Members Family History's


Family Names - Mrs Carole Trevillian (1054)

William James BRENNAN emigrated to Melbourne with his friend, Ernest HICKS, arriving 1910. They came from Middlesbrough, Yorkshire (now Cleveland). William James BRENNAN was the son of Henry BRENNAN and Alice TAYLOR. William married Adelaide Hope McKAY after WWl in 1920. They only had one child, he is named William James BRENNAN after his father. Unfortunately, William snr. was a victim of mustard gas inhalation while serving in France with the AIF. The gas eventually led to his death at Caulfield Repatriation Hospital in 1945. He is reputed to have had cousins also emigrate to Australia, possibly Perth.

My grandmother, Adelaide Hope BRENNAN (nee McKAY) and her sisters were rather snobbish, being interested in how much land and money people had, as well as their position in society, so it came as a surprise to me to discover that the family was descended from numerous convicts (WARBY, BRIEN, PARKER and others). But that is another story.

McKAY/SPROUL. James McKAY b.? 1826 and reputed to be from the Isle of Skye married Martha SPROUL (ARNETT) at Woodside, Gippsiand, Victoria in 1850. James was a stonemason/builder, and he apparently tried his luck at goldmining before returning to building in northern Victoria and possibly NSW around Goulburn and Young. His widow died at the home of one of her daughters in Kempsey in 1913, but where and when did James McKAY die? Also when did he arrive in the colonies, was it to Sydney, Melbourne or Tasmania, like his wife?

SPROUL/ ARNETT / McKAY. Martha SPROUL was born on board the "Cabotia" enroute from Liverpool to VDL in 1833-4. Her parents, Thomas SPROUL, Phoebe SPROUL (nee HOLMES) and her sister Ann (d.1 836) were emigrating to the colony to start a new life. After her fathers' death in 1842, Martha along with her siblings Ann (b.1837) and Eliza (b.1839) were admitted in 1843 to the Queen's Orphanage in Hobart . Their mother, Phoebe, remarried in 1847. Her second husband was a Ticket of Leave convict and widower, Edwin Simon ARNETT. The Sproul children were discharged from the Orphanage soon after, although Martha had left the establishment two years beforehand, possibly to go "into service'. Martha came to Gippsland, Victoria where she married James McKAY while 16 or 17 years old. Other SPROUL and ARNETT children also came to the mainland, although some ARNETTs remained in Tasmania around Hobart or Bothwell, ARNETTs settled around the Moruya, Braidwood area, This is why Phoebe ARNNETT (SPROUL) was buried at Taralga in l880. Her husband, Edwin Simon ARNETT died a few months later at Bothwell Tas., where he was buried near his first wife.

McCLELLAND / BLAIR/ PURNELL / HOOK. The McCLELLANDs, James and Margaret (nee SMYTH), from Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, set sail to Australia as assisted migrants on board the "Argyle". It appears that James died enroute. Margaret arrived in Port Phillip District on April 12 1841 six months pregnant and without her husband. James and Margarets' baby was born three months later, July 25, 1841 in Melbourne . He was also named James. Another immigrant on board the "Argyle" was Matilda McCLELLAND , who was possibly a sister or cousin to James McCLELLAND snr, Margaret McCLELLAND was initially unlucky in marriage, marrying Robert HUDSON in 1843 and having a son, Charles to him the following year. Robert HUDSON died the next year, making Margaret a widow for the second time at the age of 23 years. She married again for the third and final time at the age of 25 years in 1847 to Thomas PURNELL. They had nine children together. This time, her spouse Thomas PURNELL out lived Margaret, who died in 1875. Young James McCLELLAND, in the meantime, grew up in the inner Melbourne area; his stepfather, Thomas PURNELL, was a victualler and licensee of two hotels, both named "Plough Inn"; one in Bourke St. and the other in Little Bourke Sts. Young James McCLELLAND married eighteen year old Matilda BLAIR in 1864 in Melbourne . Matilda BLAIR, her siblings and parents, John and Ann BLAIR (n.McCLELLAND), had arrived in the colony in 1850 as assisted migrants on board the "Aurora", . The BLAIRs were also from Cookstown, Co, Tyrone. I suspect that James McCLELLAND snr. and Ann BLAIR were either brother and sister or cousins, making the newlyweds cousins.

James McCLELLAND jnr.worked as a patternmaker in a foundry 9 at the time of his marriage, but later went to sea on colonial ships "BlackBird" and Otway" as second engineer for a total of nine months. James and Matilda had nine children , all were born at Fitzroy/Collingwood , except for the last child who was born at Wandin Yallock South. This is where the family was living at the time of James' death in 1885. He was only forty four years old, and it is noted on his death certificate that he had again become a pattern-maker. He is buried at Lilydale Cemetery. His wife Matilda continued to raise her young family, and died at Port Melbourne forty years later in l926, Matilda probably lived at Port Melbourne with one of her children. My great aunt, Win Thompson, remembers her as being "delicate, like a piece of porcelain".

James and Matilda McCLELLAND's second child, Margaret Ann, is my great grandmother. She and George HOOK married at his parent's house in Fitzroy North only a few weeks after Margaret Ann's father died in 1885, George HOOK was a school teacher at Wandin Yallock Primary School near the McCLELLANDSs. However, the HOOK and McCLELLAND families may have known each other earlier when they were both residing at Fitzroy/Collingwood. George HOOK and Margaret moved back to that area shortly after their marriage, with George maintaining an interest in teaching only in a supportive capacity but not in the day to day of classroom teaching. He helped his father, whose name was also George HOOK, in the family carrying business, the running of which he took over on his fathers' death in 1907.


Vaulx Hill cemetery, France is the final resting place of my great uncle, Walter Lesley HOOK. He was a soldier in the lst. A.I.F and was killed on May 10, 1917 while officially off-duty, although he was still near the fighting along the Western Front. At his side was George EARL, from Chewton, Vic. They had enlisted into the army on the same day, and were in the same battallion, the 5th. Pioneers. The bomb which killed Leslie HOOK also injured George EARL.

George was repatriated to England to recover from his injuries before returning to the front line battles of France and Belgium. He began corresponding with the family of his deceased friend, and formed a distant attachment to the older sister, Margaret Lilian HOOK, in Melbourne. After demobbing and returning to Melbourne, George EARL and Margaret HOOK courted. They married in 1920, became farmers at Savernake and Berrigan, NSW, and had seven children to the union. My grandparents lived to old age together after retiring to Chewton, Vic. and are buried at Campbells Creek cemetery. Their life together was thanks in part, to a soldier, Walter Leslie HOOK. He is one of many young men buried in war graves at Vaulx Hill, France.


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