Catherine Ross-Sheather nee McKenzie – Berkeley Estate – Bulli – Numbaa – Palmers Island – Maclean

A young Catherine Sheather-Ross nee McKenzie

A young Catherine Ross-Sheather  nee McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie was the sixth child of Alexander McKenzie Jnr and his first wife Ann McLean – her four older brothers had been born on the Isle of Skye before the family emigrated to Australia as Bounty Emigrants on the William Nicol in 1837. She was their second Australian born child after her old sister Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie.

Her parents travelled with other family – Alexander McKenzie Snr and his first wife Flora McKinnon ( who died during the voyage giving birth to triplets)- plus their four older children, Neil McKenzie and wife Christine Robertson nee McKinnon and their eldest child, Mary McKinnon nee McKenzie & her husband Donald McKinnon with their three children. Angus McKenzie and wife Mary McIntosh – parents of Alexander Snr, Alexander Jnr, Neil and Mary also accompanied them to Australia.

The families on the William Nicol were believed  to each have been given a Gaelic Bible by the Edinburgh Bible Society just as they were embarking. An old Gaelic Bible from the Edinburgh Bible Society has been held by the descendants of Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie for many years, and is believed to be the 1837 Bible for Alexander & Ann McKenzie’s family – see below.


Angus, Alexander Snr, Alexander Jnr and Neil all came with their families to the Illawarra and sister Mary McKinnon went to St Vincent County with her family.

Catherine was still very young when her mother Ann McKenzie nee McLean died in 1846, and is possibly buried in an unmarked grave at the old Presbyterian cemetery in Wollongong as were her in-laws, Angus and Mary McKenzie.

Plaque for Angus and Mary McKenzie - Old Presbyterian Cemetery Kenny St Wollongong

Plaque for Angus and Mary McKenzie – Old Presbyterian Cemetery Kenny St Wollongong

Some years later in 1849 her father Alexander McKenzie Jnr remarried to Elizabeth Hanks at Parramatta by the Reverend Tait, the first Presbyterian minister in Wollongong. And more children were born. They moved over to the Crookwell area before moving to the Canowindra area, ie Moorbel aka Belmore locality. Elizabeth died there in 1886 and Alexander in 1891

Audrey Chessell with Kath and Reg Philp

Catherine McKenzie descendants Audrey Chessell and Reg Philp, with his wife, Kath

The research on Catherine McKenzie Ross Sheather has come to me via her descendant Reg Philp, who was fortunate to learn much from the late Ted Finn. Quite a few of us who are carrying on the earlier research of our parents can recall mentions of Ted Finn, and perhaps were shown one of Ted’s long letters to a parent. Even in Cairns, Marilyn McDonald nee Hicks, a descendant of Mary Ann Hicks’ brother in law William Hicks, benefitted from Ted’s help. I was very lucky to be part of a McKenzie family brunch in October 2014 – bringing together descendants of Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie and her sister Catherine Ross Sheather nee McKenzie – including Audrey Chessell nee Ross who could not ever recall meeting one of the descendants of Catherine’s sister Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie. There was lots of reminiscing about Ted Finn of course.


So the work on Catherine’s branch is very much based on the contributions of both Reg

A young Ted Finn - aged 18 years in 1941

A young Ted Finn – aged 18 years in 1941

and Ted, and also by Audrey Chessell nee Ross, with some done by  my husband David Christian and my mother Joan Lois Adams nee Callcott.

From Reg who had many conversations with Ted at Ted’s Punchbowl unit and at Reg’s home …

Ted Finn – A Family Story

“Family historians with an interest in either or both of the Alexander McKenzie and/or Sheather sagas, as these events unfolded from the late 1830s in Australia, at some time or another become aware of the work of Ted Finn. Usually we are grateful to Ted because his assiduous, painstaking and lengthy research has provided us with a wealth of relevant knowledge and smashed many a brick wall for our genealogical work.

Ted died in 2008 having suffered in his last decade or so the dreaded scourge of so many of us oldies – dementia. Until those final years he was the generous donor of the fruits of his work to any who asked for his help, a generosity not always acknowledged publically by those who benefited.

I was one beneficiary. I spent many hours with him and his written materials and naturally enough learned much about our families which has never appeared in print ! I first knew Ted personally some time in the 1990’s …. this gentle half-uncle unexpectedly appeared in my mother’s family circle , utterly unknown to any of us…”

Catherine “Kate” McKenzie (b. May 15 1842 – Berkeley Estate Unanderra Wollongong owned by the Jenkins family – d. December 4 1892 River St Maclean – Cemetery Inscription).

The Congregational Church in Market St Wollongong where Catherine McKenzie and her first husband John Ross were married.

The Congregational Church in Market St Wollongong where Catherine McKenzie and  her first husband John Ross were married. It is the oldest continuing church building in Wollongong.


Catherine “Kate” McKenzie was married [1] in Congregational Church Wollongong (not Bulli) on January 8 1861 to John Ross (b. 1830 Alness Rossshire Scotland – d. January 4 1874 Palmers Island). Note – the Congregational Church is the oldest church building still functioning in Wollongong, and is included on the Wollongong Heritage Trail, along with Wollongong Presbyterian Church sites.

After the death of John Ross, Catherine remarried [2] in the Free Presbyterian Manse Rocky Mouth Maclean on February 1875 to Henry Sheather (b. February 6 1851 in Bolwarra Hunter River – d. July 6 1912 Bellingen) Coffs Harbour.

Prior to her first marriage, Kate had been pursued by James Grant of Eagle Vale, when she lived with her family in Bulli in 1859. Who was James Grant and where was Eagle Vale ?

See the History of Eagle Vale, which indicates it was in the Campbelltown area. The 1872 Grevilles Directory listing for Campbelltown does include a farmer named Lachlan Grant, living at Eagle Vale Campbelltown. Further investigation reveals that there was a Grant family who had emigrated from the Isle of Skye between 1839 & 1841 . Some of the family at least lived at Eagle Vale near CampbelltownNiel Grant and wife Effy Shaw – there were 9 children, the eldest being James Grant, 1836- 1869, and Lachlan Grant, 1846-1912,  was a younger brother of James Grant. So this James Grant may arguably have been the would-be suitor of Catherine McKenzie.

In the 19th Century years, Wollongong residents began to travel to Sydney via Bulli Mountain then onto Appin and Campbelltown by horse drawn coaches and from Campbelltown to Sydney via the Railway. So there was a great deal of contact between Bulli and Appin-Campbelltown residents in those days.

And coincidentally,  Jemima Jenkins, was the owner of Eagle Vale from 1822 until she died in 1842 – her son Robert Jenkins, was the owner of the Berkeley Estate (from 1839), where Catherine was born – according to an archivist at University of Wollongong, Michael Organ.

At the time of her marriage, Catherine McKenzie was living in Bulli, possibly in what was called Old Bulli around near the location of what is now Bulli Public School and the former Bulli Colliery, in the area in the painting below.

An oil painting of Old Bulli believed to date from the early 18070's held in the family of Mary Ann Hics descendants.

An oil painting of Old Bulli believed to date from the early 18070’s – held in the family of Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie’s descendants.

However Kate chose to marry Constable John Ross, a policeman from the NSW South Coast, who was originally from Scotland. There are many references to John Ross giving evidence at trials, including murder trials, to be found in digitised newspapers via Trove.

Initially they lived in the Shoalhaven, it is believed on a leased farm,  and the older children were born at Numbaa. The family then moved north to the Clarence -up to Palmers Islands near Maclean where John Ross became the Publican of the Taloumbi Hotel, Palmers Island.

Following the death of John, Kate acquired the Publican’s licence for 1874 – 1875. In 1875 -1879 her second husband Henry Sheather took over the licence, then surrendered it and reclaimed it in 1883-1884.

Catherine and first husband John Ross’s (b. 1830 Alness Rossshire Scotland – d. January 4 1874 Palmers Island) children & descendants

Catherine Sheather Ross nee McKenzie in later years

Catherine Sheather Ross nee McKenzie in later years

  • Un – named Ross (b 1861 – Numbaa – d. 1861 Numbaa)
  • Isabella Ann Ross (b. August 16 1862 – Numbaa Shoalhaven – d. December 16 1946 Maclean) – married November 2 1882 to Stephen John Bruggy (b. 1858 Maclean – d. 1941 Mclean)
    • John S Bruggy, b. 1884 in Maclean
    • William T Bruggy, b. 1886 in Maclean, d. 1903 in Grafton. 
    • Catherine Anne Bruggy, b. 1889 in Maclean, d. 8-01-1972 in Coolah. 
    • Bertie L Bruggy, b. 1892 in Maclean – married Irene E Gilbert, married 1924 in Grafton. 
    • Nellie M Bruggy, b. 1895 in Maclean –  married Frederick R Blood, married 1920 in Maclean. 
    • Harold Bruggy, b. 1898 in Maclean – married Alice M Baker, married 1922 in Grafton. 
    • Vera D Bruggy, b. 1904 in Maclean. 
  • William Donald Ross (b. February 7 1865 Palmers Island – d. July 23 1868 Palmers Island)
  • Alexander McKenzie Ross (b. October 12 1866  Palmers Island – d. August 3 1954 Grafton)
  •  Christina Mary Ross (b. March 12 1869 Palmers Island – d. July 18 1962 East Roseville Sydney)
  • Catherine Eliza Ross (b. December 3 1871 Palmers Island – d. October 20 1945  Grafton) – married June 17 1896 in Maclean to Charles Ernest Henson
  • John Donald Ross (b. August 24 1873 Palmers Island – d.  September 21 1955 Maroubra) – married July 15 1912 in Cairns to Constance Maud Hort (b. March 27 1880 Tewantin – d. September 21 1975 Sydney). John Ross went with half brother William James Sheather to New Zealand – and they enlisted in the 6th New Zealand Mounted Rifles and fought in the Boer War. Constance had also been married to Frederick Augustus Goode Drew
    • Alexander Donald “Graham” Ross (b. August 15 1914 Herberton Qld – d. January 26 1989 Darwin) – married September 28 1946 in Innisfail to Jeanette Hilda Howard
    • John Robert Edward “Jack” Ross (b. April 11 1916 Herberton Qld  d. March 28 2015 Darwin ) – married to Rayma Maude Harpley nee Marshall
    • Robert Arthur Ross (b. September 6 1917 Tumoulin Qld – d. September 21 1917 Tumoulin – buried September 1917 Tumoulin)
    • Arthur Hort Ross (b. October 1 1918 Herberton Qld – d. after 1973) – married to Betty Patricia Packer
    • Constance Maude “Connie” Ross (b. July 30 1920 Herberton Qld  – 23.2. d. 2015 Sydney) married to Ronald Joseph Duff
    • Audrey Berenice Ross (b. October 24 1922 Herberton Qld ) married August 30 1952 to Kenneth Alsop Chessell
Three generations of Catherine McKenzie's descendants with Karen's partner Pat Giles (coincidentally he and Kerrie Anne Christian were 1st year Engineering Uni mates)

Audrey Chessell nee Ross at left

Catherine and second husband Henry Sheather’s (b. February 6 1851 in Bolwarra Hunter River – d. July 6 1912 Bellingen) Coffs Harbour) children & descendants.  Additionally there is a comprehensive amount of information on Sheather’s at the Fairhall website – ie click here for Sheather. 

  • William James Sheather (b. October 26 1875 Palmers Island – d. December 10 1948 Honolulu Hawaii – buried Diamond Head Hawaii) – married 1902 in Auckland New Zealand to Nancy Catherine “Annie” Caffrey. William went with half brother John Ross to New Zealand – and they enlisted in the 6th New Zealand Mounted Rifles and fought in the Boer War – Service Record via New Zealand Archives – see McKenzie Family Military Service web page.
    • Cathryn Kathryn Margaret Sheather married Joseph Jose Macario
      • Joseph Ignatius Macario married Natridad (Nettie) Jusus
        • Son Macario
  • Thomas Henry “Tom” Sheather (b. September 2 1877 Palmers Island – d. July 13 1961 Lismore Base Hospital – buried July 14  East Lismore Cemetery. Married [1] October 6 1900 in Maclean to Ellen Theresa Davis (d. 1900 Maclean)- Married [2] June 15 1904 in Residence of Miss Ross Bacon St Grafton to Edith May Thompson (b. – d. December 26 1915) – Married [3] June 20 1920 in RC Church to Bonalbo to Ellen Mary Finn (d. 1941 – buried Rookwood Cemetery 1941)
    • Male – (b. 1900 Maclean – d 1900 Maclean)
    • Grace Lilian Sheather (b. October 1904 Ulmarra NSW – d. March 20 1905 Ulmarra – buried March 21 1905 Presbyterian Cemetery Ulmarra
    • Catherine May Sheather (b. May 22 1906 Grafton – d. December 16 1988 Lismore – Buried December 19 1988 Lawn Cemetery Lismore  – married June 22 1932 in St John’s Presbyterian Church Coraki to Murray Sharpe White
    • Clara Phyllis  “Phyl” Sheather (b. March 16 1908 Grafton – d. February 18 1984 Albury – buried February 21 Albury 1984) – Married [1] Unknown – Married [2] Unknown – Married [3] November 20 1930 in Albury to Royal “Roy” Virgo – Married [4] October 18 1939 in Albury to Edward Reynolds “Ted” Winter
    • Muriel “Grace” Sheather  (b. April 27 1910 in Bellingen Coffs Harbour- d. November 24 2003 Albury – buried November 27 2003 Lawn Cemetery Albury) – married June 25 1931 St Matthews C of E Albury to Arthur Hedley Petts
    • Daphne Joyce Sheather (b. November 22 1915 Lismore – d. March 24 2008 St Josephs Nursing Home Lismore – buried March 27 2008 Lawn Cemetery Lismore) – married January 24 1938 in Methodist Church Coraki to Charles Edward Philp (b. August 23 1901 Bungawalbyn NSW – d. November 20 1967 Campbell Hospital Coraki – buried November 20 1967 Lawn Cemetery Lismore
      • 6 children including Reg
Catherine McKenzie descendant Reg Philp with wife Kath

Reg Philp with wife Kath (a Clan McLeod descendant)

  • Unnamed Female Sheather
  • Edward Thomas “Ted” Sheather Finn (b. September 21 1922 Tenterfield – d. 2008) – never married
  • Robert Benjamin Sheather (b. August 6 1880 Palmers Island – d. June 11 1946 Whakatane New Zealand – buried June 20 Wakatane) – married August 31 1910 in Gisbourne New Zealand to to Margaret Emma “May” Davies (b. 1887 Gisborne – d. June 24 1959 Whakatane Hospital)
    • Edna Liel Sheather (b. August 7 1907  New Zealand – d. 1986 Whakatane) married Leonard Maurice Martin (b. 1891 – Chatham Islands New Zealand – d.)
      • 6 children
    • Dulcie Maude Sheather (b. November 26 1911 New Zealand – d. March 25 1971)
    • Daphne Phyllis Sheather (b. November 28 1914 New Zealand – d. )
    • Harold Henry Sheather (b. March 28 1920 Whakatane New Zealand – d. )
  • Archibald Hugh “Artie” Sheather (b. December 29 1882 Palmers Island – d. August 12 1918 France – Killed in Action – buried Heath Cemetery Harbonnieres, France, plot 11 row H grave 17)  – see McKenzie Family Military Service web page.
Archibald Sheather - Australian War Memorial  Roll of Honour

Archibald Sheather – Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour

  • Edward John “Ted” Sheather (b. September 26 1884 in Palmers Island – d. October 20 1918 France – Killed in Action – October 21 1918 remembered at Villers Bretonneux Military Cemetery Fouilloy France plot xvii row AA grave 9)  – see McKenzie Family Military Service web page.
Ted Sheather - Australian War Memorial Honour Roll

Ted Sheather – Australian War Memorial  Roll of Honour

 Photos of the Isle of Sky by Catherine’s descendant Reg Philp and wife Kath, a Clan McLeod descendant.


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6 Responses to Catherine Ross-Sheather nee McKenzie – Berkeley Estate – Bulli – Numbaa – Palmers Island – Maclean

  1. Karen Sanders says:

    Hi Kerrie – what an incredible amount of research has gone into the Mackenzies’ story here. Hats off to you !
    I am a great great great granddaughter of Angus and Mary, coming down from Alexander Jnr / Ann McLean and their daughter Catherine Mackenzie – Ross (Mary Ann Hicks’ younger sister). Catherine’s son John Donald Ross was my grandfather and my Mum Audrey has spent many years on this research.
    As I live nearby, I often wonder about the exact location of Ellengowan in Fairy Meadow – any clues?
    Cheers, Karen (Sanders, nee Chessell)

  2. Hey Karen – thanks for so much for organising that wonderful McKenzie brunch in Ocotber 2014 !

  3. Jade Hazell says:

    Hi Kerrie, My grandmother Irene Holm was very good friends of Audrey and Connie Ross’, she lived with them during the war. I have photos you may be interested in, please feel free to contact me on

  4. Sharon Clark says:

    Hi Kerrie
    I have come upon your site by chance and am amazed at all the detail. What a great effort.

    I hope you don’t mind a few extra details and/or corrections.

    My mother was Connie Duff aka Constance Maude “Connie” Ross. Maude ended with an “e.” Grandma’s name (Constance Maud Hort) was spelt without the “e” as in Maud.

    Mum passed away on February 23, 2015 in Sydney. Uncle Jack (John Robert Edward “Jack” Ross) died in Darwin on March 28, 2015. His funeral coincided with his 99th birthday, which was April 10, 2015.

    I don’t recall the date of death for Uncle Arthur – Arthur Hort Ross (b. October 1 1918 Herberton Qld – d. October 13 1951 Darwin) but he was certainly still living in 1973, when my brothers went on holiday to Darwin. Auntie Audrey – Audrey Berenice Ross – whom I was named after, could no doubt tell you Uncle Arthur’s correct date of death.

    I note cousin Karen’s input here. She, cousin Jane (her younger sister), and I stay in touch via Facebook.

    Sharon Clark (Sharon Berenice Duff)

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