and his bdm says that his parents are Alexander & Christina. I am just trying to get as much information on him as I can as there is a lot of John McLeans up here. We have quite a bit on the Mcleans of McLeans Ridges and the Gibson Connection (not my John McLean). My John & Henrietta had 5 children.

  37. Thank you for this very interesting record of life in Scotland and aboard the Brilliant. I am a descendant of Mary McKillop. You have had a link to ‘father of Mary McKillop’ but the link is not functioning at the moment. I am wondering what information you have about him. Many thanks for everything you have put together here.

  38. For Alison Draper above:
    Hi Alison – I received from Catherine Ring in Nowra, a copy of the “Shoalhaven River Regattas 150 Years – 1855 to 2005″ by Robyn Florance.
    In there is a photo (which we thought MUSt be a relative as he is so like me when I was rowing but seems not!)”
    “John/Jack McLean
    John McLean was born at Crookhaven on 17th September 1856, a son of Alexamnder McLean and his Christina Lamond. Jack McLean married Henrietta Tyler at Lismore in 1856 andf they had five children.
    On the Parramatta River in1889, World Champion sculler Peter Kemp defeated John Mclean in 21m 45 s. The following year on 15 December, McLean became World sculling champion by defeating Kemp at the same venue in a time of 22m 13s. The following year Jim Stanbury defeated McLean on the Parramatta River on 28 April in a time of 22m 15-5s. A rematch on the 7th July 1891 between these two scullers produced the same result. The Parramatta course was shortened for the event and Stanbury won in a record time of 18 m 25s. McLean from Shoalhaven was a tough axeman. ‘Banjo’ Paterson is quoted as saying “McLean, an axeman, who could fell any tree, using an axe in either hand, and never resting until the tree came down”.
    In December 1907 it was reported in the local press that John McLean was trying to establish a rowing club at Port Macquarie. John McLean dies at his residence 57 Clifton Rd, Clovelly on 21 Jan 1928, aged 73 years.”
    Family story (although this is not mentioned anywhere in the Shoalhaven history) is that my great uncle Alexander coached Jim Stanbury. My Aunt Jean said that Alexander took Stanbury to compete in the States, but the Americans for some reason wouldn’t let him race. The goldrush in the Klondike happened and Alexander went up there. Very little heard of him since. I have found him mentioned in a census in 1912, but nothing else.

    Hope the above helps.



    1. Hi Alec, I have just found this page and find it really great. My husband is a descendant from Allan and Janet daughter Mary who married Christopher Brown. Christopher was also a boat builder from Eden before he moved to Brogo to farm. There is an article on ‘Trove’ about Alexander McLean when he was in the Klondike. This is the link Klondike&searchLimits=


      1. Hi Chris,

        I’m a great great great grand daughter of Christopher and Mary Brown. I’m trying to trace Christopher Brown arrival into Australia. I just received info that states Christopher was a widower when he married Mary. Age 35 and Mary was 17. I have also found info on a boat that Christopher built at Moruya “Thetis ” in 1847.
        Do you have any detail you can share?


        1. Hi Amanda – The Moruya and District Historical Society sent me some useful information about Christopher and his boat-building. If you let me have your email I can send you what they sent me – James can pass my email on to you if you want to proceed.

          Alec McLean (Wellington, NZ)

  39. Thanks Alec. Now wondering if that book is still in print as it would be a good resource for us up here as well.
    I have a copy of the newspaper quote of McLean an axeman…I also have collected newspaper reports on quite a few of his races…even the Richmond River races. His file is expanding and I have also a file started on the Tyler family. Once again thank you so much.

    1. Hi Alison – not in print as far as I know. Catherine Ring (McLean) sent me over a copy. Catherine is a great source of family info. She lives in Nowra, and lived for many years on the McLean family farms in Shoalhaven area. I have only just twigged having read Matt McLean’s message that your Alexander (father of John the sculler) could indeed be my gt grandfather – Hadn’t given a thought to the fact that John could be result of extra-marital liaison with Christina Lamond. Fascinating if we could establish that – Matt’s facts seem to support it. I will ask Catherine if she knows anything. Would add a whole new string to the family, and the additional rowing connection is amazing.

  40. Hi there,

    I was hoping I could get in touch with any descendants of Allan McLean’s son, Alexander McLean. I understand Alec McLean of NZ is a great source and if anybody else has info I would love to know? As mentioned above, I have reason to believe that Alexander McLean had an illegitimate child with a Christina Lamond which produced the World Champion Sculler mentioned above by Alison Draper. I have Court Records showing the Child support case for an Alexander McLean living in Shoalhaven in 1856. If anybody has info or would like to try help me follow this lead I would be happy to discuss?
    matt.dylan (at)

    Have any of you McLean’s participated in the DNA side of ancestry? would be interesting to see if there are any connections? I have a kit here from 23andme and would be happy to share results?

    Thanks for your time and again, amazing site!


  41. Hi Matt – sorry if you get two messages posted on this, as I started drafting then hit a wrong button and it went off into the ether. Your email is really fascinating! I had assumed that the Alexander mentioned by Alison Draper, and my Grt Grandfather Alexander, were not connected, as we had no record of a Christina Lamond in any of our family records, and the John McLean world champion sculler dates didn’t seem to fit with anything I had, despite our family’s great rowing history on the Shoalhaven. Gets confusing as there are so many Allan/Alexander/John McLeans too. Hadn’t even thought of the possibility that John McLean may be illigitimate son of my Grt Grandfather! The dates and the records you refer to seem to tie in. That would be an amazing connection. I am fascinated because of the rrowing connection as well – also the photo we have seen of John McLean is a great family resemblance too. Would love to take part in the DNA thing, but don’t know how we go about that. Happy to discuss and for James to pass on my email address to you.

    1. Hi Alec! Thanks a lot for getting back to me! I have slowly been gaining more and more info and would be happy to pass any of it on to you!

      For those interested in McLean DNA testing, there is a US site which compares the DNA of males with McLean/MacLean/Maclaine etc surnames.

      There is also another one called 23andme which myself and my father and uncles have joined which gives you some pretty serious info about your Genetic Health (ie likelihood of contracting certain diseases etc…not everybody’s cup of tea but an interesting one to remind you to get tested for certain things!) and your genetic likeness to the other people in the database. (The biggest DNA database I could find worldwide). Not sure if either really give any conclusive results. I guess the only thing to come out of it is if any of you folks were to get tested and I came up as a distant relative then all these theories about John McLean as illegitimate descendant are true! haha.

      I am happy for anybody to contact me in regards to what I have found? Alec if you wanted to email me we could discuss a few things? just copy and remove the spaces from the following

      matt.dylan @

      Kind Regards,

      Matt McLean

  42. Hi James – con’t find the war record of Allan McLean died WWI 9 Aug 1918. Usally pretty easy on all the Comm Wargrave sites etc. Can you throw any light on that?

    1. Hi Alec, wondering if this could be the one?

      McLean Allan : SERN 6145 : POB Cambewarra NSW : POE Sydney NSW : NOK M McLean Elvira
      Contents date range
      1914 – 1920
      Series number
      Click to see which government agency or person created this item.
      Control symbol
      MCLEAN A
      Item barcode
      Access status
      Date of decision
      12 Apr 2001
      Physical format
      PAPER FILES AND DOCUMENTS (allocated at series level)
      Records authority class number
      Date registered
      10 Apr 1997

    1. Thanks Alec. That’s brilliant. I’d seen the article some years ago, but had misplaced it. Will include in the article above. Cheers, James

      Source: Greenwell Point Gazette

      Why “Titania Park” won the prize

      Our local historian, R.J.Walliss, who compiled “Greenwell Point—An early Shoalhaven Port-” had submitted the name, and has supplied the following:-

      Donald McLean, who had visited the Californian Goldfields in the early 1850’s, arrived in the Shoalhaven and was joined by his bothers, Alexander, Hector, Archibald and John. Along the bank of the Crookhaven, they built the sailors “Numbaa”and “Titania,” followed by the “Janet”. The latter was named after their mother, and was sometimes referred to as the “Janet McFarlane.”

      We know the most about the “Titania,” because its log is still in existence. The sailing ketch was built on the banks of Crookhaven Creek in 1855. It had a carvel hull, and was originally 31.6 tons, 51 feet long, 15feet wide and had a draught of 8 feet. It was rebuilt as a schooner of 57 tons in 1864. It was acquired by Thomas Caffery in 1864, and was wrecked at Brunswick River entrance in 1879.

      Donald McLean’s log of the “Titania” dating from February,1856, to 28th June 1862, provides us with the names of the farmers along the l o w e r Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers, and the produce they sent to Sydney.

      For example, in 1859, Donald McLean carried 409 tons of potatoes,. 8170 bushels of maize, 335 bushels of wheat, and 1994 bushels of barley, as well as pigs, kegs of butter, coops of fowls, boxes of eggs, pumpkins, sides of bacon, hides and turkeys.

      The list of farmers compiled from the log indicates that he collected produce from both the Crookhaven and Shoalhaven Rivers near Greenwell Point. One of the main suppliers of produce, was Monighan (sic) from Mayfield, having forwarded 124 tons of potatoes, 393 bushels of maize, 644 bushels of wheat, 61 bushels of barley, cheeses, kegs of butter, and bags of bacon over a 7 year period.

      These items were collected by Donald’s brother, Hector, by punt. He was paid two pounds, nine shillings and four pence in March 1857 for punting 22 tones of potatoes, and 383 bushels of maize down the Crookhaven to be loaded onto the “Titania.”

      Other large suppliers of cargo were the Aberdeens, who lived on Apple Orchard Island, and Andrew and Angus Noble, whose farm was opposite, on Comerong Island. This ship’s history demonstrates clearly what was happening around Greenwell Point in the mid 1850’s. Ships were being built, and farmers were producing food for the Sydney markets.

      Enterprising ship’s captains were collecting this produce, and delivering it to merchants in Sydney. Recent research by Russ Evans tells us that the “Titania” was built on the banks of the Crookhaven, not at Numbaa.

  43. I have recently been looking into the family of Duncan and Isabella Finlayson (Pyree), who was the father of Catherine who married Donald McLean. Duncan was one of my maternal great great grandfather’s (Donald Finlayson) younger brother. Donald and his wife Hannah came to Australia in 1858. Duncan and Isabella came in 1855.
    And its a small world. One of my paternal great great grandfathers was a Cameron. He and his large family were also on the Brilliant at the same time.

  44. Hi James – my sister and I have just spent a great weekend on the Shoalhaven with Catherine Ring (McLean). Great to see the family farms, the schoolhouse at Pryee, Greenwell Point, the Shoalhaven River etc. Catherine is Donald’s gt grandaughter. Liz McLean from Forbes came down too – Liz is closer to me as we are both gt grandchildren of Alexander McLean, Donald’s brother. Visited the graves of Allan McLean and Janet McFarlane. Catherine had a photo of Alexander McLean which I had vener seen before, so very worthwhile visit. As a rower myself, seeing the Shoalhaven was satisfying – all that family rowing history there. Once I sort out all the info I absorbed from Catherine, will try to send you more. If any other descendents of Allan and Janet are interested in their family history, would strongly recommend getting in touch with Catherine who lives at Nowra.

  45. james i might be related to you, through edward mcdonald mclean, can you send me his info so i can look it up… my edward mcdonald mclean was born on the 12 MAR 1900 in inverness scotland. his parents is archibald mclean/ margaret stewart hutchison

  46. PHIL
    Yes have focussed on my McLean heritage since finishing the story of Spencer Sivyer my great grandfather. I am writing the story of Alexander Allen and have pieced together his life pre 1907 and his move to Happy Jack Creek. Using your work as a reference to decipher which McLean is who I believe I have a good picture of his life. Will send you his birth registration which is interesting. Will also send you the story which I will place in the McLean section of my web site.
    My sister Linda and I plan to visit both the Alstonville and Richmond River historical society rooms for research purposes. Anything we find will pass on to you. I have made my own conclusions on Neil McLean and not complimentary unfortunately.
    Once again thanks for your work as it has allowed me to decipher which McLean belongs to me.

  47. Hi James

    I’m related to Mary McLean and Christopher Brown could you reference the date you have for their marriage.
    As I can find it on BDM.

    Many thanks


    1. Hi Amanda
      I don’t recall the source of the information, but there’s quite a few online references to their marriage in 1846.

      This article notes there may be some gaps in the registries prior to 1856, so this may explain the absence of a BDM record.

      “NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages: indexes and entries
      The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages provides online indexes to the pre-1856 baptisms, marriages and burials in their collection, and provide certified copies of the entries themselves. Sometimes these entries have been sourced from the original church registers which have found their way into the Registry’s collection, however from 1826 onwards most have been sourced from the Clergy Returns (see above), which are copies of the original registers (UC all copies include errors). The BDM Indexes themselves are problematic. They contain many errors which make individuals of interest difficult to locate.”

  48. Hi, I am related through the Finlayson line. Namely, Catherine Finlayson marrying Donald Mclean. I have only recently come across the Mclean family. Catherine Finlayson’s father was Duncan Finlayson and her mother was Isabella Cameron.I see that Catherine and Donald had a daughter Isabella McLean but I can’t find a birth or a death for her. Can anyone help here?


    1. Hi Jane – have you seen Catherine Ring’s comments in James’ main article above? Catherine is Duncan and Catherine’s great granddaughter. Catherine lives in Nowra and is a great source of family information. Isabella would have been Catherine’s great aunt. In my family tree I have Isabella (Duncan and Catherine’s daughter) as b. circa 1868, d . 1935. Catherine may have more precise dates.
      Alec McLean (NZ)

    2. Hi Again Jane

      Cathy Ring has relied to an email from me

      “Isabella was the second child of Donald and Catherine McLean, born 8th August 1867 at Orange Grove, Pyree. Died 14th May, 1935. From what Janet (Isabella’s sister) wrote, she was a very domineering character, an excellent dressmaker and also an artist. I will send a photo of a large painting I have that she did when having art lessons from a noted artist on the farm behind Orange Grove. The frame is most ornate and was made by AndraAmandusJohanson who was a Norwegian sea captain and husband of Euphemia McLean…..cousin of Orange Grove family. (In your line, I think).

      Isabella at one time had a hat shop in Orange and later a residential boarding house on The Esplanade at Manly.”

      Cathy has also sent me a great photo of Isabella, and of Catherine Finlayson.

      Can’t seem to attach the photos to this post. So maybe James can pass on your email address and I can send them to you.



        1. James would it be possible for you to email a copy of the above photos to me. Thanks

      1. Hi again Alec, I must be getting old as I forgot I had written to this fabulous site. Thanks once again for all your help.

  49. Hi James

    These are wonderful photos thank you for sharing them. I’m still searching for information on the marriage of Mary McLean to Christopher Brown. I now have so much detail on Mary but cannot find anything on how Christopher arrived in Australia. Can you check with your contacts if they would have any detail at all.

    Many thanks


  50. Hi James
    We are hoping to have a family reunion of the NZ branch of the McLeans (descendants of John Neil McLean). I have started drafting a history of that branch and my borrow a bit from your site. Hope that is OK – will give credits to you of course. Will just be published for circulating around our family.
    just for your interest, Beryl Longman, Matt McLean and I have all done DNA comparisons – seems NONE of us are related. Unless our DNA is so far watered down? Don’t understand DNA testing much yet. So that disproves a few of the links in your message board trail above. Same for us all as we have got quite close over the last few years.

    1. Hi Alec, really interesting to read about your experience with DNA testing. I’ve had a kit sitting on my desk at work for ages and ages, and keep thinking I must get around to sending it through. I WILL DO IT!!! And yes, of course, re borrowing bits from the site. I’m a strong believer that family history should be free, available for all, and definitely not behind paywalls.

  51. Hi James
    Came across this in the Moruya Historical Society site, talking about early shipping in the area. Shows that Allan continued his boatbuilding trade after settling in Moruya. Also good coverage of his son-in-law (married to Mary), Christopher Brown, also a boatbuilder. See bottom left of P.9, and rest of that page.'s_boating.pdf

    If you get your DNA done James, we will have to do a comparison.



  52. Afternoon James, Duncan Finlayson was the younger brother of Donald Finlayson – my great great grand-father who lived in Armidale NSW. Any chance you could send me copies of the photographs of Donald, Isabella and the McLean family?
    Thanks – this is fascinating information.
    Best regards, John

  53. By the way – it’s a small world. One of my G grandmother’s, a lass named Maggie Cameron and her family also came out on the Brilliant.

  54. Thank you for a fantastic site, my only connetion with the McLean name is one of my ancestors a John Gilmore married a Mary McLean daughter of John McLean who arriived in NSW on the Brilliant back in1837 and settled in The Manning River district in 1853 and farmed at Oxley Island. I have spent over 30 years resarching my family, the Gilmore clan from Ireland who arrived in NSW in 1838, William Gilmore married Mary McLean at McLean’s Ridge on the 14th September 1887.

  55. Evening James, Would you be able to email me copies of the pics of Duncan and Isabella Finlayson? Duncan was my great great grandfather’s younger brother. I have a fair bit of information on the Finlaysons – both here and in Scotland.
    Are they taken from a book of some kind?
    Thanks, and best regards, John

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