Archive for the ‘James McLean (c1840-1916)’ Category

I’m going to focus on breaking through the James Beatty of Fermanagh brick wall now. Just because it’s difficult is no excuse not to try. For those of you interested in the Forsters/McLeans though, I did find one more document which casts a little more light on the McLean family, particularly James McLean, in 1858. It’s now incorporated in the McLean family story .

A question for other family historians: How much circumstantial evidence do you need before you conclude that two people are related? Yes, I know. It isn’t proof. It’s certain that James Beatty the Draper, who is first documented in Ballina, Co. Mayo in 1862 and who brought his young family to Melbourne in 1878, was born Co. Fermanagh in 1842. All we know of his parents is that his father, also James Beatty, was a farmer. At about the same times as James, an Archibald Beatty, Merchant, 7 years older than James, also appeared in Ballina. He is first documented there in July 1861. It is certain that he had formerly been a Merchant in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, but his father, also a James Beatty, was also a farmer. Could this be just a coincidence?  Beatty was not nearly such a common name in Mayo as it was in Fermanagh. Yesterday I found a document showing that Archibald and James Beatty both joined the Freemasons in Ballina on the same day, 16 Dec 1867. Only 2 others joined the same day. What’s the probability that James and Archibald Beatty are brothers? James the Draper named his second son (my Grandfather) Archibald.

The main thing that came out of the DNA testing was finding a fellow researcher whose family are genetically very closely related to ours and who has a detailed family tree of Beattys in Fermanagh, including Archibalds and a James. Thanks Pete! I’m going to work on the area around Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, and follow the names James and Archibald, and hope to work out which Farmer James Beatty is our ancestor!



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Family history research can be so rewarding – not to mention addictive. Also, progress is so much faster when we collaborate! Thanks everybody and, as usual, you all know who you are! 🙂 The James McLean described in the previous post who was a Saddler in Bathurst is INDEED the same James who arrived on the Sarah Botsford in 1842 with Edward and Mary Jane McLean (nee Gordon) as a baby.

I’m deeply grateful to descendants of his who have provided more information. Apparently the family weren’t aware of the newspaper reports (see previous post), but did know that their ancestor James MacLean (or McLean), had arrived on the Sarah Botsford as a toddler. They also knew that the Sarah Botsford had sailed from Glasgow, so had naturally assumed (given their Scottish name) that James was Scottish. The information in those news reports must have been provided by family members, or friends of James though, so he is clearly from the north of Ireland. Also I read through the whole list of people on the Sarah Botsford and can only find one James McLean or any name like it. We still don’t know for sure that James wasn’t born in Glasgow. As Bruce suggested it’s possible that the McLeans could have been there for some time arranging their passage to Australia. Possibly James’ son who provided the death certificate information and was closer to events was right about this. I think it most likely that James was born in Ireland before they left though. Margaret Long had “travelled with him [Edward] from home” entrusted to his care by her family – probably the arrangements to emigrate had already been made.

On the down side, unfortunately Geoff, the Eliza McLean who died in Penrith in 1922 isn’t ours either! She was born about 1842 and married to Donald Hugh McLean. I don’t know what else to try apart from sending for more certificates! Does anybody have any suggestions?

Our McLean ancestors are starting to seem less shadowy and more interesting though, so I’ll write a chapter of “The story” about them next.

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Many thanks both Geoff and Bruce for your tips about the McLeans. Surely together we’ll even pin down Eliza Boak or Bolk eventually! Meanwhile I’m doing some more circling around her by finding out all I can about her eldest step-son James McLean.

Our James McLean was certainly the son of Edward McLean and Mary Jane Gordon. He arrived from Ireland on the Sarah Botsford with his parents Feb 15th 1842 aged one year. Was he the James McLean of Penrith who married Mary Ann Willcock (or Wilcox) 9 Feb 1867, then moved to Bathurst where he was a Saddler, father of four surviving children and died in 1916? I think so, although a few things make it very difficult to tell for sure.

Death of James MacLean, Saddler of Bathurst, New South Wales aged 76, 3 Jan 1916

Death of James MacLean, Saddler of Bathurst, New South Wales aged 76, 3 Jan 1916

Firstly, this death certificate is for James MacLean, not James McLean. I think we can ignore that though, as all of the children listed here were born McLeans according to the BDM records, including the informant, Hector E. L. MacLean. His father is Edward, though Hector didn’t know the name of his own grandmother – sadly not that unusual. He was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery at Bathurst, and we know that our McLeans were Presbyterians. He was married in Penrith aged 27 years to Mary Ann Wilcox. Their 1867 marriage certificate spells her surname Willcock, but she signs her name there with an X, so probably wasn’t too fussed about the spelling. He arrived in New South Wales aged 2, whereas our James McLean was only 1 year old upon arrival. The biggest problem is that the death certificate says he was born in Glasgow! On the other hand this news article says he’s from the north of Ireland. [Thanks Geoff for finding this!]

Death of James MacLean, Saddler, of Bathurst, Jan 1916

Death of James MacLean, Saddler, of Bathurst, From National Advocate, Bathurst 4 Jan 1916 via TROVE

It’s certainly the same James MacLean as in the death certificate. As well as him being a Saddler of Bathurst, the news report comes just the day after the actual death and there are the same sons and daughters. Can we assume that the informant for the news item just had different place of birth information to the son who registered the death? If so, 2 years old on arrival is very close to our James who arrived aged 1, and we know that both the parents of our James were from the north of Ireland.  In 1853 when James’ father died the family were in Balmain. In 1869 when next heard of, James’ elder sister Margaret, his step-mother Eliza and half-sister Jane were living at Regentville House, Penrith. It seems likely that James would be near his family before his marriage in Penrith in 1867. Maybe it’s also worth noting that Margaret Sheils, James older sister, moved to Bathurst in 1873 after the apparent loss of her husband.

Another James McLean was a suicide at Bondi in 1896. He’d have been the right age, but wrote a highly literate farewell note and was a Tutor! I don’t think our relation, whose mother was illiterate, would have been so erudite. What a relief. I think ours is almost certainly the Saddler, and have put him in my family tree!. What do you think?

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