Janet Miller & Robert Boyle

Posted by on January 17, 2020 in Community & Family History, Featured Flag | 14 comments

In addition to my personal research I need to send out a big thank you to Queensland cousins who shared info and photos and to the people who responded to queries on Facebook via ‘Lost Fassifern Valley & Pioneering Families‘.

Janet Fitzgerald Miller was born in 1801 on family property ‘Whitelea’ or “Whitelee’ in Cardross Parish, Dunbartonshire Scotland. She was baptized 30 Nov 1801 in that Parish. Janet was the youngest child of William Millar (1763-abt 1833) and Elizabeth Gilmour (abt 1765-1839) and came to Canada with her family on the George Canning in 1821, arriving at Quebec 1 June 1821. She traveled to Upper Canada with her parents who settled on Lot 15 Concession 1, Lanark Township on 15 July 1821. The Miller family were part of the group known as Lanark Society Settlers, a group sponsored to populate the areas north of the St. Lawrence River following the War of 1812 to help ward off the threat of additional invasion by the Americans.

On 4 March 1825 she married a neighbour, Robert Hendry Boyle, in Lanark Township, Lanark County, Upper Canada and moved to her new home on Lot 6 Concession 2 Lanark Township.

Robert Hendry Boyle

Robert was baptized 3 Sep 1795 in Campsie, Stirlingshire, Scotland and the earliest record in Canada found to date, reflects his enrollment on the Nominal Roll of the 2nd Lanark Militia, 3rd Company – Col Wm Marshall, Lt Col Wm Morris, Maj Roderick Matheson, and Capt John McKay – #55 Robert Boyle, age 33. Robert is not listed as a ‘Lanark Society Settler’ nor could he be found among the military settlers who receive land grants. It is therefore assumed that he came to Canada as an unassisted settler, prior to 1822. Robert’s sister Janet 1787) married Thomas Bulloch (1782), both of Campsie, Stirlingshire, Scotland on 18 May 1806. They emigrated to Canada in 1820 on the ship Commerce and settled in Lanark Township near Hopetown. Robert may have traveled with them.

In Jun 1825, Robert purchased the northeast half of Lanark Township Concession 2 Lot 6 from Henry Glass, 100 acres for L 3.

On 8 Oct 1834, Robert purchased the northeast half of Lanark Township Concession 2 Lot 5, from James Hall, Sr, 100 acres for L 14.

1881 Map of Properties Lanark Twp
1881 map showing lands of the Robert Boyle in Canada

Between 1831 and 1834 Robert is listed as a member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Lanark Village. The Church Records begin in 1830 and the baptisms of William, 11 Feb 1831, and John Hendry Boyle, 7 Feb 1834 are recorded in these church records. Baptismal records were not found for Catherine and Mary and may have lost.

Among the Robert Mason Papers, originally held by my family but now in the collection of the Lanark Village Museum, a record of purchases from a shoemaker in Lanark Village contains several notations assigned to Robert Boyle in 1934-1935. Robert seems to have been hiring day labour, possibly to clear land purchased in 1834.  It is interesting to note that he is recorded as a ‘tanner’ in immigration records when travelling to Australia as there are indications here that he may have had a budding interest in that business at this time.

Date Purchase Value Settled by Amount
Robert Boyle 1 Apr 1834 Account Balance 20/  /    
Robert Boyle 7 Apr 1834     wheat & corn 2/03/04
Robert Boyle 9 Apr 1834     cords, bark & hides 18/19/09
Robert Boyle 18 Apr 1834 9 days work 1/02/06    
Robert Boyle 25 Apr 1834 1 day’s fencing /02/06    
Robert Boyle 6 May 1834 3 day’s work /07/06    
Robert Boyle 5 Jun 1834 10 day’s work 1/10/ 10 bushel potatoes 0/19/0
Robert Boyle 14 Jun 1834     soles for boots 0/09/0
Robert Boyle 30 Jun 1834 chopping 2 acres 3/05/0 pair of shoes 0/10/0
Robert Boyle 5 Jul 1834 3 day’s work 0/07/06 201 pounds of hide 5/0/07
Robert Boyle 9 Jul 1834 1 day’s work 0/02/06    
Robert Boyle 26 Jul 1834 8 day’s work 0/02/06    
Robert Boyle 7 Aug 1834 4 day’s work 0/10/0    
Robert Boyle 16 Aug 1834 5 day’s work 0/12/06    
Robert Boyle 19 Aug 1834 1 day’s work 0/02/06    
Robert Boyle 24 Aug 1834 1 day’s work /02/06    
Robert Boyle 2 Sep 1834 2 1/2 days work 0/06/03    
Robert Boyle 15 Sep 1834 31 1/2 of stuff   by oil  
Robert Boyle 25 Sep 1834 1/2 Kipskin 0/03/09 William Robertson  
Robert Boyle 21 Oct 1834 to T. McMillan 11/01/11    
Robert Boyle 5 Nov 1834     Harness & lamb 4/11/09
Robert Boyle 23 Jan 1835 pair shoes 0/10/06    
Robert Boyle 2 Feb 1835 to Robert Dunn 0/04/06    
Robert Boyle 2 Feb 1835 to John Alston 0/05/06    
Robert Boyle 28 Feb 1835 to William Gourley 0/02/11    
Robert Boyle 10 Mar 1835 to John Mason 0/09/02    
Robert Boyle 10 Mar 1835 to William Craig 0/10/0    
Robert Boyle 6 Apr 1835 3 days chopping /07/06    
Robert Boyle 17 Jun 1835 17 pounds leather 1/05/06    
Robert Boyle 2 Nov 1835 mending shoe 0/01/10    

On 7 Aug 1839, Robert purchased the Southwest portion of Concession 2 Lot 6 from James Blackwood, rounding out the adjoining properties he controlled to approximately 300 acres. James Blackwood held a mortgage on this property that was discharged 16 Oct 1847. In 1848 he sold 58 acres of this property to Simon Alcorn who purchased additional Boyle family holdings after they left for Australia.

In 1850 Robert is listed in the Perth Courier as one of the founding members of the management committee of the Lanark Agricultural Society.

By the time of the 1851 (Jan 1852) census, Robert and Janet’s family had grown to include Catherine (25 Sep 1826), Mary (20 Dec 1829), William (11 Feb 1831), John (7 Feb 1834), Robert (abt 1837), David (31 Dec 1837), James (16 Apr 1840) and Mungo (14 Oct 1845). The family was living on Concession 2 Lot 6, just outside the village of Lanark. At this time Robert’s occupation was listed as ‘farmer’ and the family’s religion is listed as the Free Church, indication that Robert was not ‘traditional’ in his religious beliefs. Also listed as part of the household are:

  1. David McIntosh 24 (1828) Scotland;
  2. Robert Newen (Noonan) 17 (1835) Scotland – Residence Darling Twp;
  3. James Watt 21 (1831) Canada -Residence Dalhousie;
  4. Robert Miller 17 (1835) – Residence Bathurst,
  5. George Miller 15 (1837) – Residence Bathurst;
  6. James Miller 17 (1835 – Residence Rodden. James was the son of John Miller and Margaret Blair who moved from Lanark County to Rawdon Township, Hastings County in the 1830s. He was apprenticed to a cabinet maker in Lanark at the time.

In 1861, the Robert Boyle household is listed as located on Lanark Township Concession 2 Lot 6, whole or 200 acres. Although Robert is identified as a farmer. Robert’s location close to Lanark, with both Gilles and Caldwell families living nearby, , probably allowed him to provide farm produce destined for the timber shanties of this area.  By this time trades such as tanning and leather work, blacksmithing and cooperage which were emerging nearby and were needed in support of the shanties. Neighbours included John Gillis, lumber merchant, James Caldwell, lumber merchant, both of whom had timber rights along the Mississippi and Madawaska waterways and beyond.

On 15 December 1858, Robert purchased Concession 2 Lot 5 and assigned part of it to David Boyle who was later to marry Agnes or ‘Nancy’ Jamieson on 7 September 1865 in Lanark Township. Robert sold his retained southeast portion of this property, along with his other holdings on 17 December 1864, just prior to departure for Australia. David sold his, probably via an agent, the northeast acreage along with other retained Boyle property, 16 Sep 1868.

In 1861, Catherine, Mary, John, Robert, David, and Mungo are still living with their parents. The family religion is now listed as Congregational. Robert is listed as yeoman. The neighbours include William Alcorn who was to purchase much of the Boyle holdings when they left for Australia.

Robert appears to have been a hard worker and ‘go-getter’. Under his guidance his family prospered in the ‘wilds of Lanark’, with the frequent outcropping of rock and dips in the land filled with swamp. His sons appear to have learned the trade of lumbering at an early age, beginning with work to clear the family land holdings. The older sons seem to have gained the skills of a lumberjack and James, who arrived in Queensland a year before the main family group earned his living in the harvesting of timber during his early years in Queensland.

Janet appears to have been a kindly woman who loved children. She may possibly have served as a midwife in the area. Robert and Janet adopted John Mason Miller, a twin, son of Thomas Miller and Elizabeth Mason, born 9 Jan 1850. His mother died shortly after his birth. Earlier, they fostered Robert Miller (1826), son of James Millar (1794), Janet’s brother, and his wife Janet Stewart (1798) who died in childbirth. Janet Boyle would have been nursing Catherine, her first born, at that time and able to feed the newborn. James remarried about 1828 and reclaimed his son at that time.

“Robert Miller son of James Miller and his wife Janet Stewart was born upon the night of thursday the 21st of December1826 and his mother dieing through the night, he was taken from his ‘father’s’ house upon sabath the 24th and arived in my house on the 25th to be taken care of as one of my own family on account of Dr. Gemel objecting to his Father keeping him for baptism unless that he afterwards took him home and my wife and me stating to his Father that after nursing the child we would not like to part with him and his Father agreed to let us keep him, and in conseqency was presented by me for baptism on the sabath the 14th of Jany 1827 and God out of his infinet grace enabled me to perform the duties encombent upon me to bring him & the rest of my family up in the fear of the Lord. R.B.

R.B. James Miller getting married a second time became desireous to have his son Robert home, but on account of engagements I came under at his baptism I objected unless Dr. Gemel and his elders thought that I could do it. Accordingly at a meeting in dallhousey they took into consideration and agreeable to my wishes.

James publicly agreed to take him as his son.”

From notation in Robert Boyle’s Bible found in a shed at Kelvin Grove

Robert Boyle Bible pt 1
First section of page from Robert Boyle’s bible
Robert Boyle Bible pt 2
Second portion of page from Robert Boyle’s bible

Robert Hendry Boyle was 71 years of age and Janet Fitzgerald Miller 65 years when they emigrated to Queensland Australia in 1865 after forty-six years in Canada. Robert made a purchase of land as recently as 1858 and they were leaders within the community. What prompted such a drastic change? Sometime shortly after this purchase, William Henry Boyle, their oldest son, was sent to Scotland to settle affairs pertaining to family property there and then he was to go to Queensland to explore prospects for the family in Australia.

Much of Robert and Janet’s story can be told through their children some who arrived with Janet and Robert on the vessel ‘The Golden City’ or in the years immediately before this. Robert and Janet sailed from London England on 23 Oct 1865 and arrived in Brisbane on 5 Feb 1866. They probably left Lanark County shortly after David’s marriage in September 1865.

Description of the voyage on the Golden City

Robert died in 1881 and Janet in 1884. They are buried in the Harrisville Cemetery.

Robert Boyle 1795-1881 Janet Miller 1801-1884 Harrisville Cemetery, Queensland, Australia

Kelvin Grove Farm

Kelvin Grove, the home of Robert Boyle and Janet Miller was still intact until damaged by fire about the year 2000. The Boyles arrived in Brisbane just as large tracts of land were made available to ‘selectors’ and by choosing property in Ipswich Reserve they not only obtained productive land but proximity to Brisbane markets and shipping. It is believed that the Boyles arrived in the area by travelling from Brisbane to Ipswich by boat on the Brisbane and Bemmer rivers. Robert and Janet “took up” 120 acres of land, part of the 11,000 acres that made up the Ipswich Reserve, calling their property “Kelvin Grove” after their home region in Scotland. Other members of the family ‘took up’ parcels of land nearby.

The Boyle farm was named “Kelvin Grove Farm” after the family’s home district in Scotland. The first home at Kelvin Grove is described as two adjoining red cedar slab-walled huts, roofed in shingles. The family home that replaced the first shelter was built on the site previously occupied by the two slab huts. In an 1975 description of Kelvin Grove Farm, found in Looking Back Along the Fassifern Valley by Harry Pugsley, we find the following description.

Kelvin Grove Farm Ipswich Reserve
Sketch of Kelvin Grove Farm provided by a cousin

“This house is one of the oldest in Harrisville. It was partly built of cedar hauled from the Great Dividing Range and pit sawn on the property. One bedroom was constructed entirely of cedar with boards 30 cm (12 in.) wide, 2.5 cm (1 in.) thick and laid horizontally.  The remainder of the house is built of hardwood weatherboards, lined with 15 cm (6 In) pine boards. Altogether, the house contains a large lounge-dining room, five bedrooms, bathroom and a semi-detached roomy kitchen. There are wide airy verandahs on three sides. At one time the home was surrounded by colourful gardens, in which grew varieties of English climbing roses, seasonal flowers, fruit trees and passion fruit vines. A bush house set in one corner of the gardens has long since fallen into a state of disrepair. Growing alongside a dividing fence leading away from the house is a row of trees planted by Miss Olive Boyle when a young girl. Among them are three date palms and two Moreton Bay fig trees. Beneath the branches of a giant pepperina tree stands a long narrow shed built with bush timber. In it is a cart and a heavy dray withy an axle made of wood. A sulky standing nearby was once the family’s means of transport. Pieces of harness hang on the walls. Close by is the milking shed, where once a herd of from 40 to 50 A.I.S.[1] dairy cows was hand milked twice a day. The milking shed is surrounded by a post and slab rail fence, weather beaten and leaning out of line. Today, “Kelvin Grove Farm”, consists of 142 ha (335 acres). It is used solely for grazing. Modern amenities such as electric power, telephone, television and refrigeration are part of everyday life on “Kelvin Grove Farm”, a far cry from the pioneering days of 1865. A bitumen road passes the property, which lies approximately 29 km (18 miles) from Ipswich on the Peak Crossing – Harrisville Road.”

Looking Back Along the Fassifern Valley by Harry Pugsley, 1975
kelvin grove farm - Robert Boyle homestead
Kelvin Grove Farm – Robert Boyle Homestead

[1] The Illawarra cattle breed was started by Australian dairymen improved their herd by introducing the bloodlines of superior cattle from a number of dairy breeds, especially the Ayrshire, Devon and Milking Shorthorn. The name Illawarra cattle was abbreviated from the earlier Australian Illawarra Shorthorn (AIS), and named after Illawarra, New South Wales where they developed from original Shorthorn imports and other breeds. Wickipedia

In 1872, Robert gave an acre of his land for the Hillgrove School. The land reverted to the farm when the school closed after many years of use. Nearby was a ‘pre-postal service’ post office operated by Robert Boyle.

“Mr. Boyle takes charge of the letters, but as he is only an amateur postmaster it would be manifestly unjust to criticize too severely his personification of the character. We may remark, however, that it is hardly in accordance with the generally conceived notions of postal propriety to spread out before the applicant for letters the whole contents of ” the mail,” and tell him to ” see if there is anything for him.”

Rambles in West Moreton, 1872

The Boyle family grew cotton until the 1880s and for a while tried flax. Their flax is thought to be the first grown in the valley.

The America Civil war was raging and there was no cotton going from America to England. With no work in the British mills, people were starving. Thus, the British government made the decision to encourage immigration to Queensland and to grow cotton on the newly settled land. Early descriptions of the settlement indicate that those located on flat land suffered from floods and cotton crops were not a sure thing. Those located on more rolling land tended to prosper more.

Fassifern Valley

The Fassifern Valley is part of the Scenic Rim in southeast Queensland. Ipswich was first settled about 1827 so was not virgin territory but did contain large parcels of unclaimed land when the Boyles arrived. The Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1860 and the Agricultural Reserves Act 1863 made land available for selection at the fixed price of one pound per acre. Six months residence was mandatory, and improvements included one sixth of the area to be cultivated and fencing constructed before a certificate of fulfillment of conditions could be issued.


Ipswich, originally known by the name of Limekiln, was described in the 1870’s as “one of the most thriving towns in Queensland, and, till the opening of the railway, almost rivaled Brisbane in business importance. It is pleasantly situated on the slopes of three hills which drain into the Bremer River. In 1872 almost half of the cultivated land was used to produce cotton. Cotton gins, often with a nearby blacksmith shop and general store, were the first businesses to emerge. A railway was soon built for the transport of goods and people.

Fassifern Valley, Ipswich,
1890 map Moreton South with Boyle Family sites

The Boyles in Australia through the Lives of the Children

Some General Locations where Boyle family members lived

Catherine Hendry Boyle, (1826) known sometimes as ‘Rattie’ and sometimes as ‘Kate’, the first born of Robert and Janet, was single when she arrived in Brisbane at the age of forty. She married John Murray in Harrisville, Moreton District on 28 Sep 1869, at the age of 43. They had one son who was killed by a ‘buck jumper’. John had several children from a previous marriage to Ann McCrobie.

Mary Boyle, (1828), also known as ‘May’ was single when she arrived in Brisbane, aged 38, and married John Verdon of Sligo, Ireland, in 1870 at the age of 42. They did not have any children. John was a cook on various ships and later a rancher in New South Wales. He is buried in Rookwood, Cumberland Council, New South Wales in 1921. Mary returned to Harrisville at some point and in the 1905 Electoral Rolls is listed as living at the Munvilla Hotel, Harrisville where she died in 1907.

William Henry Boyle (1831) was not listed with the Boyle family In the 1861 Lanark Township census but he was listed that year at Drumfarm Hill, Campsie Parish, Stirlingshire, Scotland as a lodger in the home of Walter and Mary Knox. His occupation is given as carpenter. William Henry Boyle, the oldest son of Robert and Janet, was sent to Scotland to settle affairs pertaining to family property and then to go to Queensland to explore prospects for the family in Australia. The proceeds from the sale of family property may have provided funds for William to become established in Australia.

Some family lore suggested that William, as the eldest son, absconded with family funds. Speculation over the years also suggested that he remained in Canada or perhaps moved to the United States. Until recently, some of the family descendants claimed no knowledge of his whereabouts. Discovery of the census records in Scotland and information from other accounts in Queensland newspapers and written by descendants provides an alternate, and documented scenario.

Records recently discovered show he died in Ingham, Herbert District on the northern Queensland coast near the Great Barrier Reef, about 1500 km north of Ipswich. Ingham was founded in 1864 and when William landed in Brisbane in 1862, he may have been directed to look in the Herbert Region for land.

In 1862 William is identified a farmer located at Brisbane who sold a piece of property that year. In 1867 he leased another parcel. Without accessing the original documents ($), the location of these properties is unknown.

In 1864, a year before Robert and Janet arrived, William married Elizabeth McEwan in Queensland and they had six children, all born in Ingham, Herbert District, Queensland. This indicates that they were among the original settlers of the area. Elizabeth McEwan, his wife, died 23 Jan 1891 in Harrisville, suggesting that they maintained ties in the Ipswich Reserve area.

In his daughter Mary’s obituary, William is credited with bringing the first cattle over the range from Cardwell to the Herbert District, probably in 1869. In 1870, a newspaper article identifies William as one of the original settlers in the Herbert River District in northern Queensland.

In 1903 and 1905, the Electoral Rolls indicate he was living in Charters Towers, Kennedy Division, a gold mining centre in northern Queensland, and his occupation is listed as miner.

John Hendry Boyle (1834) is listed in the 1861 census as ‘out of the township’, with a notation of Lavant Township. Lavant Township was just beginning to be opened to timber harvesting at this time and a high percentage of lots were controlled by Alexander Caldwell circa 1860. The majority of the remaining lots were not crown grants until the later 1870s or 1880’s. This suggests that he is in the employ of the Caldwells, a giant of early timber harvesting that was opening timber rights in the area at this time. He married Margaret McMangle in May 1864 Lanark prior to leaving for Australia. John was a farmer in the Harrisville area, Queensland and died intestate. In the newspaper postings his land is identified as land portions 145 and 148, Churchill County, Parish of Flinders, Queensland, Australia.

John is buried in Harrisville but Margaret, who lived for another 32 years, is buried in Brisbane where she operated a boarding house after his death. Together they had fifteen children, four of whom died as infants. Little more could be found about John’s life.

Robert Hendry or Henry Boyle (1835) is listed as from ‘out of township’ in 1861. His location is indicated as Dalhousie Township. He married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Skiffington at St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Perth, Ontario in Lanark County 26 September 1865. Their son James was born about 1865, possibly on the trip to Australia. They traveled on the vessel ‘Empress of the Seas’ from London, England.

In 1874 Robert is listed in a Directory for the Fassifern Valley. In July 1882 he is listed as a Justice of the Peace. In 1896 the Queensland Post Office directory lists him as a Farmer in the Harrisville area. In 1903 and 1905 he is living on Arthur Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane and his occupation is “independent means”. In 1913 Henry and Elizabeth are living with his daughter Sophia 20 Byram St, New Farm, Fortitude Valley. In 1915 is occupation is listed as ‘labourer’ in South Brisbane and he is living on the corner of Reid and Hawthorne Street. In 1916 he is living in Oxley, Brisbane South. On 6 February 1920 he is admitted to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum with a chest injury and senility. He is discharged in September and there is a notation on his file – “no property, no money”. Robert and Elizabeth had ten children. Henry died in June 1923 and Elizabeth died 1926.

Drusella Boyle, raised by Robert and Janet in Queensland, was born 1863 out of wedlock in Lanark Township. She is believed to be a daughter of Robert Boyle and Elizabeth McMangle, sister of Margaret who married John Henry Boyle. Both the McMangle and Skiffington families lived on Concession one of Dalhousie township, on lots eight and two southwest respectively, close to his parent’s home lot 6 concession 2 Lanark Township. There would be many opportunities for the families to interact. Family lore tells us that Elizabeth’s sister (Margaret?) handed the baby to Mrs. Boyle on the dock and told her that the child “Would be better off with her”. Drusella was raised by the Boyles in Queensland, married James Daniel Smith and they had a family of seven in Queensland.

David Miller Boyle (1837) was married 7 Sep 1865 to Agnes “Nancy” Jamieson in Lanark Township, Lanark County, Ontario. A few years prior (1858) Lot 5 Concession 2 Lanark Township was purchase and part of this lot was in David’s name. This property was sold to William Alcorn in September 1868. David and Nancy took up land in West Moreton when they arrived in Queensland. David may have not had resources to invest or had a problem with alcohol. David was declared insolvent by 1871. Court appearances relating to the insolvency continued into the 1890s. Agnes Jamieson his wife died in 1892 following the birth of their youngest daughter Agnes May Boyle. One child, David, dies of a snake bite at the age of three and two other children die at an early age.

In 1903-1905 David is found in Glenapp, Oxley Division where his son Thomas Hendry Boyle has settled and where they are listed as farmers. In 1908 we find him in the police court records where an order is issued banning the sale of intoxicating drinks to him. In 1919 the electoral directories list both David and his son Thomas in both in Beaudesert, Scenic Rim District where he was listed as a farmer Aspley, and Nundah, Lilley District where David is listed as a carpenter, suggesting that the family moved during that year. David died in 1920 and is buried at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, Redland City where he had been admitted with an enlarged prostrate and bladder and senile decay. His lifetime occupations are listed as building, farming and bridge building.

 An extract from the Fassifern Guardian 30 Sep 1931[1] gives us the following information:

“David Boyle took up the land which Mr. Ellemore has now also. The children were Clarence, David, Tom, Harriett, Lizzie, Ada and Andrew. When David was three years old he was bitten by a snake and died. Two of the other children died later. Mr. Boyle was a very tall man and did a lot of pit sawing and carpentering. He built the Congregational Church and Goan’s Hotel[2] at Coulson. When he sold his farm to Mr Harry Muller of Obum Obum[3], he went to live at Clan’s blacksmith’s shop at the foot of McCourt’s Hill. Mr. Gus Lewald now owns that property.”

Recorded as found in the Fassifern Guardian, 30 Sep 1931 but I was unable to confirm this.

In 1858, James Boyle (1840) and Ann Jane McIntyre (1839-1858), had a son, Alfred Boyle (McIntyre) 1858, who was raised by his grandparents, Alexander “Sandy” McIntyre (1814) and Jane Eunice Yuill (1817) in Canada. Ann died 25 Jun 1858 in Middleville at the age of nineteen. No record of a marriage has been found but may be among Congregational records.

James does not appear in the 1861 census and James’ location is unknown until he arrives in Queensland Australia, travelling on the ship ‘Light of the Age’, as an assisted immigrant, and arrived in Brisbane 27 Jan 1864, a year before his parents. Less than a month later, on 29 February 1864 he married Margaret Sophia Wilson, possibly the daughter of William Wilson who owned large tracts of land on the Ipswich Reserve. James sailed from Brisbane to Sydney, New South Wales as a deckhand on the Prince Consort (out of Liverpool), arriving on 15 Jun 1864. He may have worked as a sailor for a time to earn a living.

James and Margaret’s first two children were born in Harrisville, but their third child may have been born in the Pullen Creek area. James is listed in a directory in Pullen Creek, Moggill in 1874 and research of Pullen Creek during settlement times indicate that he may have been drawn to this area where his timber harvesting experience would be put to good use. By the 1890’s and into the 1900s James and Margaret are operating a hotel at Munbilla. James was an avid horse breeder during this time. It is not clear whether James and Margaret farmed near the Boyle family and raised his children in the Ipswich area before moving to Munbilla but Margaret died in Ipswich in 1907. James died in 1917 in Junction Park, a remote area about six hours north of Brisbane by today’s travel time.

Mungo Alexander Boyle (1845), the youngest of Robert and Janet’s children farmed on the original Boyle homestead, ‘Kelvin Grove’ and, with his wife Sarah Ann Watson, raised eleven children there.

One of his descendants indicated:

“My grandfather Boyle had a severe accident. He was using an adze to trim a log and a chip of wood stuck to the corner of the adze and caused it to glance off and nearly severed his foot across the instep. Remarkably, I think there was an old army doctor in Ipswich and he came out and did what he could but grandfather always had a lame foot, his foot wouldn’t go flat on the ground, so he always was handicapped by his damaged foot.”

Provided by a grandchild

In addition to helping their own children become established in Queensland, Robert and Janet raised Drusella, believed to be the daughter of Robert Hendry (Henry) Boyle Jr and Elizabeth McMangle and John Mason Miller (1850), one of the twins born to Thomas Miller and Elizabeth Mason who died following childbirth. John and his twin brother Andrew Burns Miller wrote frequently but did see each other again after John left for Australia with the Boyles at the age of fifteen in 1865. His story will be told with his birth family.

[1] I was unable to find the original article. This was passed to me by a relative.

[2] One of. the oldest pioneers of the Fassifern district,’ Mr. John Goan, passed away on Saturday morning at

his residence, “Lilybrook” Coulson, at the age of 86 years… Mr. Goan erected the first hotel at Teviotville, which was burnt after he had kept it for five and a half years and had sold it. Fassifern Pioneer, Saturday 16 May 1936 p 11

[3]“Obum Obum, the place with the improbable name, is a district near Kalbar. It is said that its Yugarapul meaning is ‘hard stone’. It is a place we own because of a Rock that is higher than we are, a Stone which the builders rejected who has become our Cornerstone. We do many things there, but mostly we just pay attention.”


As always, I welcome feedback and if you find info that conflicts with this story, please let me know. I have documented sources for my information.


  1. Hi Diane.

    My name is Laura June Ellis (nee Sharpe). I came upon your website by chance while Googling my Great, Great, Great Grandfather on my mother’s side, David Miller Boyle.

    I just wanted to say thank you for making your research and website ‘public’ and available to people such as myself. I have really enjoyed reading about my Boyle family ancestors and history. Thank you so much for all the time and energy you have put into creating this website.

    If you are interested, I have a few family photos of my grandmother, Mary Ellen Boyle, who was David Miller Boyle’s grand daughter.

    Many thanks and kind regards,

    Laura Ellis.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I am hoping to gather my research on the family together and to publish it as a whole. Pictures and stories are always welcome. I am working on another family group at the moment but the ‘Miller’ story is high on my list to complete. Most of my records are on my computer so not shared at the moment. Have you done DNA? If so we should check for a match.
      Sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been ill but hoping to get back to short stories on the blog.
      Diane Miller Duncan

    • David Miller Boyle is my Great Grandfather

  2. Hi Diane, My parents are just purchasing a portion of the property which looks to be Kelvin Grove. I have another lady helping me with the history of the Harrisville area, but there are several R.H. Boyle names, I’m confused which one is the original owner of the land. Can you direct me anywhere further than the information you have outlined in your article please? Also Can you tell me how to obtain the 1890 Map of south Moreton that you have shown here please? Thanks, Gina

    • Robert Hendry Boyle 1795-1881 and Janet Miller 1801-1884 are buried in the Harrisville cemetery and they were the head of the Boyle family who settled on Kelvin Grove. Some of their family stayed in the Harrisville area. W.H. Boyle 1831-1905, their eldest son, settled in the Herbert District. There is also a Robert Henry Boyle 1867-1902, grandson, for whom I only have ‘Queensland’ recorded. He was the son of Robert Hendry Boyle 1835-1923 and Elizabeth Skiffington 1846-1926. There is also a William Henry Boyle 1874-1964, another grandson married to Catherine Theaker 1880-1959 who I have recorded living in the Harrisville area. This is a work in progress that I need to return to! As a result I would appreciate you sharing what you have discovered via email. I will send you some info separately so that you have my email. In the meantime, I think this info may be of assistance. Can you access land and property records?

      For the moment, I am having trouble locating the source of the map. I know that it turned up in some on-line research but I have had some computer issues that has resulted in files being more difficult to locate. When I find it, I will share.
      Who are you working with on the history of Harrisville? I may be able to provide other info.
      Diane Miller Duncan

    • Did any of these Millers end up in George county Mississippi or do you know?

      • Hmmmm? Most of our American cousins are in the midwest and northern states but I seem to recall some from recent generations in that area – often pursuing military and other careers. Send me more info and I will look.

  3. Diane, can you please tell me the significance of the 2 farms (Portion 59 and 62) shaded in your map. At one time , my great grandfather’s brother Albert Oakhill owned that farm before selling and moving to Ipswich.

    • I’ve sent an email with the info but will record it here also. John Verdon, who married Mary Boyle owned this land at the time this map was produced about 1890.

  4. Diane, on your map of the district, the Maffat farm “Obum Obum ” is the large 8 sided farm over the word “of” in parish of Fassifern. Obum Obum school is near the south west corner and Harry (Hermann ) Muller’s farm is further west again. I’m trying to isolate the section on my map and post it to the Fassifern site.

  5. Diane, the area of Obum Obum near Kalbar Queensland has no connection to Oban Station in NW Qld

    • I couldn’t find anything on Obum Obum. Can you help me with this?

      • Yes, I have a little info gathered as my family bought half of the original Muller selection in 1972. i will gather what I have and post.
        I love your blog. Dawn.

        • That would be greatly appreciated! Glad you are enjoying the blog!


  1. Diane Duncan Historian — Almonte | lindaseccaspina - […] Two years ago or more I thought I had taken research on this family as far as necessary. I…

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