Some Graham and Stewart families in South Perthshire

James Graham (1831-74), my link with the Noble Grahams, the Royal Stewarts, and King Robert Bruce of Scotland


Compiled by Belinda Dettmann

October 2006


Click here for Royal Stewarts Descent Chart



James Graham (1831-1874) was a Scot who emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1851 with his wife Jean and eldest daughter Elizabeth, fathered another eight children, made and lost three fortunes, died young, but left a talented and flourishing family to spread their genes and establish their fortunes in their adopted country, Australia.


James was my great great grandfather, and he is my link to some of the noblest houses in Scotland.


Grannie used to tell me stories about her grandfather James Graham – how he left his wife three weeks after their first child was born in Glasgow in 1848 to travel round the world and make a fortune in the California Gold Rush. 


How he returned to Scotland three years later to take his family to Australia, where another Gold Rush would net him a further fortune – not on the goldfields, but in Melbourne, where his chain of butcher shops supplied rations to the miners.


How he set up a wool-scouring business on the banks of the Yarra River and sent a shipload of fine wool to England, but the ship sank on the voyage and he lost the lot. 


How, undaunted, he moved the family to Sydney and started a ‘dead meat market’, or abattoir, at Homebush, which in the year 2000 became the site for the Sydney Olympic Games.


How he overstretched himself in Sydney, probably in competition with the Glebe Island Abattoir, and had to sell out, although a new State Abattoir was later built upon the Homebush site and flourished there from 1907 until its closure in 1988.  How he returned to Melbourne undeterred, confident of repairing his fortunes yet again, and how he died there, unexpectedly, at the age of 43.


Grannie also told me that James Graham had been born in Glasgow, orphaned at the age of eight, lived with his Uncle Duncan Graham’s family and worked in Duncan’s butcher shop in Main Sreet. But the family had been well-connected –  James’ grandfather, Old James Graham, had been the Laird of Lennister – and they could claim descent from the Noble Grahams and the Royal Stewarts.


It has taken me years to prove the truth of the old family stories, but I am now able to put together a coherent picture of my family’s descent from the Grahams and the Stewarts, and from King Robert Bruce.


James Graham is a scion of the Grahams of Nether Glenny, which is a cadet branch of the Graham Earls of Menteith.  He can also claim direct descent from the Stewarts of Ardvorlich and from their three main cadet lines, the Stewart families of Annat, Glenbuckie and Gartnafuaran.  These families are sometimes referred to as the Stewarts of Balquhidder, in South Perthshire, as that village lay at the heart of their territorial holdings.


I find it fascinating to see how the various Graham and Stewart families in South Perthshire are entwined on my family tree.  I presume that the Laird of Lennister knew when he married her that his wife Janet Stewart was also his third cousin once removed, but I’m sure Grannie didn’t know this, and as far as I know this detail had not been passed down through the family. 


The descendant table above shows a brief outline of James Graham’s ancestors and descendants in graphic form.   It is intended as a visual aid to help the reader see more easily how the families are connected, and most siblings and some descendant lines have been omitted for easier viewing.  More detailed lines of descent can be found by clicking on my Annat file.