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The Church at Symington

Dugald & Susan Mitchell, Aug. 2000
(We are not yet sure that this is the Church the Patersons used.)





















This portrait has been handed down in the Borthwick family but no-one is now certain about its origin or subjects. The adult looks very like the William Murray Borthwick in the sketch at the top of this page, The child with the round face may be his youngest son WMB II, or perhaps another child.































































































































































William Murray Borthwick

(1st son of John BORTHWICK & Elizabeth DINWOODIE)

Click on the images on this page if you'd like to see a larger version.

Early Life

William Murray Borthwick was born on 13 May 1782, according to the parish register, but 5 May 1782, according to all other records, including the sampler sewn by his daughter Jane. He was baptised on 19 May 1782 in the Church of Scotland at Moffat, Dumfriesshire. At the time his father was said to be "at Selcoth". Was he a farmer? a shepherd? a landlord? Selcoth is a beautiful valley leading into steep and rugged sheep farming country near Moffat.

The original Parish Record for Moffat Church lists in 1782:

May 13th 1782, John Borthwick in Selcoth in this parish & Elisabeth Dunwoodie his wife had a Son Born & he was Bapd on the 19th. Called William Murray

We know nothing yet about William Murray Borthwick's early years or education. It is possible that he went to a college or university in England, or went there to work on newspapers or in the publishing trade. Alternatively he may have worked in the publishing trade in Edinburgh or Glasgow. It is said that he worked for The Scotsman newspaper, which commenced publication in 1817, or even that he was part-owner of that paper, but unfortunately they do not hold any records for the early 1800s. William Murray Borthwick is not listed amongst the 1817 founders of the paper, which makes sense as he commenced publication of his own Clydesdale Journal in Lanark in 1818.

Marriage to Helen Paterson of Symington

On 1 December 1808, William Murray Borthwick (WMB) married Helen Paterson. The official record of this marriage has not been located, despite a search of every county in Scotland. (The only evidence of the date is a 160 year-old sampler sewn by their daughter Jane Borthwick, some time after 1838. The Australian death certificate for Helen Paterson states that they were married in Scotland.) At the time of their marriage William & Helen were both 26 years old.

Helen was the daughter of Thomas PATERSON & Theressa BRYDEN of Symington, in the county of Lanarkshire. She had been born on 2 July 1782 in Symington. Her father's occupation is not known but according to a letter to WMB from his brother John, dated July 1843, "Mr Thomas Paterson" was then "in the coal business" in Liverpool. Certainly in 1843 there was a Thomas Paterson, coal agent, in Liverpool. He was probably Helen's brother or uncle as her father died in 1824. Helen apparently also had brothers, or uncles, named John & James.

Children born in Scotland

  • Theressa Borthwick is said to have been born at Denny, Stirling, Scotland on 12 September 1809. She was certainly baptised there, on 5 October 1809. She was probably named after Helen Paterson's mother. (Denny is about 17 miles from Glasgow but much further north than any of the other towns in which the family has been found. 30 years later a Borthwick cousin married & settled in Denny. Were there Borthwick family members there in 1809?)
  • Elizabeth Borthwick was also born in Denny, Stirling, Scotland. She was born on 27 December 1810 & was named after William Murray Borthwick's mother, but died in April 1812 when she was only 15 months old. She was buried in the Churchyard at Symington, Lanark, where her great-grandparents, Thomas Paterson & Marion Kay, were then buried. In 1824 and 1825 her grandparents, Thomas Paterson & Theressa Bryden, were also buried in this family plot.
  • John Borthwick was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 22 Dec 1813. He was named after WMB's father. However he too died as a small child, aged only 2 years & 2 months, on 17 February 1816.
  • Elizabeth Borthwick was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 5 August 1814. (It was common in those days to name a child after one who had recently died.)
  • John Borthwick (the second child with this name) was born on 15 May 1816 in Glasgow, Scotland. He was born just 3 months after the death of the first John.
  • Thomas Paterson Borthwick was born in Lanark, Lanarkshire on 29 January 1818. He was probably named after Helen Paterson's father.
  • Jane Borthwick was born on 15 November 1823 in Edinburgh.
  • William Murray Borthwick was born in Edinburgh on 9 April 1826. He was baptised at Saint Cuthberts, Edinburgh on 3 May 1826. He was seven years old when the family came to Australia.

Some further information about these children can be found on the Borthwick Spouses page. Separate pages for each family will be added to this site when time permits.

The only evidence we have about some of these events comes from a sampler, thought to have been sewn around 1840 by Jane Borthwick, youngest daughter of William Murray Borthwick & Helen Paterson. In 1984 this sampler was carefully copied by Sue Bull, a descendant of Jane Borthwick & Angus Fletcher. For a larger image of this sampler click on the picture below. (It is a large file and may take some time to download.)

Sampler sewn circa 1840 by Jane Borthwick, daughter of WMB I.

Printer & Publisher, Scotland

By the time he was 35 years old William Murray Borthwick was a printer & publisher, of both newspapers, books & poetry. He was also a Tory, a supporter of the English government of the day, & his newspapers apparently reflected his political leanings.

The earliest Glasgow Directory in which I've been able to search for WMB is that of 1814 where he appears as:

  • "Borthwick W M , Star Office; house, 27 Gibson street."

My assumption at this stage is that the Star was a newspaper. He is recorded there again, with the same home address, in 1815.

  • 1816: BORTHWICK W M & Co, printers agents and booksellers, 184, Trongate
  • 1817: BORTHWICK W M & Co, printers, 101, Rottenrow

Then the family must have moved to Lanark (town). "William Murray Borthwick, printer & publisher", is recorded from 1818 to 1820 as being at Castlegate, in the town of Lanark, which is in the county of Lanarkshire, Scotland. This area is also known as Castlegate-street & as "the Castlegate". In 1818, William Murray Borthwick commenced publication of a cheap, octavo-size, monthly magazine called The Clydesdale Magazine. This was a new business venture in the town, although there had been publishers there at one time during the previous century.

Author Hugh Davidson wrote in 1910 thatThe Clydesdale Magazine had been printed from rooms in Vere House, rented from Dr William Inglis. William Borthwick & Co commenced printing "with the rude printing presses generally employed at that period, & before steam power & other notable appliances had improved the art". They reprinted & published various standard works in English literature & sold them cheaply. In doing so they were pioneers of this type of publishing, making literary works & the monthly magazine available to a much wider readership. The Clydesdale Magazine was part newspaper, part literary journal, usually 50 pages or so. Davidson described it as being "of high intelligence & literary excellence, contrasting favourably with many of the literary magazines of the present day".

WMB employed a person named Alexander Fordyce; Basil Roland, who was a poet, humorist & elocutionist; a person named Aitken who became an actor; Captain Wingate, a young soldier; David Prentice of Castlepark who later became editor of The Glasgow Chronicle; John Gibson who became a lawyer in Lanark; John Marr then Chief Clerk-Depute & afterwards a well-known lawyer; & William Robertson, bookseller, who later emigrated to Australia. [If you know of any of these people I would love to hear from you. Please email me . Karen Black, a descendant of David Prentice, has been in touch with me and there is now a page on this site for him.

Scottish Book Trade Index re ROBERTSON, William bookseller and circulating library Lanark Castlegate-street 1820 and printer Castlegate 1825 and stamp office High Street 1837 ‘Middling good; Very untidy in his business’ Oliver and Boyd Travellers Logbook NLS Acc.5000/78 Pigot 1820; 1825; 1837; Bell]

However WMB's printing & publishing enterprise in Lanark was not financially viable & closed down in less than two years. He freely acknowledged later that he had been "financially embarrassed". In 1820 WMB made a composition with his creditors.

From 1819 to 1821 William Murray Borthwick, printer & publisher, is recorded as having a business address of "Robert Alexander & W.M. Borthwick, Clydesdale Journal Office, Hamilton". Hamilton is also in the county of Lanarkshire, just a few miles from Glasgow. It seems that on the failure of The Clydesdale Magazine WMB moved his business to Hamilton where he commenced, in February 1820, The Clydesdale Journal. He described it as "a loyal weekly paper". Among other things, the Journal did not support the reform of Parliament being called for at that time by discontented Scotsmen.

At this time, no doubt because of his financial difficulties, WMB took in a partner, Robert Alexander, who was to pay for his share in "instalments" . It was later revealed that possibly £600 of the capital for The Clydesdale Journal had been contributed by Lord Douglas, Mr W E Lockhart of Cleghorn, Mr Henry Monteith of Carstairs, Sir Henry Steuart, & "other noblemen & gentlemen of the county who approved of its principles" (ie Tories). These included Sir James Stewart, Charles Pye Esq, Adam Douglas Esq, Sir W Maxwell, J Hutton Esq, Hugh Bogle Esq & J Couts Crawford Esq. William Aiton, the Sheriff substitute at Hamilton prepared the prospectus & wrote the principal articles for The Clydesdale Journal.

However WMB's partner, Robert Alexander, wanted to move the business to Glasgow. He reluctantly agreed & on 10 October 1821 the first issue of a new weekly paper in Glasgow, The Glasgow Sentinel, appeared. From 1821 to 1822 William Murray Borthwick, printer & publisher, is recorded as having the business address of "Glasgow Sentinel, Nelson Street, Glasgow". Robert Alexander is recorded at the same address.

Duels & Dastardly Deeds

[The following is a greatly simplified version of a very long & complex story - starring numerous courts & lawyers. I'd love to hear from anyone who is connected to, or knows of, the other players in these dramas. Please email me]

The first issue of The Glasgow Sentinel, in October 1821, contained a libellous attack on James Stuart, the younger, of Dunearn, WS, (a Writer to the Signet, or solicitor as we would say today). He was the eldest son of Charles Stuart of Dunearn in Fifeshire. Stuart commenced an action for libel against Borthwick & Alexander, but proceedings were stayed owing to a dispute between the two publishers.

WMB went to London for nearly a month & stated afterwards that he had not been aware of, or a party to, the articles published in his newspaper during that time. Not long after The Glasgow Sentinel commenced WMB decided that he wished to retire from the business, partly, at least, because he was unhappy about the libellous articles. He sold his share in the business to Alexander.

After a number of efforts in the lower courts to require him to do so, Alexander still failed to pay WMB for the business. On 14 February 1822 The Court of Magistrates of Glasgow decided that Robert Alexander should fulfil his part of the contract within six days & if he did not W M Borthwick "should be put in possession of his property as before".

On 1 March 1822 WMB went onto the premises & took possession. When Alexander found out about this he went to a person at Hamilton to whom WMB had been formerly indebted & persuaded that person to seek the arrest of WMB. On the night of 1 March WMB was arrested on the alleged outstanding debt, which was for 50 pounds. He insisted that he had already paid the debt. He spent a night in gaol until his solicitor paid the "debt" and had him released.

Upon his release WMB went to the offices of The Glasgow Sentinel & took away various papers to which he considered he had a right.

WMB then went before the magistrates at Glasgow & complained of the obstruction he had received in carrying their decree into effect. The outcome of that is not known & can only be determined by obtaining the court papers from Glasgow.

The common ground is that WMB or his representatives provided to Stuart or Stuart's representatives (at a place called the Tontine Inn near Glasgow) the manuscripts of the offending articles.

When the manuscripts were delivered to Stuart he found that the libellous articles had been written by Sir Alexander Boswell, Bart of Auchinleck, & a distant cousin of Stuart's. Sir Alexander was at that time in London, attending the funeral of his brother. (Alexander Boswell, born 1773, was the son of the famous James Boswell, biographer for Ben Johnson. He was a well-known & popular poet & song-writer. In 1815 he had established a private press at Auchinleck. He was an active magistrate & deputy-lieutenant of Argyleshire, & lieutenant-colonel of the Ayreshire cavalry. In 1818 & 1820 he was elected member for Plympton, in Devonshire. In August 1821 he had been created a baronet. )

Sir Alexander Boswell had apparently been a "very industrious contributor" to both The Beacon (another Tory paper not owned by WMB) & The Glasgow Sentinel . He'd supplied about 30 articles, in all of which James Stuart was ridiculed, criticised or libelled.

The Last Duel in Scotland: James Stuart & Alexander Boswell

On 25 March 1822 Stuart challenged Boswell to a duel & Lord Rosslyn asked Boswell to "appoint an hour" as soon as possible. In the course of the night, however Stuart & Boswell were both arrested & taken before the sheriff, who bound them over to keep the peace within the town & country of Edinburgh. It seems that they just avoided this order by moving the event, as it was then arranged that the duel should take place in Fifeshire!

On 26 March the parties met near the village of Auchertool, at the farm of Balbarton near Kirkaldy. Lord Rosslyn acted as "second" for Stuart, & the Hon John Douglas for Boswell. Stuart again tried to effect a reconciliation ("say sorry") but Boswell was obstinate. The parties fired & Stuart, who had never handled a pistol before, seriously wounded his opponent.

To the obvious dismay of both sides Sir Alexander Boswell died the next day at Balmuto, the seat of his ancestors, in the presence of his wife & family. He was buried at Auchinleck.

Some sources record this as the last known duel in Scotland. I have found on the internet, however, the description of a later duel in 1826.

Some of the circumstances of the Stuart/Boswell duel & Boswell's death are reproduced by the famous Scottish novelist, Sir Walter Scott, in the duel scene of "St Ronan's Well". At the time it was described by the London Times as a "melancholy event" & a "much lamented transaction" & from Edinburgh it was reported that "A lamentable catastrophe has filled Edinburgh with horror."

Over the course of these events WMB was thrown into goal three times for different reasons. None of those matters was prosecuted. Without access to the court papers it is difficult to know exactly what was finally alleged against WMB but it seems that he was charged with conspiring with Stuart to "steal" the manuscripts he had taken from the offices of The Glasgow Sentinel.

The Trial of James Stuart, WS

On 10 June 1822 Stuart was prosecuted by Sir William Rae, & defended by Messrs Frances Jeffrey, James Moncrieff, Henry Cockburn & other Whig members of the Scottish bar. Mr Henry Cockburn opened & Frances Jeffrey followed. "No Scotch trial in my time excited such interest," Lord Cockburn says in his book, Memorials of His Time.

Throughout the night a large crowd assembled around Parliament House anxious to know the result. At 5am on 11 June 1822 the jury, without retiring, found Stuart not guilty. The verdict was received, by a very crowded court, with loud cheers.

WMB was released within 24 hours of the acquittal of Stuart & the prosecution against him was never proceeded with. Altogether he had spent 70 days in gaol. In his words, written on the day he was released:

I have been liberated from jail, after having endured the most rigorous confinement therein for upwards of seventy days, & been exposed to every privation, & great expense in preparing for my defence in these criminal prosecutions. While my wife & family have been left without support, & my private affairs entirely ruined, my partner has been suffered to remain in possession of my property, using it as his own as an engine of oppression against me, & carrying on the same system of slander & abuse against individuals which ruined my newspaper. Time will shew whether for these wrongs there is any redress.

William Murray Borthwick's Petition to the House of Commons

Within weeks WMB had prepared & presented a petition to the English Parliament. It seems that the petition was for an inquiry into the wrongs allegedly done to him by public officials. Mr Abercromby took the case up on his behalf.

For a number of reasons, however, the matter was adjourned, or was not reached in any of the sittings of the House during 1822. It was finally debated in June 1823 a year after it had been presented.

Abercromby argued that there was no evidence at all to show mala fides (bad faith) on the part of Borthwick & of course no ground for the later charge of felony. He moved that the House resolve "That the conduct & proceedings of the Lord Advocate of Scotland towards W. M. Borthwick, late printer at Hamilton, were unjust & oppressive". After lengthy debates the vote was taken. It was close but was lost: 102 votes to 96. William Murray Borthwick must have been a disappointed man.

The full outcome of all of this for WMB is not yet known. It is clear that all court proceedings, both civil & criminal, were dropped. However there must have been a good deal of controversy surrounding him after he was released. His business ventures had been ruined. Did he stay in Scotland? Did he Did he go to England to work in newspapers there?

Edinburgh, 1823-1826

After these dramas the family must have moved to Edinburgh. In December 1823, when Jane Borthwick was baptised, her father was a Printer of Browns Street, Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Post Office Directory for 1824/5 lists WM Borthwick 6 Brown St, but in 1825/6 this is recorded as Misses W M Borthwick. (An error it seems?)

By the time William Murray Borthwick Jnr was baptised in May 1826 his father had apparently left the printing industry altogether. In the St Cuthbert's baptism record WMB Snr was described as a Spirit Dealer living at 6 Brown St, Edinburgh.

In the 1928/9 Post Office Directory for Edinburgh there is a W M Borthwick, Coach Proprietor, 25 Princes St. Did WMB change occupations once again?

What William Murray Borthwick did in Scotland, or perhaps England, between 1826 & 1833 is not known. Did he remain a Spirit Dealer, or Coach proprietor, or return to publishing? Is this when he worked for The Scotsman which had commenced publication in 1817? Did the family go to live near John Borthwick in Liverpool, or perhaps to work with (cousin?) Peter Borthwick on the London Morning Post?

The Borthwick Saga, written in Australia by WMB's great grandaughter, 140 years later, suggests that he returned to the newspaper business:

Grandfather William Murray Borthwick was born near Edinburgh, Scotland in 1826 and was the youngest child of a family of ten. When he was about six years old they came out [to Australia] from Scotland. His father, with two cousins, had been editing a paper in Edinburgh before leaving for Australia. From the stories that have been handed down to us, these Borthwicks has very decided views on the political situation obtaining in Great Britain at that time. It was their custom to print all news and advertisements of an innocuous character in the ordinary way, but a second sheet, giving heated criticisms of the way the country was run, would be printed with each issue and sold "under the counter" as we would say now. Evidently our great-grandfather had been too outspoken, and was warned by sympathetic friends that trouble was ripening and he was advised to get out of the country before he was sent out.

There may be more fiction than fact in this account. The History of James Thin, bookseller in Edinburgh ( indicates that newspapers were not sold from shops or in the street in the 1830s. Newspaper proprietors enrolled subscribers & employed men to deliver the papers to them at home. And the closest thing to a "second sheet" is the following, from the same source:

"The number of different newspapers published in Edinburgh in 1836 was eleven. None of these was daily, two were issued three times a week, the others either weekly or bi-weekly. ... The sale of these newspapers was very limited, but their place was, on the occasion of any unusual occurrence, supplied by ‘speech criers’ —a rough class, who, in gangs of two or three, paraded the streets at a space of thirty yards apart from each other, selling a slip of very coarsely printed paper, the title of which they bawled as giving a true and correct account, it might be, of a murder, a robbery, a criminal trial, or an ‘execution’, or a ‘drunken summons for the New Year’. These slips they sold at ½d. each, and people, especially in the humbler districts, bought with some eagerness their flimsy wares."

On a separate page I have begun a collection of information about Scottish Newspapers and my research regarding the Borthwick connections with them.

Bounty Immigrants, 1833

Whether the Borthwicks left Edinburgh and went to England, or moved somewhere else in Scotland, whether they were in financial difficulties or had a successful business we don't yet know. Whatever the situation the family must have been attracted by the stories told by agents recruiting people in the British Isles to emigrate to Australia. They were seeking people with skills, especially farmers, agricultural labourers, artisans & tradespeople. Often the agents chartered ships & sponsored the passage of people, being reimbursed by the colonial government.

Both WMB and his wife Helen lowered their ages - they were both almost 51 when they signed up to travel to Australia but both said that they were 45. The Archives Office of Tasmania Arrivals Index includes the following for arrivals in Hobart, Tasmania:

BORTHWICK, William Murray, Printer (on the Passenger list recorded as "Clerk or printer"), aged 45 & wife aged 45, & children Theresa 22, Elizabeth 18, John 15, Thomas Paterson 13, Jane 9 and William Murray aged 6.
GO3/1 page 621 Hay-Arthur 17 April 1833 £20 Advances No. 437

The "Lady East" left Liverpool, England on 5 June 1833 & arrived in Hobart on 28 October 1833. On 5 November she left Hobart bound for Sydney. The Borthwicks disembarked in Sydney on 15 November 1833 after a five month voyage. What kind of journey had they had? What did the family do on board over those long months? What did they expect to find in Australia?

(Please email me if you know of this ship, its passengers or its journey to Australia in 1833. I am in the midst of building a page for the "Lady East", including a passenger list for this particular journey.)

It is understood that WMB came to Australia with two of his cousins who settled in different States, Alex who went to Victoria & John who went to Queensland. Who were these cousins? As yet (January 2001) I have been unable to locate them. I suspect that one cousin was Alexander Hay Borthwick who settled in the Gippsland area of Victoria and that another was Alex's uncle, John James Malcolm Borthwick, who lived in Queensland at this time. I have made contact with one descendant of this family but would be delighted to hear from anyone else who knows of their early history in Australia. Please email me if you know anything about this family in Scotland or Australia.

Information received in April 2000 suggests another line of inquiry. There is some evidence to suggest that William Murray Borthwick's family were cousins of the Borthwicks of Crookston in Scotland. Lewis Borthwick, the third son of John Borthwick of Crookston, apparently came to Australia in the early 1800s and settled in Queensland. He had married Susan Westgarth in Edinburgh on 9 July 1843. Susan, her mother & her sister, Sophie Eather Huessler, are all buried at Toowong Cemetery in Queensland. Susan died young, in 1859, and Lewis lived on until 1876 so perhaps he returned to Scotland. Any further information on this family would be much appreciated. [EMAIL me]

"Learning the land" in Australia

Although William Murray Borthwick landed in Sydney as a printer, publisher & "journalist", he must have decided fairly quickly to join the pioneering squatters in NSW. In a letter written in 1846 to the Commissioner of Lands, he said that he had worked for two years for William Cox of "Hobartville" & two years for Colonel Dumaresq. We know nothing yet of those years. (Interestingly, quite independently of this letter, one descendant advised in 1999 that she understood WMB had secured "Saumarez" station near Armidale for Dumaresq. If this is correct - the dates for Dumaresq's settlement of "Saumarez" do fit with Borthwick events - it must have been to sit on the squatting run until someone else took over. In 1833 6,000 ewes were driven over the New England range for the AA Company, in the charge of William Telfer Snr.

Another descendant thought that WMB had worked on "Fernhill" near Wallacia for one of the Cox brothers, in order to learn the land. Here the dates are not quite so comfortable. Much further research is to be done!)

The family must have lived near Maitland at one stage & retained strong links there. Sons John Borthwick & Thomas Paterson Borthwick owned hotels in the district & both married Maitland girls (Anne Clift & Catherine Elizabeth Amelia Mayo). What was the Borthwick connection to Maitland during the years 1833-1837?

Whatever it was maintaining contact must have been difficult. A book on early settlers in the New England, Scots Corner, by Betty Cameron, describes the journey from Maitland. The source was the Rev Septimus Hungerford, describing his journey to Armidale in 1854, at least 15 years after the Borthwicks settled at Inverell.

"The trip from Maitland by horse and cart has been described as 'a week's tedious journey over bad roads, across rivers with no bridges, and sheers with no culverts; brakes for vehicles unknown, the only substitute being a sapling tied to the back of the vehicle when going downhill'."

In 1836 Governor Bourke introduced what was officially described as "a Bill to restrain the unauthorised occupation of Crown lands", but which was actually a law to recognise and encourage legitimate grazing in a belated acknowledgement of the squatter's dominant contribution to the colony's prosperity. (Roger Milliss, City on the Peel, p.?)

First Settlers at Inverell

William Murray Borthwick was certainly one of the first squatters in the Inverell District. According to Elizabeth Wiedemann he took up land near Yarrowyck on the Rocky River, a tributary of the Gwydir, about 1836. "However, there had been so much trouble with the natives that he decided to move on in search of more open country." (This may be the property "Yenrowock", referred to in family records. It is there said that WMB acquired it from John Lesson (?) in 1837, afterwards sold for £30, then in turn sold to Boyt & Robertson. It seems that either John Lesson or WMB subsequently bought it back again, with 140 cattle, for £1000, but this is not clear.)

In 1839 WMB & his family took up a squatting run which they called "Auburn Vale". Originally "Auburn Vale" may have been part of "Myall Creek", which was one of Henry Dangar's runs. WMB later said that he was able to take up the Auburn Vale run "through the kindness of Henry Dangar". WMB & his wife were both 57 years old when they went to Inverell to pioneer this isolated new country. Although they had adult children it was an incredible venture. Squatters generally built "slab huts", or other makeshift shelters, and had few communications. No regular supplies, no support in emergencies, no "how to" manuals.

The isolated and cruel environment the family lived in is illustrated by the fact that in 1838 the dreadful "Myall Creek Massacre" took place right next door to "Auburn Vale". A large family group of aborigines was hunted down and massacred by white convicts who had been assigned to various squatters in the district. The court cases are that followed are horrifying to read.

Helen Borthwick and her daughters must have been amongst the first white women to settle in the Inverell area. There was at that time only one other squatting family resident there - John Cameron & his family of Bannockburn. Most squatters claimed their run & then left male employees in charge of the run while they returned to townships or continued exploring.

Travelling back to civilisation was itself a risky enterprise. Bushrangers were a danger to travellers and settlers. According to historian Roger Milliss, in 1839-40 the northern districts from the Hunter to the Liverpool Plains were the centre of operations of the notorious "Jewboy" gang, led by Edward Davis. Millis suggests that by 1840 there were 1,154 whites on the Liverpool Plains, only 77 of whom were women. The proportion of women further north in the New England would have been even smaller.

"All but ruined" by Ward Stevens, c.1842

In the 1846 letter to the Commissioner of Lands referred to above, WMB said that in 1842 ...

[I] found myself all but ruined by Mr Ward Stevens. Mr Dangar again enabled me to bear up & through the extraordinary industry of myself & family was emerging fast to easy circumstances.

This is intriguing. Ward Stevens was a journalist and founder in 1832 of the Sydney Herald. Stevens also became a large landholder in NSW but got into financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt. What dealings did William Murray Borthwick and Ward Stevens have? Did they meet because of their common interest in newspapers and publishing, or in relation to squatting and pioneering in the Australian bush?

Twilight Years

It seems that William Murray & Helen Borthwick stayed in the Inverell district in their latter years, probably still living in their home at "Auburn Vale". Their son John, who died on 15 July 1862, left them 100 pounds per annum to be paid to them in quarterly payments. William Murray Borthwick gave his address as "Auburn Vale" in 1865, just a year before he died.

On 5 May 1865, a week before his 83rd birthday (or on the day of his 83rd birthday if the sampler is correct), WMB made a will. He was described as "William Murray Borthwick senior, of Auburn Vale, New England, Gentleman". The will, was witnessed by C Ross & Donald Fraser. C Ross was probably Colin Ross, who had arrived in Inverell (then known as Green Swamp) in 1851 to open a store and flour mill . Donald Fraser was possibly an employee of the law firm. WMB appointed as executrix his daughter-in-law, Ann Borthwick (nee Clift), widow of his son John who had died in 1862. He divided his estate as follows:

  • Helen Paterson Singleton, his granddaughter (daughter of Elizabeth Borthwick, born 7 years before her marriage to Michael Daisey), one sixth.
  • One sixth each to the children of Thomas Paterson Borthwick, John Borthwick, William Murray Borthwick, Jane Fletcher & Elizabeth Daisey.

It is not known why WMB gave an extra portion of his estate to Helen Paterson Singleton. (As daughter of Elizabeth Daisy she shared one sixth, & as well she was bequeathed one sixth.)

Helen Borthwick, nee Paterson, died on 21 September 1865 at Inverell, NSW. Her headstone refers to her as "Helen Paterson Borthwick", indicating that, as was the practice in Scotland, she kept her maiden name throughout the marriage. She was 83 years old when she died.

Fifteen months later William Murray Borthwick died, on 6 May 1866, at Inverell. A death notice and his obituary were both published in The Armidale Express on 19 May 1866. (These state that he was 84 years old when he died, suggesting that his birthday had been celebrated on 5 May, the day before he died.) The death notice is as follows:

"At Auburn Vale, on the 6th May, WILLIAM MURRAY BORTHWICK, native of Dumfriesshire, Scotland, aged 84."

Interestingly, WMBs death was not registered in NSW. The NSW probate index states that place of death was "NZ" but as might be expected from the above no death certificate can be found in New Zealand. The probate file does not provide the details. WMB was probably buried at "Auburn Vale", with a headstone erected later at Inverell Cemetery. Church or burial records might provide an answer and will be researched. Another mystery to be unravelled.

Inverell Gravestones

The headstone for William Murray & Helen Paterson Borthwick is in the Presbyterian portion of the Cemetery at Inverell, NSW. It is possible that they were both buried at "Auburn Vale", but that the headstone, or a replacement, was later moved in to the Inverell Cemetery where other family members are buried.

  Inverell Cemetery (Doug Wright, 2000)

The Borthwick Estate

Probate of WMB's will was granted on 29 May 1867 to his daughter-in-law, Anne Pilcher, the widow of his son John Borthwick. (When her second husband, Henry Incledon Pilcher, also died Anne Pilcher remarried again & became Anne Murray.)

The estate consisted of "goods sworn at £600". A small amount for one of the largest land holdings in the Inverell district. Had all of that land been transferred to children and grandchildren before WMB died?

Anne Murray was an outstanding businesswoman & significantly increased the assets of the estate before she died in 1910. But that is for further research, & another story!

Some References:
Henry Cockburn, Memorials of His Time, Edinburgh, 18??
*Hugh Davidson, Lanark: A Series of Papers, Edinburgh, 1910.
*Letter to Sir James Mackintosh, knt, MP, by Robert Alexander, editor of the Glasgow Sentinel, 1822 (on the first page of the British Museum copy of this letter there is a note in the handwriting of Lord Cockburn "A tissue of lies from beginning to end. HC")
*William Borthwick. Proceedings against Wm. Murray Borthwick, at the instance of His Majesty's Advocate, and of Robert Alexander, styling himself editor and proprietor of the Glasgow Sentinel newspaper. With an appendix of documents, and a preface, by William Murray Borthwick. Edinburgh for J. Robertson, 1822
*Elizabeth Wiedemann, World of Its Own, Inverell Shire Council and Devill Publicity, 1981.
*Microfilm of indices to Hunter Valley Parish records.
Roger Milliss, City on the Peel. A History of Tamworth and District 1818-1876.
*AW Cameron & Eve Chappell, Scottish Pioneers of the Glen Innes District, 1976

Copyright: Ann Carson 2001
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Last Updated: 18 November 2001