James McCullough Family Home Page


Welcome to the JAMES McCULLOUGH Family Home Page - Ireland to Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia in 1855

James McCullough Pioneer of Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia

James McCullough, a Farmer, [ref. above photo] was born in the townland of Tullynagee, Parish of Kilmood, Co. Down, Ireland in 1820. He was baptised at the Killinchy Presbyterian Church 21/2/1820, and was the Son of Thomas McCullough, Farmer, of Tullynagee and Jennie nee Abernethy. James married Elinor Moorhead, daughter of David Moorhead, Farmer, of Tullynagee and Jane nee Lowry, at the Killinchy Presbyterian Church 18/8/1843.

James and Elinor, with their children, emigrated to Australia in 1854 via Liverpool on the maiden voyage of the "Black Ball Line" Clipper "James Baines" arriving in Hobson Bay, Melbourne on the12th. Febarury 1855. The voyage took 63 days which was a new record from Liverpool to Melbourne. [For more information click "The James Baines" in the side menu]]

James and Elinor had five children prior to leaving Ireland namely- David Moorhead 1844-1849, buried in the Kilmood Graveyard, Co.Down, with Elinor's parents, namely David Moorhead 1788-1857 and Jane [nee Lowry] 1788-1867. Thomas 1846-1926, Hugh 1848-1905, David Moorhead 1849-1926 and John 1851-1935. Their four surviving sons accompanied them on the voyage. Shortly after their arrival in Melbourne James and his family made their way to the Warrnambool area in South West Victoria. James and his family initially stayed with William Jellie 1823-1877 and his wife Joanna [nee Cassady], William was the son of James' Aunt, Margaret Stevenson Jellie [nee McCullough] and  James Jellie, who had a property named "Tarhook" on the  Merri River at Cassady's Bridge, near the small village of Warrnambool. James and Elinor later took up land holding near Dennington a few miles from Warrnambool, he named it "Sea View". Highly satisfied with his farming venture, he and Elinor remained there for the rest of their long lives, eighty seven and ninty years respectively.

James and Elinor [also known as Ellen to family and friends] bore four more children namely- Margaret Jane Jellie1856-1865, Mary 1857-1865, Agnes 1860-1865 and William James 1862-1951. As can be seen James and Elinor lost three more children at a young age, they all died within a couple weeks of each other during the Diptheria epidemic of 1865.




Monday 5 November,1906.

McCullough - on the 3rd inst., at her residence, Sea View, near Dennington, Ellen, wife of James McCullough. Aged 87 years. No flowers.

[the funeral will leave her late residence at one p.m. this day [Monday] for the Warrnambool cemetery.]

Friday 12 August, 1910.

McCullough - on the 11th inst., at ‘Sea View’, near Dennington, James McCullough, in his 91st year. A colonist of 56 years. No flowers by request.

[the funeral will leave his late residence to-morrow [Saturday] afternoon at two o’clock for the Warrnambool cemetery.]

Saturday 13 August, 1910

The death of the late James McCullough, of ‘Sea View’, near Dennington, which took place on Thursday, removes one of the old pioneers of the sterling type that built up the prosperity and pushed forward the development of the western district. The late Mr. McCullough, like many other well known pioneers of this district, came from the north of Ireland, and was related through ancestors in the old country to several local pioneer families. His father Captain Thomas McCullough, was an officer in the Gordon Yeomanry, and took part in much active service for the empire. The birthplace of the pioneer who has just passed away was County Down, and he was born in the year 1820. At the age of 35, and towards the end of the year 1855, he left home in the famous clipper sailing ship "James Bains" with his wife and young family of four sons, Thomas, Hugh, David and John. In February, 1856, he landed at Warrnambool, then a very small village surrounded by thickly timbered bush. He took up land near Warrnambool, and had resided continuously within three miles of the town for 45 years. Although he reached the advanced age of over 90 years, he retained complete possession of his faculties until the last, and, until he lost his wife, who passed away four years ago, enjoyed a remarkable degree of physical health and strength. From the time of the death of the Mrs. McCullough, however, he began to grow feeble, and of late his health had become very poor. The deceased never took an active part in municipal or any other department of public life. But he took a live interest in prompting the welfare of the district. His industry and good judgement in his pastoral and farming operations resulted very successfully, and he was highly esteemed amongst his many friends for his integrity and kindly disposition. He leaves four surviving sons, Messrs. Thomas, David, John and William McCullough, out of a family of ten, which included three daughters, who died in 1865, all within a period of 14 days. This sad bereavement was the result of a diphtheria epidemic in the district. The funeral will leave the deceased’s residence this afternoon at two o’clock for the Warrnambool cemetery.

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The south west of Victoria plays an important part in the early history and development of Victoria as a European settlement. The sea ports of Port Fairy and Portland were amongst the earliest pioneered areas in Victoria by European settlers, with land settlement dating back to the early 1830's.

From the late 1820's to the early 1830's, whaling and sealing where the primary industries along the southern coast of Victoria. At the same time there was a want for new lands by the farmers and settlers in New South Wales and Tasmania, which fueled interest in the exploration of the lands available in Victoria. This interest was fed by glowing accounts of the whalers and sealers on their return to Tasmania after the completion of each season, and by some European exploration parties.

A few brave pioneers tentatively settled along the coast line of Portland and Port Fairy in the early 1830's. Along with the main industry of whaling and sealing, they carved out stations [or runs] from the surrounding natural bush, by which they supplemented their incomes with bark stripping, skin trading, sheep and cattle farming, and from the nearby coastline, whale bone and seashell exports. Some of the whaling and sealing gang members were employed during the off season in these industries. Gradually further settlement was attracted by the needs of these pioneers, squatters and labourers. Exploration of the area was continued by plucky adventurers.

The seeds of settlement where sown, and with the founding of the major towns of Melbourne and Geelong, the growth and development of Victoria as a colony was steadily under way.

The area in and around Port Fairy, attracted major investors / merchants in the late 1830's and early 1840's, with the likes of such men as John Cox, John Griffiths and Michael Connelly. All were early shipping, whaling and merchants with substantial history of trade in New South Wales and Tasmania. There was also James Atkinson, Robert. T. Campbell and William Rutledge, three men with a history of trade and commerce in the Colony of New South Wales. These last three mentioned had been magistrates / merchants / traders or owners of substantial tracts of land in N.S.W., all had large grants of land in other areas of Victoria. All three purchased large tracts of land surrounding the port of Port Fairy in the 1840's and 1850's, effectively land locking the port. They also obtained the extending areas of land to the nearby town of Warrnambool and quite extensively into the surrounds.

Atkinson and Rutledge made the most of special survey grants allocated by the crown in the early 1840's, purchasing their special surveys though this system Rutledge obtained 5210 acres which was basically from Port Fairy to Warrnambool, and Atkinson overlayed his survey on the existing port and settlement of Port Fairy and renamed it Belfast.

It was partly through the industry of these men that the areas around Warrnambool and Port Fairy, through to Portland, became extensively settled in the 1840's and 50's. There was a good demand for farmers, shepherds, labourers and tradesmen in the area, and emigration was especially encouraged by Rutledge, Campbell and Atkinson and their agents. They where loud in their insistence that many of the immigrants bought out or sponsored into Australia - though the bounty and emigrant schemes- be sent on to Portland and Warrnambool.

On arrival in Australia these new immigrants would be sent either by inter colonial vessels or overland to Warrnambool [settled in 1847] and Port Fairy, where their skills where often eagerly sought after, as many of the early tradesmen and farmers, who had improved conditions successfully for themselves, moved onto their own farms , or took their skills / trades to developing places where higher prices would be paid for their labour.

[Note: James Atkinson was the Sydney solicitor referred to in the history of James Jellie 1787-1862, and Margaret Stevenson McCullough, who arrived in Belfast [Port Fairy] in late 1841. James refused to pay rent for land to the Atkinson interest and subsequently farmed outside the Atkinson survey.]


LAST SITE UPDATE: 8 November 2012



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