Wynne's Diary

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The Elliots

The family on Wynne's Mother's side came from Germany and Scotland (and on her Father's side, from Wales). The German branch of von Poellnitz you will find constantly mentioned in the diaries. Grandmother Eleanore's Elliot forebears appear less frequently, but do occasionally get mentioned. Below is a short history of her siblings.

Wynne's grandmother, Eleanore, was the eleventh and final child of James Elliot, 3rd Laird of Wolfelee, and his wife Caroline Hunter (a second marriage to a Margaret Davidson produced only one further child who died young).
Of the eleven children, one died in infancy, and another aged thirteen, but the rest survived into adulthood.

 

Her brother Walter became the 4th Laird, and had a long career with the East India Company Civil Service. He joined at eighteen and served for forty years. In 1837 he became private secretary to Lord Elphinstone, Governor of Madras, some of whose letters are preserved in Wynne's diary. (Elphinstone was Walter's uncle by marriage, having married Janet Elliot in 1806).
Walter retired in 1860, as the Member of the Council at Madras, the highest position to which a civilian could attain. Like a lot of people at that period, he was interested in a wide range of subjects and made extensive notes about birds, wild life, coins and archaeological remains. He corresponded with Charles Darwin, and catalogued the mammals of southern India in the Madras Journal of Literature and Science. His collection of the coins of Southern India is now in the British Museum. He was knighted in 1866 and died at Wolfelee in 1887.

Of the other members of the family, two brothers decided to seek their fortunes in Australia rather than joining the armed forces or the church, which was the usual fate for younger sons. William Thomas (known as Hobby), born in 1812, died in Munich in 1890, but his younger brother George Mackenzie, born in 1822, died out in Australia much earlier in 1856. The two men arrived there in the early 50s, and purchased a large block of land in what is now Queensland, near Rockhampton. The land was named Lower Johngboon, and consisted of 16,640 acres which were estimated to be enough for 4000 sheep. The exact description reads as follows:
"A block of land commencing at the lower boundary of Johngboon Run, on Johngboon Creek, and extending along the entire length of the Creek to its junction with the Baramba; the northern boundary being Mr Herbert's Run; the southern Mr Piggott's Woroon Creek Run; and the eastern the Baramba."

George died on 17th April 1856 at Gracemere and was buried in the garden at the Gracemere homestead, owned then and now by the Archer family. His burial, marked by a stone, is apparently the first European burial in that area, as Rockhampton was only a year old. In 1956 on the hundredth anniversary, the local historical society held a ceremony and laid a wreath on the grave. The inscription is still quite clear: In Memory of George Mackenzie Elliot, fifth son of the late James Elliot Esquire of Wolflee (sic), Roxburghshire, Scotland. Who died at Gracemere, Fitzroy River, on the 17th April 1856 aged 33 years."
He had been bringing up cattle to Gracemere, and in crossing a creek had become soaked, developed a fever and died.

When Thomas died in 1890, he left a small legacy which paid Eleanore £50 a year. Eleanore married Herman Freyherr von Poellnitz in 1841, and you can read about her in the Family section of the diary. She died in 1915.