James Wilson White and Agnes Renfrew

James Wilson White was born on 2 February 1811 and baptised on 10 March 1811 in the district of Ratho, the son of Mary Wilson and John White. The event was witnessed by Andrew and Adam Waugh who would also witness later White family baptisms.1

James Wilson White of the Parish of Colington, Mary and John's eldest son, married Agnes Renfrew of the Parish of Bothwell, on 13 May 1838 in Bothwell, Scotland.2 Agnes had been born in 1815 and was the daughter of David Renfrew and Margaret Blackburn.3

1841 Census: James (25), Agnes (20), Agnes (2) and John (1) Whyte are all resident in Colinton in 1841.

James and his family appear in the 1851 Scottish Census living at 148 Rose Street, Edinburgh, with the following details.4

Name Relationship Condition Age Sex Occupation Birthplace
James Wilson Head Married 40 (1811) M Carpenter (journeyman) Ratho, Midlothian
Agnes White Wife Married 35 (1816) F   Paisley, Renfrewshire
John White Son   11 (1840) M Scholar Colinton, Midlothian
Mary White Daughter Unmarried 9 (1842) F Scholar Colinton, Midlothian
David White Son   4 M   Edinr, Midlothian
Catharine White Daughter   1 (1850) M Scholar Edinr, Midlothian
James Bannerman Lodger   26 (1825) M Cloth Agent Edinr, Midlothian
William Graham Lodger   23 (1828) M Blacksmith (journeyman) Edinr, Midlothian

James and his wife Agnes ultimately emigrated to Van Diemen's Land, departing Liverpool aboard the Flora McDonald on 27 October 1854 and arriving in Launceston on 3 February 1855. The family were described as follows:

Name Age Trade Religion Cost
White, James 43 Joiner Baptist £22.00
White, Agnes 38 Wife Ditto £22.00
White, Agnes 16 Nurse Maid Ditto £22.00
White, John 14 Labourer Ditto £22.00
White, Mary 12 Nurse Maid Ditto £11.00
White. David 7 No Calling Ditto £11.00
White, Catherine 4 Ditto Ditto £11.00
White, Janet 2 Ditto Ditto £5.10

The total cost of the journey for the family was £126.10 and they were sponsored by James Wilson White's uncle George Wilson using the Bounty Immigration System of the time.5

Immigrants were signed up for specific employers before leaving their home country. Emigrants from some countries outside Britain were also encouraged to emigrate. A bounty of 20 pounds per adult was paid by the government. An Act passed by the Legislative Council in September 1854 required emigrants to pay back their fare within 14 days of their arrival unless they agreed to work for an employer for two years. A Board of Immigration was formed in December 1854 to deal with all immigration matters.6

They probably stayed with George until it was established where they would live, and at this point their movements are unknown for the period they were in Tasmania, 1855 to 1862. As they were bounty immigrants they would have been required to stay for the pre-determined time, but they were probably also keen to let the children settle for a while before their final destination. According to Margaret Rackham they may have had another daughter in Tasmania, Christina, some time around 1857.7

On 2 June 1862 James Wilson White's wife and children boarded the Tamar to emigrate further to New Zealand. James himself is not listed as a passenger but it was also relatively common for the men to move before the family to establish their new holdings:

Sailed-June 2...Passengers by the schooner Tamar, for Otago, Mrs. White and family, Mrs. Meiklejohn and three children, Mr. Beggard and Mr. Pennyfather in the cabin; and Jane Carey and family, and Ann Carrington and two children in the steerage.8

In New Zealand the family of James Wilson White and Agnes Renfrew prospered. (Images of this couple)

  • 1. GROS OPR Births 698/0A 0010 0286 Ratho
  • 2. GROS OPR Marriages 625/00 0040 0034 Bothwell
  • 3. Gina McDonald: Ancestry Pedigree, Viewed 15 Dec 2011
  • 4. Ancestry.com. 1851 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Parish: Edinburgh St George; ED: 13; Page: 5; Line: 14; Roll: CSSCT1851_179; Year: 1851
  • 5. AOT Immigration Records CB7/12/1/4
  • 6. Tasmanian Department of Education: ePlanner
  • 7. Rackham, Margaret, Family Group Sheets, "Wilson Descendants," Book 2, Page 4.
  • 8. Launceston Examiner Tuesday 3 June 1862