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James Maxwell and Jenet Fingland

Their Story

James grew up on a farm near Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire, southwest of Scotland, where the family activities were connected with dairy production, some beef production and poultry keeping. 

Each year an Agricultural Show was held and during the progress of the show a ploughing competition eventuated, the prize being a silver medal suitably inscribed.  In the year 1832, James then sixteen years, entered the said competition; as he proceeded down the field an onlooker remarked that the lad drew a neat furrow, commented favorably on the pair of magnificent horses and remarked that the ploughman with the smooth face (beards were then the vogue) appeared to be only a boy.  Jenet Fingland, then a lass of tender years, could restrain herself no longer, the gentleman was elderly and a complete stranger but pride caused a complete obliveration of inhibitions and she proudly said "that is Jamie Maxwell and I do most fervently hope he wins". Her fervent hopes were justified, the silver medal was duly presented and has been handed down through generations of Maxwells.   

Jenet Fingland, daughter of Robert and Joanna (nee Irvine) of Balmaclellan, must have played her cards correctly as she married James Maxwell a few years later, their family, all born in Scotland, were: Mary, Joanna, Thomas, Jane and Elizabeth. 

The Maxwells also joined the immigration of Scottish families and arrived in Sydney on 24th April, 1853 aboard the "Java", James, gave his occupation as a farmer, and his age as 39 years, his wife Jenet 37 years, Mary 13, Johanna 10, Thomas 7, Jane 5 and Elizabeth 3. James Paid E4.10.0 toward the fares of "self and family" and was said to have a brother, Thomas, living in the New England in the employ of Mr. Veitch. Unfortunately we have not been able to find any documents which may lead us to Thomas' descendants. 

James and his family proceeded to Moredun, New England and took up farming there. "Moredun" was a squatterage, consisting of 67,200 acres and was held by Andrew Wauchope, who hailed from Scotland where lie had field the position of Provost of Edinburgh. Andrew Wauchope field his land by purchase for many years, eventually selling to his manager, John Mitchell about 1898. The lot of the farmer was certainly of a much higher standard than that of the shepherds who, when washing sheep in the pool before shearing, the men would be up to their waists in caustic their only compensation against discomfort being an issue of free rum. It is reputed that Thunderbolt often camped at the station, the shepherds who were friendly with him, supplying him with a fresh horse which he usually let go at his next haven and it would find its own way back to the station. 

Meanwhile James and Jenet's family were to find homes of their own, Mary became Mrs. James Newby in 1857, their only child Jessie was born in 1858. James Newby passed away in 1859 from pneumonia. 

Johanna married 1860 at Moredun, Thomas Pitkin, both were residents of Moredun at that time and they raised a large family, living at Nymboida and Kangaroo Creek.

Jane contacted a terminal illness and passed away at Moredun in 1862, age '15 years, her last resting place being Moredun Station. 

About this time James Maxwell and his son-in-law Thomas Pitkin moved from Moredun and selected adjoining land at Nyrnboida. James' 1000 acres and Thomas' 50 acres were registered in 1862. 

At Nymboida, James and Jenetís widowed daughter, Mary Newby was to again find happiness when she wed Charles Ellis, son of Joseph and Ann (nee Robinson), in 1867. Charles was an Overseer, the witnesses were Elizabeth Maxwell and Toni Ellis and the officiating Minister being Rev. Fillingham of the Wesleyan Church, Grafton. 

Mary and Charles were to be blessed with a family of Anti, Elizabeth, Charles, Mary I., and James J. Jessie Newby, the child of Mary's first marriage, appears to have lived as a daughter of tile house with the James Maxwells until her marriage to Henry Pitkin of Tenterfield. 

Elizabeth married 1872, Thomas Mitchell, a grazier of Moredun, at the residence of James and Jenet Maxwell, Kangaroo Creek, the witnesses were John Mitchell and Thomas Pitkin. 

James and Jenet's son, Thomas married 1866, Christina McLennan, daughter of Alexander and Mary (nee Matheson) at Glenfernaigh, at the home of the bride's parents. 

James Maxwell moved from Nymboida to Kangaroo Creek shortly after Thomas' marriage, leaving Thomas to manage the Nyrnboida holdings.

Jenet passed away at the early age of 60 years, on 24th March, 1877, James being spared until he had reached the grand old age of 84 years and died 16th December, 1898. Both of these early pioneers of the district are buried on Maxwelton among the friendly hills they loved so well.   

Source: A History of Coutts Crossing and Nymboida Districts


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