The Story of His Journal

This article is in response to a recent suggestion asking if I could tell more about finding "Alexander's" journal. So here goes:

After my father's death in 1965 we found among his papers some notes and letters which indicated he had been attempting to trace his family history. This led me to recall his telling us that he had visited Scotland at the end of the First World War. My mother had my father's diaries from the War so I searched the final one to see what I could find. Imagine my joy when I discovered an entry which said "went to Glasgow, visited Dr. and Mrs. McGregor and their daughter Molly. Lovely people. Molly and I went to the theatre and she drove me to the station". That was all I could find.

So then I joined the Clan Gregor Society in Scotland. I wrote to them asking for help to see if I could find any relatives still in Scotland. My letter was published in their Newsletter and I received two replies. Both were from McGregors who were not related but were willing to help me. One was a lady who was used to searching in the Perth (Scotland) Record Office and the other was from a gentleman who had been a solicitor and was used to searching for heirs.

In due course I heard from the solicitor with the exciting news that he had found a descendant of Dr. McGregor living in the south of England. His parents lived in South Africa and they were planning to come to Australia to visit his father's sister who lived in Mount Tambourine in Queensland. It was his mother Clare who was my McGregor relative. I was able to contact Clare before she came out and got the address in Mount Tambourine where they would be staying in the hope we would be able to meet. Around this time my brother and sister-in-law decided to live permanently at the Gold Coast and would be only an hour's drive from Mount Tambourine. So in due course off I went to stay with them. We made contact with Jean at Mount Tambourine and found the visitors had arrived, so a visit was arranged and what a wonderful day it was. Clare had brought out lots of things of family interest, some of which had come from the journal of my great-great-grandfather, Lieutenant Alexander McGregor.

She gave me the exciting news that the original journal was held in Scotland by her cousin Dr. Colin McCance, who was the son of Molly and grandson of Dr. Otto McGregor whom my father had visited in Glasgow in 1918. I was able to pass on this information to the lady in Perth who unearthed birth, marriage, death and census records for Lieutenant Alexander McGregor's family.

It wasn't long before I was on a plane en route to Scotland via Holland to visit my son-in-law's family. While shopping one day with my Dutch friends I tripped on a cobblestone and guess what? Finished with my left leg in plaster and a pair of crutches. Not a situation to be recommended for overseas travellers. My host's home was a lovely three story terrace-type typical Dutch home and my room was on the third floor. Some rearranging took place and I came down to the first floor. I managed getting up the stairs with the crutches but to come down on my bottom, much to everyone's amusement.

After some delay I was able to leave for Scotland and arrived in Aberdeen to be met by my 'new' relatives, Colin and Fanny. It was a beautiful drive to their home in Banchory, Aberdeenshire - a lovely old stone house which had once been the Manse set in the most beautiful garden. The delightful River Feugh cascaded over rocks at the bottom of the garden and it was here that Colin would catch a salmon for our next meal. The vegetables would come from Fanny's large vegetable and fruit garden. The freezer held pheasant and venison. Colin was the hunter and Fanny the gatherer. They were practically self-sufficient.

So the exciting time came for me to see the journal of my great-great-grandfather, Lieutenant Alexander McGregor. Colin was rather amused by my enthusiasm; he had lived with this family history all his life and it was rather all taken for granted. I saw in Alexander's copperplate writing family trees he had drawn up, stories he had written, history he had recorded. It was a dream come true. Colin arranged for the journal to be copied for me and I brought the pages back to Australia with me to have them bound. When I took them to the book-binder he informed me that the margin on the left-hand side was too narrow for him to bind, however there was plenty of room on the right-hand side and he could bind it back to front, so we settled for that. It was strange at first to be reading back to front.

It was a wonderful trip to Rannoch. We saw the House of Ardlarich where Alexander was born, and the Wester Temper, the farm he had after he left the Militia, where part of the original farmhouse is still in use. We saw where the Road to the Isles passed through part of the property and the Killichonan Cemetery where Alexander, his wife Anne, and daughter Janet are resting. Also Molly's ashes have been scattered there.

I have had several trips to Scotland and Colin and Fanny enjoyed coming to Australia. Sadly they are no longer with us. Finding my family history and knowing them was a wonderful time in my life. Another copy of the journal was made by Oxford University and presented to the Clan Gregor.

Contributed by Beth (McGregor) Chamberlain ( PPPG Member No. 465 )

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