Donald McInnes and Peggy McGregor

Donald McInnes was born in about 1789 on Eilean Shona (The Isle of Shona), a tidal island located in Loch Moidart, Argyll in the Scottish Highlands. Donald was the son of John and Mary McInnes who were also from Moidart. Donald’s wife Margaret (Peggy) nee McGregor was born in 1798 in Moidart, the daughter of Donald and Mary (Marian) McGregor.

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

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

Donald and Peggy sailed on the George Fyfe, a four-hundred and sixty-ton barque, from Tobermory Mull on the 6th September 1839 and reached Sydney 131 days later. There were 178 migrants on board being 71 men, 60 women, 28 boys and 19 girls.The vessel carried 99 adults and 79 children, the voyage to Australia taking 131 days. Donald and Peggy arrived in Sydney on January 23, 1840. As assisted immigrants, subsidised by the government, the steerage conditions were not relevant to their travel but provide an interesting insight into conditions. 

With them came their nine children: John, aged 23, Angus, 21, Gregor, 19, Donald, 14, Charles 12, Mary 12, Ann 10, Hugh,7, and Peter 5. Donald’s occupation, according to the ship’s records, was shepherd as was that of his sons, John and Angus. Gregor’s occupation was a shoemaker.

Caledonian Mercury, Monday August 29th 1839


The new ship George Fyfe, lately built here, sailed yesterday to take in Government settlers at Tobermory, for Fort Philip and Sydney. The accommodation for the passengers is of a very superior kind. Beds to the amount of 104, each to contain two individuals have been fitted up, with an hospital for the sick. Each bed is numbered, and every article belonging to said birth bears a corresponding number, so that the greatest regularity and order will be preserved. The ship was built by Messrs Rose & Son, and the interior work has been done by Messrs Bruce & Son, both of Leith.

Also onboard the George Fyfe was James, Donald’s brother, and his wife Mary (nee McDonald or McIsaac). Mary and James do not appear to have had any children. Also onboard were Lachlan and Flora McInnes (nee McLean),  Donald’s brother and sister-in-law and their two children, Charles and Flora, both toddlers. They had three more sons after they arrived in Australia. Flora McInnes, Donald’s sister, was also onboard the George Fyfe. Flora married Patrick Considine, an Irish widower with two young boys. They went on to have a further two more sons and two daughters.

The “Commercial Journal”, 25th Jan 1840 says:
“From Torbermory, Scotland, on Thursday, having Left the 16th September, the
barque GEORGE FIFE, Captain Pike, with 178 Government Immigrants, under the
superintendence of Andrew Little, Esq. Passengers. – Mrs.
Liddle, Mr. Thompson, and Miss Williams.” “The George Fife, from
Torbermory, has brought 176 Scotch emigrants. They are a fine parcel of
Highlanders; and most of them are unable to speak a word or understand as
much of the English language.
There were no deaths on board during the voyage.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald McInnes Sr. died at Middle Arm on 1st March 1857 and Margaret died 18th May 1868. Both are buried at North Goulburn Cemetery, where their headstones can be seen.

The children of Donald and Peggy McInnes:

John married Jeanette McDonnell. They had no children.

Angus married Annabella Nicholson and had sixteen children. One of their grandsons was killed in World War 1 at Gallipoli. 

Gregor married Anne Gibson and they had seven children. Two of their grandsons were killed in World War 1, one on the Gallipoli Peninsula and the other on the Western Front in France. 

Donald married Phoebe Emily Gibson, the sister of Anne Gibson.

They had ten children and their oldest daughter, Margaret Mary, married Robert Andrew Hore. Their youngest daughter was Jessie Matilda Hore who married Harold Charles Falk.


Margaret Mary McInnes (Hore) left;

Phoebe Emily Gibson (McInnes) right.




Mary married Alexander McDonald and they had six children.

Charles did not marry.

Ann married William Warriner, a convict carpenter sentenced to 7 years transportation. They had eleven children, nine of whom reached adulthood.

Hugh (Ewan) had no children.

Peter married Annie MacDonnell and had one child.


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