A visit to my ancestral home - Eilean Donan, Scotland - 19th August, 2014

Content by: Sue Stancombe

Photo (click to enlarge) - Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland nestled on an island situated where three great sea lochs meet and dwarfed by the resplendent background scenery.

After months of planning and saving my penny’s I finally got to visit my heritage home of Scotland.

This all started with a niggling in the back of my head, to find out more about my father’s heritage. Not much had been said, just bits and pieces, but they obviously stuck, and I had a need to find them.

I gained enough information from the birth certificate of my father and bits and pieces that had been said over my life. Enough information, for me to set me on the ancestry trail.

First I searched for my father’s grandparents - He was John Thomas and she was Annie McRae.

At this stage I did not realise that the daughter of a Scotsman included her maiden name in her married name. So I focused on Annie McRae, nothing came to light, or made sense. I visited various archive premises, with no one telling me that I should have been searching for Annie McRae Thomas.

Finding Flora

Content by: Alan K. McRae

Member Allan Smith like most of us has been tracing his McRae ancestry and seeks your assistance in tracing a photo of his Great Grandmother’s sister, Flora McRae.


Content by: Alan K. McRae

John McRaePhoto – John MacRae licensee of the Sir Colin Campbell Inn.

As President of the Clan MacRae Society of Australia and New Zealand I was fascinated to find that a number of MacRaes/McRaes turned up in my recent research concerning Ben Hall and his gang and other associated bushrangers around the 1860s.

On 25th September, 1863, two events took place. Firstly, Ben Hall and his gang robbed Mr. John Loudon’s station “Grubbenbong’ which was situated some 15 miles from Carcoar, near Bathurst. Loudon had arrived in the southern colony in 1841 and later operated a flour mill at Kings Plains just out of Bathurst by 1848. The discovery of gold in 1851 increased his business and with the help of his wife Helen they were able to purchase “Grubbenbong” in 1857. Hall’s gang stayed for a meal with their captives and talked till the early hours.

The other event started when two men who had been arrested at the same time as Thomas Frederick Lowry, another bushranger, were set free from the court in Goulburn. Tom Lowry had held up the Mudgee Mail Coach on the 29th August, 1861, and stole a haul of bank notes.

John MacRae’s name was also associated with the Mudgee Mail Coach holdup. Some time after the holdup one of the stolen Australian Joint Stock Bank’s notes from the robbery turned up in Goulburn and an investigation found it had been paid to James Ross by John MacRae, who was the licensee of either the Buck’s Head Inn or the Sir Colin Campbell Inn at the time. Ross had then paid the note on to James Marsden who had banked it in Goulburn.

Flight Sergeant Keith McRae Smith RAAF, 226 SQUADRON RAF

Content by: Michael Smith

Keith McRae SmithA number of years ago upon visiting the Australian War Memorial in Canberra I made enquiries as to the circumstances surrounding the death of my great-uncle Keith McRae Smith. All that they could tell me was that he was a Flight Sergeant in the RAAF and as a pilot was serving with 226 Squadron RAF. As to his death all they could say was that he was killed in an air battle over France on the 8th November 1943 and that was that.

Since then I have researched defence archives and after receiving immeasurable help from members of the 2nd Tactical Air Force and Medium Bombers Association I have been able to piece together this story of my late great-uncle.

On the 16th of November 1943 Colin Smith Jr of Coonamble, New South Wales, Australia received a telegram advising him that his brother, Flight Sergeant Keith McRae Smith RAAF then serving with 226 Squadron RAF was listed as ‘missing on air operations’.

Keith was born on the 21st of July 1922 the 13th child of Colin and Mary Smith at ‘Flodden Field’, a sheep station near Coonamble, New South Wales. Keith’s mother, Mary Isabella Smith nee Hall was the daughter of James Hall and Christina Mary McRae. Christina McRae was the daughter of Christopher and Catherine McRae and a member of the large McRae family of Merriwa, New South Wales.

After failing to complete his Intermediate examinations Keith left school at age 15 and lying about his age applied to join the RAAF. He was however rejected for service and soon found work as a general labourer and station hand in the local district. In the years preceding the outbreak of the war first Keith’s mother and later father died from illness and when war was declared in September 1939 he was working as a mechanic in a sawmill at Gwabegar, New South Wales.

Clan MacRae New Zealand History

Content by:  Sue Tregoweth

The Clan MacRae Society of Australia welcomes New Zealand members in 1991.

At the meeting of the Clan MacRae Society of Australia held in Sydney on 15 May 1991, a Revision of the Constitution was made to include New Zealand members.  Shirley Martin from Auckland attended this meeting and Eileen McMillan of Dunedin was appointed as the New Zealand representative.  These two and Molly Akers were the first three NZ members to be welcomed.

Eileen was Molly’s great helper in getting all the NZ MacRae trees sent to Molly, onto computer during those arduous years before publication of “MacRaes to New Zealand” on Christmas Eve 1994.    Molly had been in touch with Flora Willmott in Queensland since 1985 regarding their MacRae genealogy reference books.  Both Molly and Flora had tremendous help from Kenneth C. MacRae of Goulburn, secretary/editor for the Society.

Scotland the Brave part 2

Content by: Allan Smith

The call of the pipes finally became too much, so with tears in our eyes we said goodbye to the land of our Irish ancestors and embarked on a new journey of discovery to the Highlands of Scotland to seek out the lands of Flora McRae of Auchtertyre Ross and John MacRae of Sallachy Ross , the fore fathers of Ann McRae my Great Grandmother.

Invitation to Clan MacRae Bathurst Highland Gathering & Country Fair and Dinner

Content by: Alan K. McRae

Please come and join the members, relations and friends of the Clan MacRae Society of Australia and New Zealand for the Clan MacRae Bathurst Highland Gathering & Country Fair and Dinner on Sunday 25th March, 2012, from 10am to around 4.30pm. Note - You don’t have to necessarily come all day, you can come after lunch and stay for the informal dinner in the evening.

Scotland the Brave - Trip

Story by: Allan Smith

In 2011, our daughter Angela, was accepted as a  presenter at an international education conference held at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

Angela, a PhD student with a research scholarship from the Australian Government, apart from being extremely  intelligent, is well organized beyond belief.  Thus, she set in place a schedule of 42 days travel, with all flights, transfers and accommodation booked and accounted for, with a number of side excursions to places of interest arranged for each location.

Maxwell Browning awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia - 2012

Content by: Alan K. McRae

The Clan MacRae Society’s very capable Honorary Treasurer, Maxwell Browning, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. The honour was announced in the Northern Daily Leader newspaper on Australia Day 26th January, 2012.

He was an employee at Armidale’s WHK Cameron’s Chartered Accountants for 55 years from 1955, Mr Browning became a partner in the firm in 1969 and served as the company’s chief executive until his retirement in 2006.

Clan MacRae Society New Year's Greetings and welcome to 2012

Content by: Alan K. McRae

2011 has been a busy year for the Clan MacRae Society of Australia and New Zealand with many highlights, some sad losses and a number of firsts.Alan with camera

Early in the year the Society was blessed by the visit of our Scottish guests, Life President of the Clan MacRae Society in the U.K. and Scotland, Mrs Marigold MacRae and her daughter Baroness Miranda MacRae Van Lynden in March. Our Society held functions in Armidale, Katoomba and Bungendore and their presence was appreciated by all who attended.

The Clan MacRae marquee appeared at an increased number of venues in 2011. We attended the Australian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes in northern N.S.W. in late April and May and then there were Scottish gatherings at places such as Toukley, Canberra, Bundanoon and Bathurst. What a joy and pleasure it is to meet up with Clan MacRae Society members and various other MacRaes/McRaes. We all share a special MacRae bond that continually shows, especially at our get-to-gethers.