Dugald & Susan Mitchell, Aug.
(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.
of John BORTHWICK & Elizabeth DINWOODIE)
Click on the images on this page if you'd like to see
a larger version.
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
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
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.
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.
Borthwick was born on 15 November
1823 in Edinburgh.
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,
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
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 (http://www.jamesthin.co.uk/150part1.htm)
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.
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,
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
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?
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
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.
"Learning the land"
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
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.
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.)
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.
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
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
- 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,
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.
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
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!
*Henry Cockburn, Memorials of His Time,
*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.
Milliss, City on the Peel. A History of Tamworth and District 1818-1876.
Cameron & Eve Chappell, Scottish Pioneers of the Glen Innes District,
Copyright: Ann Carson 2001
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: 18 November 2001