Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lunch Time Discoveries in the Rocks - McGregor Family Bible

McGregor and Kinnear Family Bibles
As mentioned in my recent blog, Matrilineal Monday - The Ladies of the McGregor Family
I recently received a copy of a family photo of James and Margaret McGregor with a large group of their children, their  partners and grandchildren.  Even more exciting,  each member of the family was identified by name. 

For the last two weeks I have been digging out all my notes, old letters, pouring over old maps, researching in TROVE and other on-line sources, so that I can put together the stories of James and Margaret McGregor’s daughters (who are all depicted in this photo) as my next project on “The other half of my family tree - stories of my female ancestors”.  This has taken me longer than I thought, as I have been discovering new leads and  getting side tracked on interesting family stories.

Over the weekend, I experienced one of those family tree serendipitous moments. A message popped up on my ancestry site, “Are you a direct relative of James McGregor and Margaret McPherson?  If so can you please contact me”.  Puzzled, I sent back a quick response advising that they were my great great grandparents.

Imagine my surprise, when she advised me that she was a volunteer for the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) and that she had been trying to find someone connected with James and Margaret as  the Society had a their family bible and wanted to pass it on to a direct descendant.  I was a little gobsmacked!!  Especially by the timing, and the relatedness's to my recent research into the McGregor Family. 

It was with great excitement I ventured out in my lunch hour today, down to the headquarters of the SAG, which is situated in the beautiful historical area of “The Rocks”, near the Sydney Observatory.  I was greeted at the door by one of the volunteers, (who I think was just as excited as I was, at having found a family for the Bible).

We went into what must have been a very ostentatious lounge/parlour room of the beautiful Richmond Villa which had huge bay windows that looked out over Sydney Harbour.  When I inquired as to who the house belonged to I was advised that it had been a private home of architect Mortimer Lewis and the SAG was lucky enough to be given the use of the premises by the State Heritage Council.

We sat down at a small table and the bible was pulled out, very  old, with a brown paper wrapper as its
binding was long gone. This small ragged bible must have so many stories to tell!! Inside the bible there is a page that lists family births, deaths and marriages, all written in different handwriting depicting the different ownership of the book as it was handed down through the family.

 Then!! when I looked through the pages, tucked in between the pages amongst some small dried pressed flowers was a small letter, written by James McGregor, to his daughter Jessie Kinnear (nee McGregor).  He had written this note to her when he passed the Bible on to her for safe keeping. 

However, the discoveries were not over.  The kindly SAG volunteer said, "after looking this I think we may have some other documents that are linked to this Bible".  So we headed downstairs to the storage area.  On the shelves were stacks of family bibles, of all different sizes and in all different states of repair.  Amongst these Bibles we found the two bibles that the SAG volunteer was referring to and yes!! they were also connected to the McGregor family, in particular to James and Margaret McGregor's youngest daughter Jessie Kinnear.

These wonderful discoveries prompted me to join the SAG, as it seems there are some more files, letters etc related to the McGregor Family in their library.  About an hour after my arrival, I struggled out with three family bibles that are at least 170 years old. As I hailed a taxi to help me get back to work, I pondered, what stories will these books reveal!.  


  1. Diane,

    That is an amazing story, you are truly blessed. I am pleased that SAG (I am a member) is reuniting these precious items with descendants.

    You must be over the moon.

    Cheers, JIll

  2. Wow, what a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it!

  4. What treasures and how wonderful that you were the chosen one to be the keeper of these Bibles... I believe things like these end up with those who care the most.. I look forward to reading what else will be revealed from them. Thanks to Jill Ball for highlighting/sharing your post...

  5. I know exactly how you feel. In the Society's 'Primary Records' collection, I found notes dictated by Sarah HAZLEWOOD nee WEBSTER (sister of my great-great-grandfather Thomas WEBSTER) around 1900. Without her information about names, dates and places in the UK, I would never have traced my line back further because WEBSTER in London is just too common.

  6. thank you all for your kind comments. I have been spending this evening checking dates, against my tree. Already have found that the McGregor family moved from Araluen to the Shoalhaven River, before they moved to Sydney. It is going to be fun filling in the gaps.

  7. WOW!!! How wonderful and how very exciting... Congratulations!!!

  8. what a great find, I must rejoin the SAG.

  9. Yes, I am hoping that I can fit in another visit before Christmas.