Our Australian Duncans, by John Duncan

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Cousin John Duncan's Introduction

updated 07 Feb 2016


Wence Many Went


Chapter 4, an Extract from

"We Are All Margaret Haldane's Bairns"

"By John Duncan,

"of Melbourne, Australia 2001"

Transcribed & Updated for the web,
by his American Cousin,
Colleen Cahoon, of Texas

You may submit questions or comments to Mo at Jezzmo

Our Australian Duncans

       From the family of Isabella Napier Stewart, born on 14 Nov 1857, at Central District, Glasgow. { IGI Record Batch No. C116441, Dates: 1855-1874, Source call No. 6035516 } and Malcolm McMillan Duncan, all four of the daughters came to Australia, namely Christine Duncan #14, Isabella Napier Stewart Duncan #16, Elizabeth McMillan Duncan #17, and after retirement, Mary Duncan #15.

        Two brothers, James Duncan #18 and Malcolm McMillan Duncan #21 went to Canada.

        The third brother Dugald McMillan Duncan #20 married Annie Moore #22 and both their sons, Dugald McMillan Duncan #24 and John Duncan #26 (compiler) emigrated to Australia.

"(Malcolm and Isabella seated;
Back: Elizabeth McMillan Duncan #17,
James Duncan #18,
Mary Duncan #15;
Front: Christine Duncan #14,
Dugald McMillan Duncan #20 [the compiler's father,]
and Isabella Napier Stewart Duncan #16.)

        The first to arrive in Australia was Christine Duncan who married Mr. Moffat #84 but died in childbirth, and afterwards Mr. Moffat lived in Chelsea, a beach suburb of greater Melbourne. It is not known whether they married in Scotland or Australia.

        Isabella Napier Stewart Duncan [28 years] married William Alfred Bousted Boyd #85 [30 years] in Glasgow, on the 25th of June in 1924. The ceremony took place at her mother’s house, 27 Richmond St., Glasgow, with Henry Turner, Minister of John Knox St. Baptist Church, officiating.

        Alf’s usual address was given as 24 Maryfield Place, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, and his parent’s as John Boyd, Master Grocer, and Rachel Boyd m.s. Calder. { Marriage Registered 30 June 1924., No 104 District of St Rollox, Glasgow.}

        They emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in the 1930’s, apparently together with Elizabeth McMillan Duncan.

        Alf Boyd was a Scottish merchant seaman officer, when resident in the U.K. and may have served in the British Navy in World War One.

        During the second World War, he was an officer in the Australian Navy on one of their smaller vessels. From what he told me, he spent most of the war manning the harbour boom at Fremantle, Western Australia. The purpose of the boom was to keep enemy submarines and other craft out, and it had to be lifted to let friendly craft out of harbour.

        After the war he was employed by the Melbourne Harbour Trust as a storeman, and later a desk job at their William St., Melbourne, Head office.

        In 1951 he had a heart attack at his desk, and although he survived this, he had to be pensioned off work.

        Isa and Alf were deeply involved with the female version of Freemasonry, i.e. The Order of The Eastern Star, which took up a lot of their free time visiting other Orders, and on social outings with other members. They also enjoyed caravanning, again with O.E.S. members.

        Before 1951 they operated some sort of boarding-house in Albert Park, South Melbourne where Joseph B. Hughes #86 with his sons and daughters lodged when they came to Australia, presumably in 1930.

        Joe was a retired fishmonger from Aberdeen where he had a shop, and apparently his wife died there. He was also a lay preacher. It was at this boarding-house that Joe met Elisabeth McMillan Duncan and they married.

        Later, Alf and Isa bought a house in 7 Moylan St., East Bentleigh, and afterwards they moved to the beach suburb of Blairgowrie.

        Elizabeth McMillan Duncan was engaged to a son of Keir Hardie, the first British socialist member of Parliament, who was termed the Father of British Socialism. Her fiancee, Duncan Hardie, worked as an electrical engineer with the City of Glasgow, Electricity Supply Department, but unfortunately he was killed by “a switchboard explosion”, and Bessie must have decided to emigrate after this event.

        Joe an Isa had a house at Alphington, but later moved to 2 Stevens St., Queenscliff, where they ended their days.

        Joe’s son Robert Watson Hughes, MBE, is a classical Composer and Music Arranger/Editor in the Music Department of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1946 - 1976 and has had eight orchestral works published. He served with the AIF MID 1942-45 during World War Two. He lives at Bonbeach, Vic. 3196.

        Who’s Who in Australia advises that Robert was born on 27 Mar 1912 at Leven, Scotland, settled Australia 1930; educated at Robert Gordon’s College [Aberdeen] and Melbourne University.

        Jim Hughes was another son of Joe’s who was involved in the Broadcasting field. He was a Comedian and Announcer with the 3DB company and was a very popular personality and performer. His stage name was Jock McLaughlan.

Dugald McMillan Duncan #24.

        Was the brother of the compiler, (John Duncan) and was born in April 1913 in Glasgow.

        He lived with his parents, sister Catherine, and baby brother John at Claythorn St., Calton, which is just east of Glasgow Cross. He emigrated to Victoria, Australia, when he was a boy about 14 years of age, under what was probably called the Big Brother movement.

        His immigration was arranged by a Dr. Cossar [Cosser], who had a youth club in a lane off Gallowgate, close to Claythorn St., which Dugald must have frequented.

        He was employed on a farm in the Geelong area, and it was there that he met Mamie Cleary and they subsequently had two daughters - Dorothy and Anne.

        Later the family lived in Lygon St., Carlton, Melbourne, and Dugald was employed as a gardener with the Parks Department of the Melbourne City Council.

        Dugald was a member of a civilian army unit, and when war was declared in 1939, he enlisted in the regular army. His Unit, the 6th. Division, was shipped out to the Middle East, where hostile action had yet to be encountered.

        During the Greek campaign on the mainland, Dugald was transferred to the island of Crete, and during the German Airborne Invasion of Hanea, he was wounded and evacuated to hospital in that town which was then the capital city.

        A soldier mate who was also wounded, and receiving treatment at the same hospital, advised our family that the hospital was bombed by the Germans and it was a case of every man for himself, and that was the last time he saw Dugald.

        Mamie Cleary and the two girls were well looked after by the returned service-men organisation Legacy, and were living at Ararat.

Family of Dugald McMillan Duncan & Mamie Cleary #35.

1]    Annie Catherine Duncan #36 born 06 Feb 1937, married 1957, Robert Donald Shalders #38
      born 08 Oct 1937, died 20 Oct 1968.

      Family:    1]  Living Daughter and son-law.

                      2]  Living Daughter

                      3]  Living Daughter and son-in-law.

                      4]  Living Daughter

                      5]  Living Son and daughter-in-law.

       Family:    1]  Living Daughter

                      2]  Living Son.

2]   Dorothy Duncan #37 was born 20 Aug 1938 and was married on 12 Jul 1958, to Noel David Grigg #49, who was born on 24 Aug 1935.

      Family:     1]  Living Son.

                      2]  Living Daughter.

                      3]  Living Son and daughter-in-law.

                           Family:    1]  Living Son

                      4]  Living Son and daughter-in-law.

                           Family:    1]  Living Daughter.

                                          2]  Living Daughter.

John Duncan #26 and Matilda McKendrick Miller #27

      John was born on 03 May 1926 and initially lived in Claythorn St. Calton, Glasgow, until his parents moved to 125 Quarryknowe St. Parkhead, Glasgow. This was the depression years, and, like all students, he was given no other choice than to leave Riverside Senior Secondary school at the age of 14 years.

      At the age of sixteen years, he joined his father as an apprentice electrician in the shipyard of Alexander Stephen & Sons, at Linthouse, Govan.

      He met Mattie at the Crossmyloof ice-skating rink and six weeks later they were engaged, and eighteen months later, on 09 Mar 1951, they were married at Gartcosh, and on Matties’ nineteenth birthday, 06 Jul 1951, they stepped ashore at Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

John and Mattie Duncan, 09 March 1951 at Gartcosh.

      Mattie was born on 06 Jul 1932 at Springburn and later her parents moved to No. 2 Kingshill Cottages, Gartcosh, Lanarkshire. She attended Coatbridge High School, and in her fourth year she left at the age of sixteen years to attend the Whiteley Business College in Glasgow and attained a 99.8% pass in her final year in the subject of Comptometer Operator.

      Initially they lodged with John’s aunt and uncle - Isa and Alf Boyd at 7 Moylan St. Bentleigh East. Building materials were still in short supply, and rented accommodation was almost impossible to obtain, and there was intense competition to obtain the few which were advertised.

      Their current address [2000] is 3 Sunrise Court, Gisborne. 3437.

      John has written a biography which currently covers 1926 to 1970, so there is another thirty years of his life history to be written!

Family of John & Mattie Duncan.

      1]  Living Son.

           Family:    1]  Living Son.

      2]  Living Daughter and son-in-law.

           Family:    1]  Living Daugher
                          2]  Living Daughter.

Mary Moss McMillan Stewart Duncan #15.

      My aunt Mary was born in Glasgow and lived most of her life there until after her retirement, when she went to Australia in 1951/1952 and stayed with her sister Isabella Boyd at 7 Moylan St. East Bentleigh, during the same period as John & Mattie, also boarded there.

      She returned to Glasgow circa 1953, apparently with the intention of giving up her rented flat in Craigpark Drive, Dennistoun, and returning to live permanently in Australia.

      John & Mattie had also returned to Scotland in 1953, but in 1955 they returned to Melbourne, on the air-conditioned Southern Cross via South Africa, which is a cooler route than through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. They suggested to aunt Mary that she should also book passage on this ship, but she had a preference for the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line ships, such as the Moreton Bay and Esperance Bay which she highly praised, but I was advised that she gave her stewards quite a hard time.

      These were old ships, soon to be scrapped in the 1960.s, and, with no air-conditioning their passage through the Red Sea, was quite an ordeal for all aboard, as Mattie and I can testify to. Whether the heat was a contributing factor, I cannot say, but at dinner one evening, Mary had a severe stroke, which made her drop her cutlery, and become confined to the ship’s hospital for the rest of the voyage.

      When her ship reached Fremantle, she was transferred to hospital without regaining conscience, and died very shortly thereafter in 1955.

      Mary must have been born Circa 1885 and lived with her parents in Richmond St., Glasgow, off Duke St, which street has now been swallowed-up, when the Strathclyde University was extended. She continued to be a member of John Knox St. Baptist Church.

      Some time later, after the death of her father, and all her brothers and sisters had flown the nest. Mary and her mother moved to a flat in Craigpark Drive. As a very young child, I recollect my grandmother confined to bed in this flat, too ill for conversation, and I in awe that “smokeless coal” had to be burned in the same room because of her condition. She must have died shortly after my visit around 1936.

      Mary served in Signals with the British Expeditionary Force in France during the 1914 to 1918 War, possibly as a telephonist or radio operator. She never discussed this period of her life, but when I was in primary school, she gave me her gas-mask satchel to carry my books in. She never married, but I inherited a silver identity bracelet which she wore in the war, inscribed Mary Duncan 42276 Signals on one side, and on the obverse side, J.S. 25 Jun 1918.

      Did Mary have an understanding with the mysterious J.S.? Was J.S. one of the many casualties of that dreadful war? Did Mary sacrifice marriage to look after her sick mother? We shall never know!

      What I do know, is that Mary was awarded a medal for service in the 1914-1918 War, inscribed on the rim: 42276 W.K.R. M.M.M.S. Duncan, Q.M.A.A.C., with the head of King George on one side. Another medal she received, I would describe as a Peace Medal, the rim was similarly inscribed, and on one side was the Angel Of Peace, the other side has the head of K.G. 5 and 1914 - 1919 War.

      Mary was an icon at the Dennistoun branch of the Glasgow Telephone Services, where she served a very long time as a supervisor, and was awarded the Imperial Service Medal upon her retirement, which had the head of King George the Sixth plus the inscription, For Faithful Service. When my sister, Catherine Hence also served in the same capacity at this Telephone Exchange, aunt Mary’s stool was on display there, and the former recipient was still spoken of in awe!

      Mary’s bracelet, and her three medals are now in the possession of my daughter, Dorothy Anne Petran.


Isabella Duncan #98.

      Isabella, was born on 25 May 1906, at 27 Richmond St., Glasgow, and was the daughter of John Duncan #8, who was a sibling of Malcolm McMillan Duncan #6 my grandfather, and she married Thomas Whiteside #101 in Sept.1935.

      She lived at Dunoon, Scotland, until she reached the age of 92 years, when she went to live with her son at Rothbury, England, and died c1999.

      Their son Gordon Duncan Whiteside #102 was born on 29 Jun 1939 in Glasgow, and married Constance Mary Bell #103 on 29 Oct 1967 in Glasgow, and now live in Rothbury.

      They have two Living Children, a Daughter and a Son.

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