Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Craigellachie, Windsor

In the early days of Brisbane there was quite an influx of Scottish tradesmen, principally as a result of the influence of Dr JD Lang. SS Fortitude brought Scottish immigrants to Moreton Bay in 1849, and many more followed. Twenty year-old John Grant, a stone mason, arrived on board the William Miles in 1855. Also on that voyage was the McPherson family, and Grant was destined to marry Jane McPherson, the oldest daughter. The McPhersons initially worked on the McConnel family's Cressbrook station in the Brisbane Valley, but later returned to buy their own property at Bald Hills.

After marrying at Ipswich in 1859, it appears that John and Jane Grant were diligent and therefore prospered. John and Jane had nine children, although one of their sons died at the age of two. In the late 1880s they bought land at Windsor, and around 1890 John constructed the family home there. He built it from Brisbane tuff, probably excavated just up the road from his house at the Windsor quarry. 

The house was called "Craigellachie" after the Scottish town in the middle of the whisky belt. Clan Grant has the battle cry "Stand fast Craigellachie", so the name of the house obviously had significance for Brisbane's Grant family.
(Photo: © 1982 National Trust of Queensland; Ray Sumner & Frank Bolt)

Not all the Scots turned out to be upstanding citizens of the new colony. Jane Grant's brother, James Alpin McPherson, spent his initial years here at school, then as an apprentice in the well-known Petrie family's construction business. In 1864 he left his apprenticeship and turned to life as a bushranger. Known colloquially as "The Wild Scotchman", James McPherson robbed mail coaches, hotels and cattle stations throughout Queensland until he was captured and imprisoned in 1866.
 (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #109649)
James McPherson was released from the prison on St Helena Island in 1874. He married in 1878 and by 1890 he and his own family were living in Burketown, Far North Queensland, so it is doubtful that he ever visited the home of his sister and John Grant. James McPherson was killed in Burketown as a result of a riding accident in 1895. It is claimed that some of  McPherson's exploits were woven into the novel "Robbery Under Arms".

Craigellachie remained in the Grant family until 1974. At some stage it was converted into flats, but a renovation in the mid-seventies saw it restored to a family home again. This is the way it looks now.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

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