My mother’s family seemed to have assumed that my Great Grandfather, Robert Murray Stewart Cairns, came from no where in particular in Scotland and that he grew up in Parramatta in the then Colony of New South Wales (NSW). This ambiguity was reinforced by the date and place of birth, and parents being omitted from his marriage certificate.
I recently obtained a copy of his first child’s birth certificate and here was listed his place of birth, Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland. Armed with this new information I reviewed the available evidence on Scotland’s People and NSW Birth, Deaths and Marriage records and worked through a couple of scenarios. It turns out that Robert Cairns came to Australia with his parents (Alexander and Jessie (nee Stewart)) and two siblings (Eliza Jane and John) on the ‘Hereford’, arriving Sydney 9 Dec 1879. The family settled in a Shale Oil Project town of Joadja Creek in the southern highlands of NSW. Alexander and Jessie had a further two children at Joadja Creek (William Alexander Murray and Florence Jessie). Further research revealed that the postmaster at Joadja Creek was a William Cairns. It is not clear to me whether William Cairns is unrelated or if he is Alexander’s brother who according to the 1851 Scotland census was a bank accountant.
Along with the opportunities and rewards of Joadja Creek, the family had its losses. Between 1879 and 1892 Eliza Jane, John and Jessie died. They are buried at Joadja Creek, http://www.hawkesbury.net.au/cemetery/southern_highlands/joadja/joac002.htmlhttp://www.hawkesbury.net.au/cemetery/southern_highlands/joadja/joac002.html. The remaining members of Alexander’s family moved to Parramatta. Alexander remarried and all three surviving children married.
I have summarised below the family as best I know. I would value advice on the Australian descendants (NSW and Queensland Birth, Deaths and Marriage records can only take me so far), the Scottish ancestors of Alexander Cairns and Jessie Stewart and descendants their siblings, especially William Cairns who might have been the Joadja Creek postmaster.
1. Alexander Cairns (1845-1912) 1.m1. 27 Jan 1865 Jessie Stewart (1844 -1892) 1.1. Eliza Jane Cairns (1866-1880) no issue 1.2. Robert Murray Stewart Cairns (1868-1952) 1.2.m. 5 Aug 1891 Amy Caroline Gazzard (1872-1952) 1.2.1. Jessie Elsie Cairns (1892-1971) 1.2.2.m. 1919 Leonard Bird (1890-1954) 1.2.2. Stewart Alexander Cairns (1894-unknown) 1.2.2.m. 1927 Rose Lenehan Rawlings (1899-unknown) 188.8.131.52. Francis Anthony Cairns (1930-unknown) 1.2.3. Harold Arthur Cairns (1896-1960) 1.2.3.m. 1924 Wilhelmina Petrie (1896-1970) 1.2.4. William Albert Cairns (1901-1962) 1.2.4.m. 1928 Elizabeth Adis Simpson (1905-unknown) 1.2.5. Robert Lionel Cairns (1903-1960) 1.2.5.m. 1909 Eliza Jane Moodie (1909-unknown) 1.2.6. Dorothy Ami Cairns (1906-1906) no issue 1.3. John Cairns (1870-1879) no issue 1.4. William Alexander Murray Cairns (1879-1932) 1.4.m. 1899 Alice F. M. N. Thomson (unknown-unknown) 1.4.1. Alison Phyllis Cairns (unknown-unknown) 1.4.1.m 1936 Norman Jeffery Tritton (unknown-unknown) 1.5. Florence Jessie Cairns (1880-1944) 1.5.m. 1914 Norman Sydney Howarth (1890-1952) 1.m2. Julia Fleetwood (1848-1913) no issue