Our Illawarra McKenzie’s in Books

Old Pioneer’s Reminiscences of Illawarra 1830’s – 1920’s – from the Illawarra Mercury 1923- 1925 – Old Pioneer was believed to be journalist Frank Young

Note – this was compiled from Old Pioneer’s stories from 1923-1925, which were updated by M. Organ and A.P. Doyle and published by Illawarra Historical Publications in 1989. On page 120 from Series No.59 -History of Balgownie – McMahon Pioneers

Along the road past Guest’s farm was the holding of Alexander McKenzie, father of the late William McKenzie; ..”


The Story of Austinmer – published 1967

The Story of Austinmer via Austinmer History Photographs - FB

The Story of Austinmer via Austinmer History Photographs – FB

Possibly another one of the earliest mentions of  our Illawarra McKenzie family members in books may be Alexina Cook nee McKenzie, daughter of Alexander McKenzie Snr and his 3rd wife Christina McGillivray. Alexina was mentioned in the 1967 centenary book, “The Story of Austinmer“by N S King, produced for Austinmer (formerly North Bulli) Public School, in Wollongong’s north. Alexina had been a teacher at North Bulli from 1880, and at the time of the Centenary some of the oldest living residents still had memories of her. More on Alexina Cook nee McKenzie.


Illawarra Family History Group’s Illawarra Pioneers – Pre 1900 – published 1988

Illawarra Family History Group’s Illawarra Pioneers -Pre 1920  – published 1992

Ted Finn contributed to both books, Donald McKenzie contributed to the pre 1900 book and M A Martin contributed to the pre 1920 book.


Illawarra Historical Publications – Index to References to Illawarra Names Pre 1856 – A.P. Doyle & Michael Organ – published 1992


The Descendants of John McKenzie and Charlotte McKenzie (nee Parmenter) – Mary Jean Smith – privately published – reference – the Society of Australian Genealogists.


Kirk McKenzie, descendant of Neil McKenzie’s eldest son John, had heard of a book possibly written on Neil’s branch of the Illawarra McKenzie’s that is in the Mitchell Library – viz  “Those People from Skye ” by Keith W Hodgson, 1998 or 2001 – see Reference.

There is another book in the Mitchell Library, “The Isle of Skye to Buninyong : Angus and Mary McKenzie & Descendants 1834 – 1994″, compiled by Lorraine McKenzie – SLNSW Ref. However a 2003  Sydney Morning Herald article  which refers to the book, indicates that they are a different Angus and Mary McKenzie, viz they emigrated to Australia 15 years after our “William Nicol” McKenzies, sailing in 1852 on the “Georgiana”.


Over the Sea From Skye – published 1992

Over the Sea From Skye - Donald McKenzie

Over the Sea From Skye – Donald McKenzie

In the global Mackenzie Clan, Donald McKenzie of Strathairn, descended from Alexander McKenzie Snr’s son Donald, was appointed to the position of Australian Lieutenant to Carbarfeidh (Caberfiedh). The Carbarfeidh has traditionally been MacKenzie of Seaforth – the head of the Mackenzie Clan.  (More here 12, 34 – and Clan MacKenzie in Australia).However Donald McKenzie of Strathairn’s true contribution was in the research for the book he was writing at the time of his 2002 death. It would be completed by his widow Beryl, step-daughter Vicki Saville and Sonia Mackenzie Commissioner of the Clan Mackenzie in New Zealand. Beryl, Vicki and Sonia collaborated to ensure “Over the Sea from Skye was published.

And with the kind assistance of Maureen Roberts, whose husband is descended from Alexander Jnr’s son Thomas, and the agreement of Beryl McKenzie, it has been possible to bring Don’s research to the web so that many more McKenzie descendants can read it. You can download it as a single document but it will take a couple of hours so be patient –  click here for single document – or to download individual sections see below

Sections  – click on links below to view individual sections

  • Section 1. Cover – Title – Contents – Author – Acknowledgements – Foreword – Alexander Mackenzie Senior – Portrait – Death Certificate – Will
  • Section 2. From Whenst We Came – Roddy Balfour’s Research -Family Tree – List of McKenzie’s who worked at Armadale – Old Parish Records – Our Generations – Our Life in Skye
  • Section 3. Our Departure from Skye – About the “William Nichol”  – Immigrants Ships Sailing 1837 – 1840 – Passengers of the William Nichol 1937 – Introduction to Medical and Surgical Journal – After Our Arrival in Australia – MacArthur’s Agreement
  • Section 4. Mackenzie Family Story – The Fairy Meadow School – Ownership of “Strathairn”
  • Section 5. Keith & Ada McIntosh – Alexander McIntosh & Mary Heelan Family Tree  – the Children of Angus McKenzie & Mary McIntosh – note Alexander McKenzie Jnr is covered in a limited way – the Children of Donald McKenzie and Christina Morison –
  • Section 6. Clan Mackenzie Family Records Sheet for Donald McKenzie – Alexander McKenzie Snr Family Tree (John Cullinane) – Donald McKenzie Pedigree Chart – Clan McKenzie of Scotland and UK Letter to Don McKenzie as Cabarfeidh – The Cullinane Calendar of McKenzie’s Leaving Sky – Angus, Alexander Snr, Alexander Jnr, Neil & Sister Mary McKinnon
  • Section 7. The “Jack Richie” Story – Poems – Where to Find Their Graves (Angus & Mary McIntosh, Alexander Mackenzie Snr & 3rd Wife Christina
  • Section 8. Official Histories of the Clans – Mackenzie/McKenzie – MacIntosh – McKinnon – Morrison/Morison – Grant – MacGillivary – All Relevant to our Family
  • Section 9. New South Wales Census for the Year 1841
  • Section 10. Alexander Mackenzie Junior
  • Section 11. John Mackenzie and Charlotte Parmenter by Jean Smith
  • Section 12. References – including the Medical & Surgical Journal of the “William Nichol”

(KC note -this section is under construction)

It was a tremendous tribute to the enormous contribution Don made in capturing the history of the family of Angus McKenzie and his wife Mary McIntosh as they left the poverty of the Isle of Skye with their children and grandchildren in 1837 – to the unknown world of Australia on the other side of the world. Of course with the passage time and maturing of internet technologies, we may address some of the questions which eluded Don McKenzie and where he had to draw conclusions based on then available information and which Ted Finn, disputed – it must be admitted. Reviewing Don McKenzie’s research he made the following contributions :

  • information on Angus McKenzie and Mary McIntosh’s ancestors on the Isle of Skye
  • information on birth, marriages and children of Alexander McKenzie Snr, Alexander Jnr, Neil McKenzie and Mary McKinnon nee McKenzie while they were on the Isle of Skye before leaving for Australia
  • information on the subsequent marriages, and also many of the children of Alexander Snr, Alexander Jnr, Neil and their sister Mary McKinnon – as well as the places where they lived.
  • Naturally, the main focus of Don’s research was on Alexander Senior, in particular on three of his nine children (ie Donald, John and Alexander), with some information on one of Alexander Junior’s 16 children (John) and a mention, but not too much detail, of the other 31 of Angus and Mary McKenzie’s possibly 35 grandchildren in total. Covering all of the possible 35 grandchildren would have been an enormous undertaking.
  • the location of Angus and Mary McKenzie’s burial at the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Kenny St Wollongong – placing a plaque to their memory and suitable restoration of their grave – shared with their eldest son Alexander Snr and his 3rd wife Christina McGillivray.

Note – with online Births, Deaths and Marriages, Digitised Newspapers via Trove and tools such as Ancestry and Find My Past, one can only wonder how much more Don McKenzie might have uncovered, given his extraordinary energy and tenacity? If only …

However, it is now possible to clear up some of the mysteries which eluded Don – including finding a close relationship between the two Alexander’s and of any between their children. In fact such a close relationship of some sort did exist between the two Alexander’s – and then literally continued over decades until 1926 between their daughters – viz Alexander Snr’s Alexina Cook, and of Alexander Jnr’s Mary Ann Hicks. Mary Ann being the only one of Alexander Jnr’s children who stayed in the Illawarra, after the remainder scattered from northern NSW down to Victoria.

McKenzie Cousins - Alexina Cook nee McKenzie at rear - Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie centre - Edith Joy nee Hicks front

McKenzie Cousins – Alexina Cook nee McKenzie at rear – Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie centre – Mary Ann’s daughter Edith Joy nee Hicks at front

No doubt in the absence of any available evidence by 2002, of such close relationships between the two Alexander’s and any of their children, Don queried whether the two could be brothers, despite the mention of such – in the obituaries for Neil McKenzie in the Illawarra Mercury – eg in October 14 1858.

So it is interesting to note that Alexander Snr was a witness to the 1849 wedding  of Alexander Jnr to Elizabeth Hanks, following the death of Alexander Jnr’s first wife in 1843. The marriage was conducted in the Scots Church Parramatta, by Rev. John Tait, who had been the first Presbyterian Minister in Wollongong.

And perhaps Don was looking for linkages in the later years between the male cousins, whereas in fact such a close relationship existed instead between two female McKenzie cousins – and extended over decades, until Alexina Cook nee McKenzie’s death in 1926. Not surprising really, as often it is the females who are the one’s who maintain the family connections – eg Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie was one such lady. 

Perhaps Donald McKenzie did not learn of the stories of his ancestor’s younger sister Alexina McKenzie, a school teacher, who from  1880 had taught at North Bulli School, now known as Austinmer, where her cousin Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie was one of the school’s lady supporters.

Later Alexina taught at Tongarra and Avondale, seemingly around the time that her cousin Mary Ann had moved with her family from North Bulli (Austinmer) to Robbinsville (Thirroul). Alexina’s mother, Christina McKenzie nee McGillivray, was living with Alexina at the Avondale Schoolhouse at the time of her death in 1894 – her husband Alexander Snr had died years earlier in 1875.  

Several years later in 1898, Alexina chose Margaret Hicks, daughter of her cousin Mary Ann Hicks to be a witness at her St Augustine’s Anglican Church Bulli  wedding to Alexander “Alick” Cook. Alick’s brother Alfred Cook was the other witness. In the following year, 1899, Margaret Hicks and Alfred Cook were themselves married – also at St Augustine’s Anglican Bulli. Layer upon layer of connections clearly existed between the daughters of Alexander Snr and Alexander Jnr.

The choice of wedding venue at St Augustine’s Anglican Bulli for Alexina and Alick in 1898 is somewhat surprising in that it did not take place in Avondale in the southern Dapto area of Wollongong, where Alexina lived and also where Alick’s family lived on the Benares property. Alick was indeed the son of a prominent and well respected local resident, William Manning Cook. And there was a Presbyterian church in Dapto, which had existed since 1841, not to mention the main St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Wollongong – so why was the wedding not conducted at either of these churches ? It seems that Alick Cook’s family were Catholic.

So perhaps it was a compromise and more “neutral venue” for their 1898 wedding, facilitated by Henry Hicks, husband of Alexina’s cousin, who was a Warden at the St Augustine’s Anglican Church in Bulli  – which was miles away, well north of Avondale. To have this occur would infer a reasonably close relationship between Alexina and her McKenzie cousin, Mary Ann Hicks. And clearly Alexina did not alienate herself from the Presbyterian Church – her obituary records that she remained active in the Presbyterian church in the Altsonville area until her death -and she and Alick were buried together in the Presbyterian Section of Alstonville Cemetery – images Alexina / Alick.

Alexina Cook nee McKenzie’s Obituary in Full. 

Alexina Cook nee McKenzie Obituary 1926 Lismore via Trove

Alexina Cook nee McKenzie Obituary 1926 Lismore via Trove

And decades later, several weeks before the 73 year-old Alexina passed away in 1926, she had travelled down from their  Albion Farm, Altsonville on the NSW North Coast to Thirroul on the NSW South Coast to visit her 86 year-old cousin Mary Ann Hicks, as was reported in her newspaper obituary. Only the digitisation of newspapers on Trove has enabled these stories to be discovered. 

And again – if only Don McKenzie had access to all of this additional information.


Now as the McKenzie cousins collaborate via web and email technologies hopefully more mysteries of our ancestors will be solved. Kerrie Anne Christian’s husband David, maintains an extensive Genealogy Database – and the McKenzie section is growing rapidly with all the new information now emerging. Information from the McKenzie section will be available on request in the next few week or so.

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One Response to Our Illawarra McKenzie’s in Books

  1. Pingback: March 2017 corrections, additions, DNA test info & Alexina McKenzie at Austinmer etc | The Illawarra McKenzie Family of Ellengowan

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