The following extract from the "Reminiscences of the Port and Town of Leith" by John Martine (1888) is taken from the History of Leith Website:
"The Australian Company was a public joint-stock company formed in 1824. Many of the principal merchants in Leith and Edinburgh had shares in it. It traded chiefly with Sydney carrying passengers and goods and exported merchandise of all kinds on its own account and brought home produce to London. They had four ships of large tonnage- The Triton (Capt Crerar), The Greenock (Captain Miller), The Portland (Captain Moodie), and the City of Edinburgh (Captain McKellar), sold in London in 1838. The Office was on the North Side of the Upper Drawbridge. Mr Robert Brown was the Manager for many years. Being accounted a very shrewd man of business he was called the "Horse of Knowledge". The Company is understood to have been prosperous for a number of years but on account of losses and depreciation of stock had to be wound up and the ships sold."
From the book titled Scotland Emigration to Australia 1815 - 1832 by David S MacMillan, cited on the Electric Scotland Website, we read:
"At least three of the captains in the service of the Australian Company of Edinburgh and Leith settled in Australia before 1830. Captains Duncan McKellar and Christopher Moodie went out to New South Wales and took up land grants in the late 1820s."
It seems that he was involved in a court case in New South Wales in 1829. From Australasian Legal Information Institute website we read:
"Captain McKellar - I am a Scotchman and a shipmaster; I am now a citizen, having left my ship, and I intend to reside here; I have arrived within the last month. I consider the paragraph, now shewn, calculated to bring the Governor into contempt. I have not read the whole paper; the paragraph may be qualified for aught I know. My attention was directed to it on Saturday, so that my opinion might be matured. I have been here four times. I have seen worse matter in English papers, and in this Colony, than the present libel! I have seen articles much worse in this Colony."
"By Mr Wentworth. - Perhaps, Capt. McKellar, you know more about ropes and blocks than you do about English grammar? I don't know; I have given up ropes and blocks now; I am tired of them. Perhaps it is a right in Editors of newspapers to point out the errors of Government. As to other papers writing libellous matter, if one does wrong there's no occasion for another to do so too."
I have not had the patience to read the whole case and exactly how Duncan Mackellar was involved, but I found the above rather amusing!
Charlotte Broun, a lady in Australia who is descended from the Brouns of Colstoun, found some information about Duncan Mackellar recently and passed the following copy of a letter on to me
"Australian Company's Office
"Leith 4th March 1823
"I have your letter of the 2nd. Any room we have for cattle in the first ship is engaged, but we shall have another to sail in June, when we may be able to accommodate you.
"Your most obedient servant
"Robert Brown Junior"
Charlotte Broun writes:
"I do not know who the letter was addressed to. It is held in the papers of the Colonial Secretary. It is written in a very clear and well rounded hand."
"In consequence of the [text illegible] petty officers of His Majesty's ship Hindustan having received a proportion of spirits, we respectfully beg leave through your means, to solicit his excellency for the same indulgence, in which case we have taken the liberty to [text illegible] a permit, which we hope will meet your approbation.
"We are sir
"Your obedient servants
Charlotte Broun writes:
"There are about 6 signatures of which Duncan McKellar is the 5th. This handwriting is not as neat or clear."
My name is Alasdair Broun and I was born and brought up in Scotland, son of a clergyman and a freelance journalist. I took up genealogy as a hobby when I was 17 and I went on to write a PhD thesis in philosophical psychology ... more >
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