7. GALT-BARR (1818–1944)

by Alan Craig

In the six previous chapters, we traced the history of five branches of Robyn’s Galt line: Galt, Howie, Littlejohn, Barr and McColl. These families had all emerged in their respective counties: Ayrshire; Perthshire and Kinross; Edinburgh, Islay and Renfrewshire; and Mull, Argyllshire. From about 1818, these individual lines began to migrate to Glasgow, and this is where they finally merged into Robyn’s maternal Galt line. In 1883, some of these families emigrated to Brisbane, Queensland, and this chapter tells that story. 

N.B. — Throughout this text, all of Robyn’s direct ancestors are marked in purple. All blue text [inside brackets] represents additional information or corrections, and did not form part of the original documents. Copies of the original birth, death, marriage and census records are held by me and stored in the Cloud, and can be made available to interested parties. When reproducing the baptismal and marriage entries below, I have kept the original archaic spellings and text, and also laid them out to reflect how they appear in the parish records.

Brisbane, Queensland

S.V. “Southesk” brought John [3] Galt and his family from Glasgow to Brisbane in 1883.

On the 21st of June 1883, John Galt and his wife Christina Barr, along with three children, boarded the S.V. “Southesk” at Glasgow docks for the 104-day journey to the Port of Brisbane. They had paid £14 for an Assisted Passage to the Colony of Queensland, and the rest of their story is seen through the births and deaths of their next six children. It was almost exactly one year after they arrived that they followed family tradition by naming a son “Gabriel”. Nicknamed ‘Gibbie’, he came to this world at the St Kilda Estate, which was in Boggo Road on Brisbane’s south side, and was located in the triangle between what is now Annerley and Ipswich Roads. Boggo Road was also the place where Brisbane Gaol was located from about the 1880s.

Steam Ship “Cloncurry” brought Thomas [2] Barr and his family from London to Brisbane in 1886.

Then, on the 3rd of February 1886, Christina’s parents and her four siblings arrived in the Colony aboard the S.S. “Cloncurry”, after only 64 days at sea — being a steam ship, the “Cloncurry”, which sailed out of London, was quite a bit faster vessel than “Southesk”. Thomas Barr and Ann McColl arrived in Brisbane as ‘remittance’ passengers, where natural born or naturalised persons residing in Queensland could pay for and obtain a passage warrant from the Government for friends or relatives in Europe. The warrant was then forwarded to the friend/relative and, on presentation, the Government representative in Europe would arrange a passage for the emigrant/s. In this case, the warrant was likely purchased by Christina and John Galt.  One interesting thing recorded in the Barr family’s manifest was that their ages on the document were wildly underestimated, and this may be due to the application of age restrictions for some categories of immigrants to  the Colony. 

John and Christina’s next five children were all born between 1886 and 1895 in Brisbane’s Stratton and Fortitude Valley districts. Stratton is mostly now called Newstead, and the whole area was part of the south-side suburb of Bulimba until about World War One. Helen (1886) was born in Victoria Street (now called ‘Doggett Street’); and twins Margaret and Mary (Oct 1888) arrived in Longland Street, which ran across Victoria Street to the north. However, Helen and the younger Margaret both contracted diphtheria while at Longland Street, and died at the Children’s Hospital in October 1890. The family seems to then have moved a few hundred yards south to Ella Street (now part of Fortitude Valley), because their next daughter, Ellen, was born there in August 1892 — tragically, Ellen only lasted a little over a year before succumbing to measles and acute dysentery. John & Christina had their last child, Christina Agnes, at Ella Street in February 1895.

Final years for Thomas [2] Barr and Ann McColl


After only thirteen years in Queensland, Thomas [2] Barr went to join his ancestors, leaving a wife and four children, at least three of them married:

1898 Colony of QUEENSLAND DEATHS: District of Moreton East, Brisbane 1Source: BARR, Thomas [2]; 1898 Colony of Queensland Deaths; Nº 3304; Moreton East, Brisbane..

Thomas [2] Barr, Carter
died: 12th August 1989    at: Thompson Street, Bulimba     age: 66 years
cause: Obstruction of Bowels; Peritonitis (8 days); Exhaustion (24 hours)
doctor: Dr Hirschfield      last attended: 12th August 1898

father: Thomas [1] Barr, Farmer     mother: Jane Morrison

informant: Ann Bradshaw, Daughter    of: Thompson Street, Bulimba
burial: 14th August 1898   at: South Brisbane Cemetery  
undertaker: A.M. Smith    witnesses: R. Shipp; W. Shipp

born: Renfrewshire, Scotland;  13 years in Queensland
married to: Ann McColl     at: Glasgow Scotland      aged: 21 years
issue living: Christina (42); Mary (41); Ann (38); Thomas (33)  
issue deceased: 2 females   [  Jane (i), 1857  &  Jane (ii), 1896 ]  

It was from this document that we were to work out that Thomas and Ann must have had a daughter who had never appeared in the Scottish census records, or on the ship’s manifest when they emigrated — and that was their first child, Jane (i), who died in 1857. Their last child, born in 1866, had also been named Jane (ii), and she had died unmarried, at Thompson Street, from epilepsy in April 1896. The address “Thompson Street, Bulimba” leaves us with a small problem. There is a street of that name in modern-day Bulimba (close to the river), and one at Bowen Hills, about 1.3 km north of where many in the family were living around Longland Street. As mentioned above, before World War One the suburb of Bulimba stretched across the river to encompass what is now Newstead, Teneriffe and parts of Bowen Hills — we can’t yet prove it, but given the proximity to other family addresses at the time, it’s likely to be the one now in Bowen Hills … but Thomas and Ann are both buried in the Balmoral cemetery, which is on the south side. Hmm.

Ann McColl was still at Thompson Street (wherever that was) when she passed away after having been a widow for nearly seven years:

1906 State of QUEENSLAND DEATHS: District of Brisbane 2Source: BARR [McColl], Ann; 1906 State of Queensland Deaths, Nº 6819; Brisbane.

Ann Barr
died: 29 May 1906  at: Thompson Street, Bulimba  age: 77 years
cause: Senectus [old age], Cardiac Failure (about 2 days)
doctor: Dr A. Marks      last attended: 29 May 1906

father: John McCall, Farmer    mother: Christina McLean

informant: James Galt, Grandson     of: Ella Street, Valley

burial: 30 May 1906   at: South Brisbane Cemetery    undertaker: Joseph Cripps
minister: Andrew Gillison, Presbyterian     witnesses: R. Shipp;  W. Gnatz

born: Tobermory [Mull], Scotland; 20 years in Queensland
married to: Thomas [2] Barr  at: Eaglstan [Eaglesham], Scotland  aged: 22 years
issue living: Christina (46); Ann (42); Thomas (38) 
issue deceased: 3 females  [ Jane (i), 1857; Jane (ii), 1896; & Mary bef. 1906 ]

We can deduce from this record that Ann’s daughter Mary had now died, but I have found no record of a marriage or death for her recorded in Queensland. She was still alive when Thomas passed on, so Mary must have died between 1898 and 1906. Also, we have a Presbyterian funeral, but no minister was recorded on her husband’s death. The informant was James Galt, eldest son of her daughter Christina, who herself was just seven years short of becoming a widow.

Children of Thomas [2] Barr and Ann McColl

Jane (i) Barr (c.1854–1857) — was only discovered because her parents’ death certificates had recorded an extra female deceased over the ones we already knew from other records. She could have been born either in Eaglesham or Glasgow, but died at 101 Water Street of  water on the brain (hydrocephalus) aged three.

Christina Barr (1856–1926) — is Robyn’s great-grandmother, and her story is told on this page. However, to summarise, she was born at 101 Water Street in Port Dundas, Glasgow, and married John [3] Galt in 1877 when she was 21. This couple had three children at Port Dundas before migrating to the Colony of Queensland aboard the S.V. “Southesk” in 1883. They had another six children in Brisbane (summarised below), three of those dying young. Christina lost her husband in 1914 while they were living at Ella Street in the Valley, and died 12 years later at Virginia Avenue, Hawthorne, aged 70.

Mary  Barr (1858–c.1906) — was also born in Water Street, Glasgow, and lived with her parents till they migrated to Queensland in 1886 aboard the S.S. “Cloncurry”. In 1881, like her two younger sisters, she was working as a confectioner, but after arriving in Queensland, we have almost no other information about her. She was still alive when her father died in 1898, but had left this world by the time her mother passed in 1906. No marriage or death record of her has been found in Queensland — a mystery. 

Annie Barr (1860–1926) — was the last of her siblings to be born in Water Street, and was a confectioner in the 1881 census. She came to Queensland with her family in 1886, and married an Irish immigrant (and widower) John Thomas Bratshaw in January 1896. This couple had five children, but four died young. Annie was domicile at Burpengary when she died aged 66, only three months after her older sister Christina. Her husband lived another five years, dying aged 67 in 1931. Robyn has two known DNA connections to her descendants

Thomas Barr (1863–1941) — lived the longest of all his siblings. He had been born at Charlotte Street, Port Dundas, and was working as a ‘moulder’ in 1881. Thomas was 22 when the family sailed for Queensland, but at 34 he was in Redfern, Sydney, where he married Charlotte Potts, an immigrant from Edinburgh. This couple had seven children of whom two pre-deceased him. Charlotte died at Brisbane in 1937, aged 61. His death certificate records Thomas as still being a ‘iron moulder’, and he died aged 77 of heart problems at Brisbane Hospital in 1941.

Jane (ii) Barr (1866–1896) — like her only brother, was born in Charlotte Street, Port Dundas, and like two of her sisters was a ‘confectioner’ in the 1881 census. Jane (ii) was 19 when she arrived in Brisbane with her family in 1886, but died aged 30 of epilepsy and a meningitis haemorrhage at Thompson Street in 1896 — she had never married.

Final years for John [3] Galt and Christina Barr


John Galt had been a bricklayer most of his adult life and had been pre-deceased by four of his children when he headed for the Pearly Gates just before the outbreak of World War One:

1914 State of QUEENSLAND DEATHS: District of Brisbane 3Source: GALT, John [3]; 1914 State of Queensland Deaths, Nº 19194 / Extract A37616; Brisbane.

John [3] Galt, Bricklayer
died: 27 March 1914     at: Ella Street, Valley      age: 60 years 11 months years  [62]
cause: Cirrhosis of Liver, Cardiac failure
doctor: Dr G. Herbert Hopkins      last attended: 26 March 1914

father: Gabriel [4] Galt, Engine Fitter    mother: Ellen Littlejohn

informant: T.B. Galt, Son      of: Longland Street, Valley

buried: 28 March 1914  at: South Brisbane Cemetery    undertaker: A.A. Hislop
minister: W.H.W. Lavers, People’s Evangelistic Mission    witnesses: R. Shipp;  J. Laurence

born : Glasgow, Scotland; 31 years in Queensland
married to: Christina Barr at: Glasgow, Scotland   aged: 26 years
issue living: James (36); Thomas (34); Annie (31) [32]; Mary (24 [25]); Christina Agnes (19)
issue deceased: 1 male; 3 females  [ Gabriel, 1913; Helen & Margaret, 1890; Ellen, 1893 ]  

John died relatively young compared to others in his birth family (forgetting the infant mortalities), and “cirrhosis of liver” more than likely indicates he had been a drinker. Robyn’s grandfather Thomas Barr Galt was the informant, and he was still at the Longland Street address, and had been married to Margaret McKerrow Ferguson for more than eight years — and they already had three sons, with a fourth on the way. One of those sons, “Jackie”, had died at age three from lead poisoning after chewing the paint on the iron handrails at his home. Thomas had got most of his siblings ages correct.

The ‘People’s Evangelistic Mission’ was likely a Baptist Church group operating in Fortitude Valley, and that was the religion stated on Christina’s death certificate when she died a little over 12 years later:

1926 State of QUEENSLAND DEATHS: District of Brisbane 4Source: GALT [Barr], Christina; 1926 State of Queensland Deaths; 49512, Extract A37617; Brisbane.

Christina Galt, Widow
died: 24 July 1926    at:  Virginia Avenue, Hawthorne    age:  67 years 
cause: Bronchitis, Pneumonia, Cardiac failure
doctor: Dr L.A> McLean Lilley      last attended: 23 July 1926

father: Thomas [2] Barr, Carter     motherAnn McColl

informant: Thomas Barr Galt, Son    of:  Corner Brookes and Leichhardt Streets, Bowen Hills

burial: 24 July 1926    at:  South Brisbane Cemetery   undertaker: John W. Hislop
minister: Robert Kerr, Baptist    witnesses: 1stWitness; 2ndWitness

born: Glasgow, Scotland; 43 years [in Queensland]
married to: John [3] Galt    at: Glasgow, Scotland    aged: 18 years
issue living: James (46) [48]; Thomas (44) [47]; Annie (40) [45]; Mary (36) [37]; Christina Agnes (30) [31] 
issue deceased: 1 male;  4 [3] females  [ Gabriel, 1913; Helen & Margaret, 1890; Ellen, 1893 ] 

Once again, Robyn’s grandfather is the informant, but the issue deceased should read “3 females”, not “4”, and his siblings ages were not as close as they could have been. By now Thomas and his family have moved to the house in Brookes where Robyn’s mother and her four surviving siblings grew up. This just about brings us to the current generation, and we are only left with doing a summary of the children. At the bottom of this page is a chart that traces the family with its Glasgow and Brisbane connections. 

Children of John [3] Galt and Christina Barr

James Galt (1877–1945) — was conceived out of wedlock, and born at Water Street, Port Dundas, five months after his parents married. He sailed with his parents and two siblings to Queensland in 1883, and had a sterling academic career. In 1893 he won the Gold Lilley Medal of the Brisbane Grammar School for topping the Junior Examination, and became school dux after winning a Queensland Exhibition Scholarship to the school. In 1899, he became a probationer in the Queensland Government Mines Department, and also served in the Department of Public Instruction, Land Tax, Home Department, and Titles’ Office. James married Marion Bethea Johnson in 1929, and died at Baldwin Street, Bulimba in 1945, aged 67.

Thomas Barr Galt (1856–1926) — was Robyn’s grandfather, and the second of three siblings born in Glasgow. He was only four when the family arrived in Brisbane, and was 26 when he married Margaret McKerrow Ferguson in 1905 at Albert Street (now Kyabra Street, Newstead). This couple had five children: Thomas Barr Jnr (1906–1972); John (1907–1911); Robert (1912–1977); Gordon (1914–1985); Agnes McKerrow (1916–1998); and Jean (1920–2010).  Thomas worked as a fitter and a sugar boiler throughout his life, and died at Brookes Street, Bowen Hills, in 1944, aged 64. Thomas is the common ancestor to Robyn’s cousins in the ‘Galt’, ‘Barton’, ‘Walters’ and ‘Schroder’ families and their descendants.

Annie Galt (1881–1964) — was the last of the children to be born in Glasgow, and was only two when they arrived in Brisbane. She married English migrant Ernest George Cocks in 1907, and they had two children. Annie died in 1964 at a convalescent home of heart problems and pneumonia aged 83; she had lived longer than any of her siblings.

Gabriel “Gibbie” Galt (1884–1913) — was the first of John and Christina’s children to be born in Brisbane, coming into this world at Boggo Road, Annerley, not far from Brisbane’s prison. He was an invalid with epilepsy when he passed away at Ella Street in 1913, and was only 28, and had never married. He was buried at South Brisbane Cemetery, Dutton Park

Helen “Nelly” Littlejohn Galt (1886–1890) — had been given her paternal grandmother’s name. She was born in Victoria Street (now Doggett Street, Newstead), but was to die of diphtheria on 3 October 1890; she was three years old, and buried at South Brisbane Cemetery, Dutton Park.

Margaret “Maggie” Galt (1888–1890) — was a twin with Mary (next), and born in Longland Street, Stratton (now Newstead). Like her sister Helen (above), she died of diphtheria at the Children’s Hospital, but three days later on 6 October 1890,  aged two, also buried at South Brisbane Cemetery.

Mary Barr Galt (1888–1968) — was the younger of the twins, but managed to avoid the diphtheria that killed two of her sisters. Mary married Charles David Westphal in 1913 when she was 24. They had three children, and Charles died in 1961 in Brisbane. Mary died in 1968 of a heart attack while in a car in Lytton Road, and was cremated at Mt Thompson Crematorium; she was 80 years old.

Ellen Galt (1892–1893) — was born in Ella Street, but was only 14 months old when she died there of measles and acute dysentery in 1893. She was buried at South Brisbane Cemetery, Dutton Park.

Christina Agne Galt (1895–1969) — was the last child in the family, and also born at Ella Street. In 1923, at 28, she married bank official Arthur Charles Martin at St Patricks R.C. Church in Fortitude Valley. She seems to have moved to Sydney, but we know very little about her, and have no information about the number of children she had. Robyn’s family would occasionally meet her at Hawthorne when she visited Brisbane from Sydney, but more research is needed to fill out the details of her life. She died in 1968, the same year as her older sister Mary, at Newtown in Sydney.

The Galt home on the cnr. of Brookes and Leichhardt Streets, Bowen Hills

Standing L–R: Thomas Barr Galt Jnr (1906–1972);  Agnes McKerrow Galt (1916–1998)

Seated L–R: Robert Galt (1912–1977); Thomas Barr Galt Snr (1879–1944); Gordon Galt (1914–1985);
 Jean (1920–2010); Margaret McKerrow Ferguson  (1879–1934

Inset: John “Jackie” Galt (1906–1911)