THE McARTHUR SISTERS IN AUSTRALIA

The story of Donald Gordon McArthur and David Charteris McArthur is told on the page McArthur Family in Australia.

Each of the four McArthur girls made good marriages shortly after arriving in Sydney as did Jane Kirby. This is their story.


Margaret Campbell Macarthur
married Dr. David Keith Ballow in October 1837 at St Andrews Scots Church, Sydney.

David Ballow was at the time in government employ as Assistant Medical Officer at Invermein in the Hunter Valley. He had received a Diploma of Medicine from the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh in 1832 and came to Australia in 1834. He was born in 1804 at Montrose, Scotland. Margaret was only 16 years old when they married.

Margaret McArthur marriage

in 1838 David Ballow was transferred to Moreton Bay ( Brisbane) as Colonial Assistant Surgeon ( i.e. the senior government surgeon at Moreton Bay) and from 1849 in private practice and working as resident surgeon at the new Brisbane General Hospital and serving as magistrate and district coroner.

He and wife Margaret lived in the Surgeon's House beside the Convict Hospital on North Quay ( beside the river) both of which are shown in the sketch below made in about 1850. This is taken from the recent book , "Historic Brisbane" by Susanna and Jake de Vrie where the Surgeon's residence is described as "convict built with thick brick walls and hand-made cedar doors and window frames. As with most of Brisbane's early buildings these no longer exist.

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As detailed in the following extract from the Australian Dictionary of Biography he unfortunately died the next year.

On 8 August 1850 the Emigrant, a Colonial Land and Emigration Commission ship, arrived in Moreton Bay with sixty-four cases of typhus fever on board. By the time she was put in quarantine at Dunwich, fourteen deaths had already occurred and the ship's surgeon was among the increasing number of victims. Dr Mallon, the health officer, took charge but he was stricken. Ballow then undertook the responsibilities of surgeon superintendent at the quarantine station. He too took the infection and died on 29 September 1850. A tablet on Ballow Chambers, Wickham Terrace, and a tombstone at Dunwich commemorate this 'gallant and jovial Scotsman'.

There were no children of the marriage. Margaret moved to live beside her sister Elizabeth Gallie at Portland where she made her will in 1868 making the recently widowed Elizabeth her sole beneficiary, then moved with Elizabeth to Chapel St, St Kilda where she died in 1876.

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At left is the plaque in Wickham Terrace, at the entrance to Ballow Chambers which was built in 1924.

An identical plaque is in the possession of the Anglican Church in which Dr Ballow was actively involved during his time in Brisbane; it was on the wall of St Johns Cathedral, Brisbane but has now been relegated to St Martins House basement.

Below is the memorial inscription on the Ballow grave at Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island - note that it was placed there by his widow, Margaret.

Also Ballow Chambers and St Andrews Scots Church Sydney ( since demolished),



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There were 46 deaths from Typhus on "The Emigrant". Starting in 1847 typhus fever had been present in epidemic conditions firstly in Ireland in 1847 but then spreading to the British mainland - commented on in a letter from Rev William Docker to his brother Joseph and taking the life of their nephew William Docker Kilburn. 



Agnes Campbell Macarthur
married John W Smith, Deputy Assistant Commissary-General at Sydney in 1827.


J.W.Smith was born in New York as a British citizen and arrived in Australia in 1812 with his parents and sister. As the years progressed he gradually rose through the ranks of the military until he retired in 1864 as Commissary-General-in-Chief of the British Army based in London as Sir John W. Smith, K.C.B. The Commissariat was responsible for all provisions to army personnel apart from munitions.

They had a number of children born in various parts of the world as revealed by the UK 1861 / 1871 census and Australian birth records:
Jemima C. Smith: 1839, Sydney
Agnes C. 1842, Norfolk Island ( apparently died in infancy)
Agnes C. 1843, Norfolk Island
Elizabeth F. 1845, Norfolk Island
William Trevelyan 1846, Hobart – died at Canton in 1850
Charles Frederick 1849, - died at Canton in 1850
Mary M. 1853, Corfu, Greece
Arthur M. 1856, Turkey

Mary apparently married Sgt. Alfred Darkin of 2nd btn Grenadier Guards, in London around 1875 and they had at least 2 children. I have no information on the rest of the Smith family.


Elizabeth Francis Gordon Macarthur married her cousin David Wemyss Gallie in 1842 at St John's church, Launceston.

Elizabeth had travelled to Port Phillip on the "John Barry" in April 1839 leaving Sydney on the 21st and arriving exactly one week later, together with her mother Elizabeth Macarthur (nee Wemyss) and cousin Anna Marie Gallie.

David Gallie was the son of Hugh Gallie and Robina Wemyss , sister of Elizabeth Wemyss. In March 1843 David Gallie with wife, sister and mother, sailed for Sydney where he was appointed Accountant to the Bank of Australasia and in 1853 became founding manager of the ANZ bank at Portland Victoria. His sister Anna Marie married Edward Henty who with his brothers took their sheep in 1834 by ship from Launceston to Portland to become the first permanent settlers in Victoria. I have not been able to confirm it but it is likely that David Gallie was working for the Union Bank in Launceston at the time of his marriage. The Union Bank later merged with the Bank of Australasia.

Robina Wemyss Gallie was living with Edward and Anna Marie Henty at the time of her death in February 1865 and is buried at Portland. David Gallie died in January 1868 and is buried beside his mother. Robina's headstone below is inscribed:

Sacred to the memory of ROBIN SKENE WEMYSS relict of the late HUGH GALLIE OF Rossshire and third daughter of DAVID WEMYSS of Lathalland Fifeshire Scotland
who departed this life at the residence of her son-in-law EDWARD HENTY of Burswood Portland on the 18th of February 1865


David Gallie's widow Elizabeth (nee Macarthur) moved to Chapel St, St Kilda ( together with her sister Margaret Ballow, see above) where she named her property “Lathallan” after her mother's birthplace in Scotland. She died in 1892 leaving her property worth 2,250 pounds and other assets worth 6,519 pounds to her various nephews and nieces ( in total worth about $600,000 in today’s money).
The beneficiaries mentioned are:
sister: Isabella Darke
nephews: John Charles Darke, David Henry Macarthur Darke and William Floyd Darke
nieces: Julie Ann Bateman and Margaret Ballow Best
grand nieces: Ruby Isabella Darke and Effie Glassford

There were no children of the Gallie marriage.

Edward Henty and his brothers took up extensive pastureland in western Victoria inland from Portland including the "Muntham" estate. There is a plaque on the Western highway east of Casterton commemorating Edward and Anna Marie Henty as pioneers.


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Isabella Macarthur
married William Wedge Darke, Assistant Government Surveyor in Sydney in February 1838.

William was born in Surrey, England in 1810 to John Darke and Elizabeth Wedge.

He arrived in Van Diemens Land from England in 1827 with his parents and siblings Henry and Elizabeth, on board the "George Home". His brother John Charles Darke had already emigrated in April 1824 on the "Heroine", together with his uncles, John Helder Wedge and Edward Davy Wedge.

Isabella McA_Darke marriage


William had some training in surveying before leaving England and initially set up as a private surveyor and land agent in Hobart but in 1834 moved to Sydney where there were more opportunities. In September 1834 he was appointed clerk in the Surveyor general's office in Sydney - a similar position to that obtained by Donald G McArthur after his arrival in 1835. In September 1835 they both sailed with Robert Russell in the Stirlingshire to carry out the initial survey work in the new settlement at Port Phillip - William had at this stage been promoted and is mentioned by name in official reports of the expedition whereas Donald is not. In September 1836 he was appointed Assistant Surveyor under Robert Hoddle newly appointed as Surveyor of the Port Phillip District.


He sailed to Sydney for his wedding with Isabella McArthur and after a short period the couple returned to Melbourne where he continued his survey work.



He worked particularly around the area we know as Port Melbourne but which at the time was called Sandridge. The ridge of sand dunes which gave rise to the name, have now largely been removed.

They lived in a 2 room wooden caravan – with all the comforts of home including a piano – which was moved by a team of bullocks to wherever William’s survey work took him, known as "Darke's Ark". This was documented in this letter to The Argus in 1913 by their daughter Mary Wedge Grant. (right).

It was also the subject of a painting by Wibraham Liardet which is in the LaTrobe library of the State Library of Victoria - see below. Liardet came to Australia in 1839 with his wife and family and settled at Sandridge where he built and operated a hotel. He did a number of paintings of early Melbourne.


Note: this copy of the Liardet painting and some of the information relating to the Darke and Wedge families was supplied to me by Tom Chapman, great grandson of William Darke and Isabella McArthur, and his wife Wendy of South Australia.

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After returning to Sydney in 1843, William continued to work with the government survey department for some years and was involved with surveying some suburbs of Sydney before moving north to the Clarence River area. At some stage he resigned his post and became a private licensed surveyor but continuing to work in the same area. The family's movements can be deduced from the location of the children's births listed below.

The work of the surveyor was, and continues to be, vital to the development of a structured society with defined land ownership - either private or public. Clearly the demand for such work was particularly pressing In the context of a new and expanding colony.

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Of course, valuable as it was to the British settlers, the work of the surveyors was also integral to the dispossession of the aboriginal inhabitants - every new piece of land surveyed and subsequently occupied represented a loss to the original occupants.

This inevitably led to conflict between the indigenous inhabitants and the newcomers and frequently resulted in tragic outcomes as exemplified by the death of J.C.Darke.

John Charles Darke (below), William's older brother, was also a surveyor and in 1838 took up a position in South Australia. While leading an expedition looking for good farming land north-west of Port Lincoln, in the Gawler Ranges, he was speared by aboriginals and died as a result, see attached report.

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William and John Darke gained their initial interest in surveying from their Wedge family connection. Their uncle, John Helder Wedge was a surveyor and explorer and the son of a surveyor, Charles Wedge of Cambridge, England. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography ( online) "Wedge led many arduous expeditions through heavily timbered mountainous country in the northeast and central highlands of Van Diemen's Land". He also explored areas around the Derwent, Gordon and Huon Rivers.

He was a friend of John Batman and in 1835 did the survey work for the Port Phillip Association that facilitated the acquiring of 600,000 acres of land from the Aboriginals. Note the gravestone below states "(he) BRAVED WITH SUCCESSFUL COURAGE THE DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS WHICH BESET THE PATH OF PIONEERS". One of the principal dangers was of course the likelihood of reprisals by the indigenous population in retaliation for the usurping of their land and food sources - Adam Courtnay's book "The Ghost and the Bounty Hunter" makes it clear that John Wedge along with John Batman were enthusiastic leaders in this enterprise as was John Pascoe Fawkner.

John Wedge returned to Tasmania where he ran sheep on his property "Leighlands" on the Midland Highway between Perth and Campbell Town. He died in 1872 and is buried at in the Perth cemetery south of Launceston - see headstone below. HIs brother Edward Davy Wedge took up land at Werribee in the Port Phillip District. In 1852 the Werribee River flooded and Edward with his wife and daughter were drowned after their house was inundated.

John Darke, father of William Wedge Darke, had a property about 10 Km further south at Snake Plains ( now known as Powranna).
The records of the Darke children’s births show that William and Isabella and their family moved around the region north of Sydney.

The births recorded on the Ancestry database are:

1839 Isabella Wemyss Darke at Melbourne
1841 Elizabeth L. at Melbourne
1842 Eliz Mary Louise at Melbourne
1843 Fanny McArthur at Sydney
1845 Mary Wedge at Sydney
1846 William Floyd at Sydney
1848 Margaret Ballow at Sydney
1849 John C at Clarence River
1851 Julia Ann at Port Macquarie
1852 David McArthur at Port Macquarie
1854 Anna M at Port Macquarie - died aged 4 months
1857 Ada J D at Macleay River
1862 Caroline A at Grafton
1862 Charles at Grafton

That is 14 children over 23 years ! But Isabella lived to the ripe old age of 90, dying in 1905 in Melbourne – as seen above her sister Elizabeth Gallie left her a life interest in the house at Chapel St, St Kilda.

The family left the Grafton area in 1862, eventually settling in Melbourne where William died in 1890.


William and Isabella are buried in the St Kilda Cemetery alongside Isabella's sisters Margaret Ballow and Elizabeth Gallie.


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There were numerous descendants from the above mentioned Darke family. The marriages and offspring which have been identified either from Ancestry records or from newspaper notices, are as follows ( note – some spellings may be wrong as the Ancestry records are manually transcribed from handwritten official records) :

Isabella Wemyss Darke m. Wm. Leeming Tyndall in 1860 at Grafton –
Children : 1861 John Wedge Tindal at Cranbourne, Vict
1862 Clarence Edward Tindell at Richmond Vict
1865 Dolores Ann Tyndall at Melbourne
1866 Flor May Tyndall at Ballarat East

Eliz Louisa Marg Darke m. Wm. Leeming Tyndall in 1885 at Victoria ( presumably sister Isabella had died)

Fanny McArthur Darke m. Henry Thomas Phillips, pastoralist, in 1873 at Hackney, Sth Aust. –
Children: 1874 Alice Isabel Phillips at Glenelg, Sth. Australia
1876 Edith Floyd Phillips at Pekina Station, Sth. Australia
1878 Samuel Gallie Phillips at Menindee, NSW
1885 Fanny at Menindee, NSW

Mary Wedge Darke m. John Wedge in 1867 at Victoria –
Children: 1868 John Arthur Wedge at Yarra, Vict
1870 Louise Alleford Gazely Wedge at Melbourne, Vict
1872 Charles Edward Lyndhurst Wedge at Richmond, Vict
Mary Wedge Wedge, nee Darke, m. James Grant in 1884 at Victoria

William Floyd Darke m. Agnes Jane Parker in 1888 at Victoria –
Children: none found

John C. Darke m. Fanny Rigby in 1893 at Walcha, NSW
Children: none found

Julia Ann Darke m. James Leechmann Glassford in October 1872 at East Melbourne,Victoria –
Children: 1873 Effie Floyd Glassford at Warracknabeal, Vict ( see EFGG’s will)
1875 Henry Darke Glassford at Warracknabeal, Vict
mentioned in Elizabeth Gallie’s will as Julie Ann Bateman – did she remarry ?

David McArthur Henry Darke m. Mary Catherine Ann Richards in 1886 at Victoria –
Children: 1887 Ruby Isabel McArthur Darke at Horsham, Vict ( see EFGG’s will)
1890 Frances Kildahl Darke at Port Fairy, Vict
1892 Mary Charteris Darke at Port Fairy, Vict
1894 Percy Henry Beresford Darke at Port Fairy, Vict

Margaret Ballow Darke m. Richard Best in 1869 at Ballarat, Victoria –
Children: 1870 Margaret Ethel Best at ?
1871 Francis Elizabeth Best at Pleasant Creek, Vict.( near Stawell)
1873 Florence Edith Best at Pleasant Creek, Vict
1874 Ada Rosalie at ? – died aged 6 mths
1875 Marion Isabel Best at Stamford, Vict – died aged 3 years
1877 Minnie Julia Bearic at Smythesdale, Vict ( near Ballarat)
Margaret Ballow Best, nee Darke, died in 1942 at Glebe, NSW

The last 2 children, the twins Caroline Agnes and Charles sadly died on 4th May 1882 just 5 weeks after their birth on 3rd April.


Next Generation and Beyond

  • The Vale family of East Gippsland:

Julia Ann Darke and James Leechmann Glassford
( see above) married in 1872 and had 2 children – Effie Floyd and Henry Darke Glassford, known as Harry.

In 1901 Harry married Fanny Unthank in Perth Western Australia where he worked with the railways. They had 2 sons – James Leonard and Stanley Bryce. By 1914 Harry no longer appears on the electoral roll and Fanny is working as a housekeeper at various addresses in northern Victoria. By 1931 she has settled in Melbourne and Stanley is at the same address in 1931 ( at Northcote) through to 1937. Then Stanley is alone at Ripponlea until a last entry in 1972. Clearly Stanley diid not marry and there is no further record of Leonard. Thus no further descendants from this family.

In September 1905 Effie Glassford married Henry Ernest Vale at All Saints, St Kilda. They had 3 children, all at St Kilda, Victoria –
Norman Henry Vale 1908
Olive Floyd Vale 1907
Dorothy Gwyneth Vale 1910
There is no apparent marriage record for Olive or Gwyneth on ancestry.com.au.

Norman Henry lived with his parents at Carlisle Ave. St Kilda and then briefly at Armadale/ Caulfield until his marriage in January 1950 to Agnes Lilian Carr, only child of Michael and Agnes Carr of Dutson, near Sale, Victoria. They married at the Presbyterian church, Alma Rd, St Kilda and moved into their new home in Waverley Rd, E. Malvern. All this was duly reported in “Jill’s Jottings” in the Gippsland Times. By 1954 they were living at Dutson.

There were at least 3 children of this marriage:
Kenneth Norman
Geoffrey Roger
Russell Edmund.
All three are listed as living in the Dutson area on the 1980 electoral roll.

Also reported in the Gippsland Times of October 1954 is the tragic and accidental fatal shooting of Norman Henry’s father-in-law, Michael Carr while shooting ducks on the Vale farm.


The Chapmans of South Australia

Samuel Gallie Phillips, son of Fanny McArthur Darke and Henry Thomas Phillips, continued the family grazing business and married firstly Ada Lawrence and then in 1911 Bessie Williams Field.

Ruth Gallie Phillips ( 1914 - 2005) was the only child of Samuel Phillips and Betty Field. She married Douglas Lincoln Chapman ( 1911 - 1965), a company director and property developer.

Their son Thomas Lincoln Chapman and wife Wendy ( Cook ) are well known property developers in South Australia.



  • Darke family in Tasmania


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As mentioned above the Darke family initially came to Van Diemen's Land but William and brother John soon departed for the mainland. However the parents of William Wedge Darke - John and Elizabeth - remained in Van Diemen's Land, sheep farming in the Midlands between Perth and Campbell Town.

They died in 1845 and 1858 respectively. John's death was registered at Campbell Town,Tasmania and it is likely they are both buried there although I have found no confirmation of this.

Below are 2 reports showing (1) Elizabeth's death in 1853 at the age of 75 years ( born 1778) and (2) a robbery in December 1845 of the Darke's store in Campbell Town but mentioning Mrs Darke's residence at Snake Plains and that Mr Darke had died shortly after the robbery.

Also the official record of John's death on December 22, 1845, gentleman, aged 81 and showing cause of death as "a gradual decay of (nature ?)".



William Wedge Darke's brother Henry was born in 1813 in England and tragically died just after his 17th birthday in Van Diemen's Land in a shooting accident.

We have no information on whether his sister Elizabeth married or when she died.

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There are a number of other Darkes buried around the Campbell Town area and in fact still some living in Tasmania but we have no evidence that these are related to the above family.