Ellen Orr
John Orr Jr.

John Orr Jr
and his siblings travelled to Australia with their parents, John and Janet (née Orr) Orr, on the 482-ton Hero of Malown (Captain George Grundy). The ship set out with 244 [check] emigrants on board sailed from Liverpool on 20 November 1838 and, having reached the Cape of Good Hope on 12 February 1839, arrived in Port Jackson on 1 April 1839. After a distressing voyage during which two adults and 20 children died (largely from measles and smallpox), the vessel was quarantined until the evening of 24 April. There were also ten births en route, three of them in port.

Shipping records list the names and ages of the Orr family members at the time of their arrival as follows: John (farm labourer, 38), Janet (farm servant, 36), Jane (house servant, 16), John (15), James (12), William (10), Margaret (7), Jessie (4), Mary Mayne (6 weeks). The last mentioned child was born at sea on 15 March 1839—probably with the assistance of Mary Mayne, one of the few cabin passengers. The same records indicate that both parents were literate, that all members of the family were adherents of the Church of Scotland faith, and that John and Janet’s respective native places were Irvine and Dundonald, both in Ayrshire. Another son, George Gipps (b. 5 March 1843), was added to the family in Australia.

According to her death notice in the Moreton Bay Courier, Janet Orr passed away on 16 July 1856 when she and her husband were living in Stanley Quay, Stanley Street, South Brisbane. She was the second daughter of James and Jane (née Galt) Orr of ‘Towerlands, and Slane Castle, near Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, and the sister of the controversial Reverend George Orr of the Free Church of Scotland.

John Orr Sr, the son of John and Margaret (née Young) Orr, was a native of Knowehead in the parish of Dundonald, Scotland. He worked as a gamekeeper and farmer at Cooper’s Plains where, having been cared for in his last illness by Dr Albert Emmelhainz, he died on 11 August 1871 aged 82 years. His remains were interred in the Presbyterian Burial Ground (presumably at Paddington) three days later. The Reverend Charles Ogg led the service which was certified by George Barney Petrie (undertaker) and witnessed by William Baynes.

John Orr Jr married Ellen Alston, the daughter of John (a Scottish farmer) and his wife (née Richardson?) Alston, in 1846 as the following entry in the Sydney Morning Herald records:


At No. 139, Brickfield Hill, on the 2nd of January [1846], by the Reverend Thomas Mowbray, Mr John Orr, junior, to Miss Ellen Alston, both of Sydney.

At that time Ellen was living in George Street, Sydney, and John in Sussex Street. The wedding took place in St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Macquarie Street shortly after Ellen’s arrival in Australia. The witnesses to the service were Dr John Carruthers of Kent Street and James Henry of Princes Street.

Ellen Orr died on 31 July 1883 in the Brisbane Hospital at the age of 66. Her remains were interred in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery two days later in a morning service conducted by the Reverend DT Mitchell of the Presbyterian Church in the presence of Thomas Boyland and William T Willgoss (witnesses). There were no children of her marriage to John.

John Orr Jr, ‘a settler’, passed away at Brown’s Plains on 18 October 1891 at the age of ‘67 years, 6 months, 26 days’ and was laid to rest in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery. Present in an official capacity at the burial were the Reverend John Stewart Pollock of the Presbyterian Church and, as witnesses, Thomas Webber and William Orr, the brother of the deceased. Thomas Webber also certified the interment. The informant of John’s death was his nephew George Boyland.

The main beneficiaries of John Orr Jr’s estate were his nieces, both born in Berrima, New South Wales—Ellen Florence Alston (b. 1875), the daughter of John and Emma (née Woodger) Alston (m. 1860), and Barbara Alston (b. 1868), the daughter of William and Flora (née Campbell) Alston (m. 1859). Alfred Ansell and George Alexander Grenier were the executors of his will which was dated 1 February 1889. A codicil dated 31 August 1891, also bequeathed a one-acre block to the Salvation Army and a 39-acre property with a two-roomed house on it to his brother William.