John and Elspeth (née Bruce) McPherson

On 31 May 1838, at the age of 29, John, a labourer, married Elspeth Bruce, otherwise known as "Eppy" at the parish church of Duthil, 10 miles from Aviemore in Inverness-shire, Scotland. John was the third child of five children born to John and Margaret (née Kennedy) McPherson of Dalraddy, Inverness.

Elspeth, a year older at 30, was the daughter of Donald and Jane (née Ross) Bruce, farmers at Bard'N'Doon Raid, parish of Cromdale, now Morayshire, Scotland.

Because the clan system disintegrated after the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746 many hardships were experienced by the highland people—famine, blight, and much more. Like many highlanders, John and Elspeth McPherson left Scotland with their children in search of a more satisfactory lifestyle. Some Scots emigrated to Canada and some to Australia.

Aided by the Earl of Seafield for whom the McPhersons worked, and the Highland Immigration Society, the family left Aviemore for Liverpool where they boarded the William Myles, a clipper of 1200 tons and skippered by William Thompson. The McPhersons, according to official records (QSA Ref ID 13086, pp51-53), were classified as assisted immigrants and sailed out of the river Mersey on 15 October 1854, arriving in Moreton Bay on 16 January 1855, after 88 days at sea.

The family, including twins John and Margaret, landed in Brisbane Town. Soon after arrival, they journeyed by bullock dray and on horseback to Cressbrook Station, a property owned by David McConnel, ninety miles north-west of Brisbane. John was employed there as a ploughman and the older sons were responsible for 1500 head of shorthorn cattle. Sons, Donald and James, became skilled horsemen; Jane and Christina were involved in domestic duties and the younger members of the family probably attended a private school for employees' children on the property.

The McPhersons left Cressbrook in 1858, settling for a time in Brisbane where James became apprenticed to a building contractor and also became involved in politics. Donald, the eldest son, stayed on at Cressbrook.

Towards the end of 1862, with the exception of Donald and James, the family settled at Bracken Ridge, just north of Brisbane. John had purchased 93 acres of land, which he named Springfield, for £93.15s.0d. ($187.50) and there they worked the land producing maize and potatoes. The land was described as Portion 95, parish of Nundah and was bounded by modern day Denham Street and Barrett Street. Today, McPherson Park which adjoins the Bracken Ridge State School at the Barrett Street end of Denham Street pays silent tribute to the McPherson family who pioneered the area so many years ago.

Elspeth died of pneumonia on 23 May 1881, aged 73. John died of senile decay at Springfield, Bracken Ridge on 2 August 1886, aged 77. Both are buried at the Bald Hills cemetery with several other members of the family.

The property then passed to their son, Russell, aged 40, who continued to farm the land with his wife, Annie and their children.

 Bald Hills Cemetery


(Gregory) John and Jane Bruce (née McPherson) Grant

On 24 February 1859, Jane, a week before her 21st birthday, married (Gregory) John Grant, aged 25, a stonemason, in the Ipswich Presbyterian church.

John, born to Grigor and Ann (née Ross) Grant on 20 January 1834 in Grantown, Inverness, emigrated from Scotland with the McPhersons and arrived in the colony of Queensland just a few days ahead of his 21st birthday.

John learnt his trade before leaving Scotland, and after his marriage to Jane, he built a home at 10 Fosbery Street, Windsor with materials obtained from a quarry in Albion, an adjoining Brisbane suburb. The couple named their home Craigellachie, meaning "The Grant Clan War Cry". The home still stands today just a few doors from the Windsor Fire Station. Its heritage value has been recognised by the National Trust of Queensland and details of the building's existence have been registered by the Trust and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.

Children born to the marriage included Elspeth (1860); Alexander (1862-1864); Gregory (1863-1874); Ann (1865-1891); Alexander (1868); Christina (1871-1957), Felix Calvin (1873-1902); William Gregory (1876-1951) and Russell Walker (1878-1916).

Donald Bruce and Isabella Matthieson (née Smith) McPherson

Donald Bruce McPherson, a stockman, married Isabella Matthieson Smith in 1864 at Cressbrook Station at which property the McPherson family first settled after arriving from Scotland nine years earlier. Isabella came from Pitsligo in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Children born to Donald and Isabella included Donald Smith who was born at Cressbrook in 1865; Jessie Bruce (1867); James Clunie (1870); Isabella Smith (1872); John Russell (1874-1950) George Clubb (1876); David Walker (1878); Mary Elizabeth (1881) and Elspeth Bruce (1886).

Donald Bruce later moved from Cressbrook and became a grazier at Mount Beppo near Esk before venturing to north Queensland where he died in Cooktown District hospital on 13 October 1900 from malarial fever and dysentery. At the time of his death, Donald (Snr) was aged 61 years. His death certificate lists his occupation as miner and he was buried at the Cooktown cemetery.

John Sutherland and Christina Ann (née McPherson) Storrie

A Brisbane wedding on 19 January 1864 brought together John Sutherland Storrie and Christina Ann McPherson, also known as "Teenie". John, the son of Robert Storrie, a Scottish baker, was born on 25 December 1831 at Stobo, Peebles in Scotland. Christina Ann was the third child of John and Elspeth (née Bruce) McPherson of Inverness-shire, Scotland. John, nine years his wife's senior arrived in the colony of Queensland around 1864. In the absence of any official documentation to support any other theory, it is presumed that John arrived as a free settler and that he arrived as a non-assisted immigrant.

Some time after their marriage, John and Christina moved to Rawbelle, a station property situated 80 miles from Gayndah on the head of the Burnett River in Queensland. Records suggest that several of their children were born at Rawbelle. Proof exists that their son, John, who was born in 1868, was buried at Rawbelle Station the following year. The property was first occupied in 1848 by its discoverers, Messrs Trevethan and Steel, who were later murdered there by local aborigines. Subsequent owners have included Mort & Berry, McLean & Burt, the Queensland Sheep Investment Co. and Mr McBean.

John and Christina raised a family of 13 children: Elspeth (1864); Elizabeth (1866-1902); Margaret (1867-1936); John (1868-1869); James William (1869-1950); John (1871-1877); Christina Ann (1873); George (1874); Robert (1876); John Sutherland (1877); Isabella (1879-1956); William (1881-1937) and Jessie Jane who was born in 1882.

It was Isabella who, through her marriage to John William Hanran, provides the link between the McPherson ancestors and the Hanran, Lucey and Thurlow families. Isabella was only a tot when her parents selected land in Gooburrum on the north side of the Burnett River at Bundaberg on 19 January 1875.

Gooburrum was pioneered as a settlement in 1848. Land in the area was initially put to grazing purposes. The year 1870 marked a transition to timber getting, maize and arrowroot growing, dairying, and the cultivation of sugar cane. Gooburrum was linked to Bundaberg by a ferry service over the river Burnett in 1873 and no doubt the introduction of the ferry service was the catalyst for change which resulted in benefits to the residents of Gooburrum. Later, in 1891, the river was bridged first to rail traffic and then to pedestrians, horses and carts etc in 1900.

Portion 27, parish of Gooburrum which the family named Roselyn (Roselynn, or Rosslyn) was used principally for the growing of maize. The land is situated on the eastern side of what is known today as the Moore Park Road and is not far from the Meadowvale railway siding. Thirty acres were set aside for agricultural use and 100 acres for pastoral. By 3 August 1880, improvements to the land included a four-room cottage, a barn, a 30 foot well, a piggery, a fowl house, a milking yard, 45 chains of 2-rail fencing and a ½ acre of gardens. Sixteen acres of scrub had by that time been cleared and fenced. Additional improvements were recorded in later official records as comprising 62 chains of 1-rail barb wire fencing, 88 chains of 2-rail fencing, eight acres of scrub cleared and planted with sugar cane valued at £5 ($10) per acre. Cane from Portion 27, parish of Gooburrum was consigned to the Fairymead Sugar Mill.

The adjoining parcels of land described as Portion 23, parish of Otoo, comprising 139 acres 2 roods 32 perches, were selected on 1 January 1879 for timber getting and also Portion 1069, parish of Otoo on 8 June 1882.

John Sutherland Storrie was a driving force behind the establishment of a local school and served on a committee formed in 1881 to raise funds. By October 1882, the committee had raised their share of £742 which was matched by funds provided by the Department of Public Instruction. Tenders were called and Nilsen and Nielson were the successful tenderers engaged to build the head master's residence and first school which opened in March 1884.

John was also one of the founding members of the Gooburrum Farmers' and Canegrowers' Association when it was formed on 12 March 1897.

Christina died on 27 November 1903. Causes of death, according to her death certificate, were due to melancholia, chronic dyspepsia and cardiac failure. Christina died intestate and her husband, John, petitioned to administer her estate. Christina held in her own right resubdivision 2 of Portion 27, the principal property known as Roselynn, since its transfer to her in 1883, and at the time of her demise, it was valued at £526.16s.0d. and carried a maize crop valued at £8.0s.0d. As of 15 June 1904, title over this parcel of land reverted to John who continued to hold it, together with Portions 23 and 1069, Otoo, until his death four years later.

John died on 16 January 1907 and was buried at Bundaberg general cemetery the following day. Letters of Administration have disclosed that John's personal assets were valued at £237.10s.0d. ($475) and real property at £749 ($1498).

At the inquest into the death of John Sutherland Storrie on 1 February 1907, it was disclosed that John's cause of death was due to "perforation of the bowel and peritonitis" which were suspected to have resulted "from a fall or injury ... most likely caused ... while under the influence of liquor". Evidence tendered at the inquest stated that John "had been drinking since Christmas [1906]", had complained "of great stomach pains ... ", and "was vomiting heavily". He was described as "not a robust, strong man—he was thin and spare". John's watch had been found in front of the butcher's shop by his son, John Sutherland (Jnr) and it was concluded that the father could have fallen there and this resulted in his eventual death.

John Sutherland Storrie (Jnr) inherited the land after his father's death and continued to farm it until 1912 when a new title over Portion 27, Gooburrum was issued to Hans Truvl Christsen, a Bundaberg grocer and importer. Later in 1913, the holding was purchased by James Royan and William Sinclair.

The combined parcels of land are now divided into thirteen separate holdings, nine of which are used, or can be used, solely for residential purposes (1992).

James Alpin and Elizabeth Ann (née Horszfeldt) McPherson

Around 1858, James was apprenticed to a building contractor and became very interested in politics in Brisbane. In 1863, he left his apprenticeship to go to north Queensland in the company of newly formed alliances. James worked on various outback properties, shearing sheep and breaking in horses. He was accused of mutilating sheep he sheared and was refused payment of wages due to him. He is alleged to have held his employer at gunpoint and demanded his wages—this being the beginning of his bushranging days in Queensland.

McPherson's first foray into the "stick-up" business was early in 1865 at the Cadrington hotel at the crossing of the Haughton River, south of Townsville. In June of that year, while being escorted by ship from Bowen to Rockhampton for trial, he escaped from police custody at Port Mackay. For months afterwards, McPherson preyed on the mail routes linking Maryborough, Bundaberg and Gayndah. James was eventually caught in March the following year and brought to justice at the Maryborough court where he faced two counts of robbery under arms. The jury was quick to reach a verdict of guilty whereupon Chief Justice Cockle sentenced the prisoner to 25 years imprisonment. Due to his father's efforts, and with the assistance of good friends, James was released after serving eight years of his sentence at St Helena1, the penal settlement at the mouth of the Brisbane River.

After release from prison, McPherson became head stockman for Henry Somerset on Mount Marlow Station on the lower Barcoo. On 21 December 1878, James married Elizabeth in Blackall, Queensland and moved further north. Elizabeth, born in Rockhampton in March 1861, was the daughter of George and Ann (née Garrett) Horszfeldt. James and Elizabeth's children were Elspeth (born Hughenden, 1880); James Ossian (Cambridge Downs, 1882); George Henry (Hughenden, 1884); John Robert (Hughenden 1886); Thomas Donald (1887); Flora Jane (1889) and Bruce Clement (1891).

James Alpin, alias the Wild Scotchman, died on 23 July 1895, as a result of a horse riding accident, just one month before his 54th birthday. He is buried in Burketown cemetery, north Queensland. Before his death, James was engaged in stone cutting and conducted quite a prosperous carrying business.

A variety of anecdotes, stories and press articles covering the life and times of James Alpin McPherson has been written over the years and interested readers are urged to locate such works in the pursuit of furthering their knowledge of Queensland's only bushranger.


(1) Evidence suggests that James had acquired a knowledge of French, German, Italian, Spanish and Hebrew either before or during his stay in prison. He was a native speaker of Gaelic and coupled with his familiarity of these languages, the discovery of James’ poems written in Latin while incarcerated at St Helena should come as no real surprise. (Milns, R.D., Bushranger, Scholar and Poet: James McPherson, 1841-1895 in Ancient History in a Modern University, Vol 1, eds Hillard, Kearsley et al, 1998 Macquarie University)

William and John McPherson

Nothing of significance is known of William, who was born on 10 March 1843, or John, a twin brother of Margaret, who was born on 27 April 1845. John was considered to be mentally disabled and worked on the family farm, Springfield.

Margaret Kennedy (née McPherson) and 

Augustus Marrett Euste Angel (1), and John Charles Hamilton Stanley (2))

Margaret and "Gus", a Welshman from Merthyr, Tydfil, Glamorgan were married in Queensland on 8 September 1872. Their children included Augustus James ("Jim") born on 2 July 1873; Edmund ("Edward") John (1 March 1875); Margaret Diana (31 July 1877) and baby Hugh Donald (23 May 1879) whose life was cut short after surviving a mere twelve days. Tragedy struck again the following year when "Gus" died on 26 January 1880 leaving Margaret to care for the three surviving offspring ranging in age from three to seven years.

Margaret later married John Charles Hamilton Stanley in 1881 and produced another family of four children being Charles (1882), Henry (1884), Maud Hamilton (1885) and Herbert Russell (1888).

Russell and Ann Graham (née Gilmour) McPherson

Russell was aged 40 years before he surrendered his days of bachelorhood and married Ann Graham Gilmour at the Bald Hills Presbyterian church on 28 October 1887. Ann, born on 30 November 1858 in Carmunnock, Scotland, was the daughter of David and Janet (née Pollock) Gilmour. The family arrived in Australia on 15 January 1883 aboard the Firth of Lorne.

In 1890, Russell and his wife inherited the Springfield property. The family is also reputed to have owned land at Redcliffe.

The couple reared five children: John born at Sandgate in 1888 and who was killed in action in France in 1918; David Gilmour (born 1889, died at war in Belgium in 1917); Russell (1893-1964); Janet Pollock (1894-1979) and Hugh Grant (1898-1975).

Private John McPherson is buried in the Heath cemetery, Harbonneries, France while his younger brother, Private David McPherson is buried in Westhof Farm cemetery, Neuve-Eglise, later renamed Nieuwkerke. Neither John nor David was married.

Russell and Annie lived all their lives at the family property of Springfield, near Sandgate. Russell died on 3 September 1933 from cerebral thrombosis. Ann lived on until 16 April 1942. After they died, the land was divided equally between the surviving sons, Russell and Hugh in 1943.

Bald Hills Cemetery 
Bald Hills Cemetery 
Bald Hills Cemetery 

George Bruce and Ann (née Warburton) McPherson

Unlike his brother, Russell, who married later in life, George married at age 24. George and Ann Warburton married in Bundaberg in 1873 and raised a family of eight children. They were George Henry (1877-1957); Elspeth Jane (1880); Christina Ann (1884); John Arthur (1887-1963); Isabella Mary (1891); Rachel May (1893); Gladys Maud (1899) and Edith Amelia who was born on 1 May 1902.

George's occupations were dairyman and butcher during the time the family resided at Bundaberg. George McPherson was known to be a partner with a Mr T. Baldwin in the firm of G. McPherson & Co., Butchers, and a notice dated July 1875 stated " ... discontinuing business at the end of the month". According to Post Office directories, George was a farmer at Gin Gin in 1889 and no doubt he continued in that capacity until his retirement when the family moved to Brisbane.

George died as a result of heart failure, congestive pneumonia and a fracture of the neck and right femur on 7 May 1938 at his residence at 17 Juliette Street, South Brisbane and was buried at Toowong cemetery in Brisbane.

George and Rachel (née McPherson) Mockridge

Rachel, also known as Rose, aged 21 years, married a butcher, George Mockridge, aged 27, on 5 June 1872 at Springfield, the family's Sandgate property according to the rites of the Baptist church.

George was born on 4 December 1844 in Somersetshire, England, to parents, Peter and Grace (née Aviss).

Eight children were born to George and Rose: Rachel Grace (1874); Elspeth, known as Elsie (1876); Evaline Grace (1879); Christina (1881-1900); Flora (1882); Daisy (1887); Mary (1889) and George (1894-1963).

Rachel (Rose) died on 9 March 1915, aged 64 at the family home at Washington Street, Sandgate. The cause of death was due to a cerebral haemorrhage. She was buried at the Bald Hills cemetery. George lived on to reach his 84th year and died on 22 August 1928.