KerrieAnne Christian

What do you know about the reasons for emigration from Scotland?

Mostly ancestors left as assisted Bounty Emigrants hoping for a better life in Australia in the 19th Century – though several came without assistance in the 19th Century as well. A lot is spoken of the Irish Potato Famine but Scotland was badly affected by it also. In the 150 years that followed, many came to Australia after WWII and even through till the mid 1980’s hoping for a better future in the Australian Steel Industry in my area.

If you live overseas yourself, where do you live and can you say a few words about your personal Scottish diaspora story?

I live in Wollongong about 50 miles south of Sydney in Australia – near to where my McKenzie ancestors first came in 1837 from the Isle of Skye. I was glad that they had left Skye before the Potato Famine impacted their area.

Have any of your ancestors or members of your family emigrated? If so, where to? And do you know anything about their story overseas?

I have a niece who lives in the UK – so a descendant of the Scottish emigrants has returned to UK but not to Scotland. Our McKenzie ancestors first came in 1837 from the Isle of Skye there was controversy when these “boat people” arrived in the Colony. Many of the women spoke Scots but not English – however their children and grandchildren went on to lead successful lives – in my family one grandchild became a Mayor and another two grandchildren became Captains in the Australian Army in WWI.

What do you think is the legacy of the Scots abroad?

We feel a kinship with the music of Scotland – the bagpipes remain popular in Australia – at our local International Folk Festival there was a pipe band of course. The Scots in Australia have contributed in business, finance and industry – as well enriching their communities.

Ending with something light-hearted: what did you think when first looking at the image called ‘Piper Kerr and Emperor penguin’?

I smiled – wondered if there was thermal underwear under the kilt – did the sound of the bagpipes send the penguin waddling off ? Oh you’ll go the High Road and I’ll go the Low Road and I’ll be in Scotland before ye … we had that played at Mum’s funeral in November 2012.

3 thoughts on “KerrieAnne Christian

  1. I may the point in my own Reflection that Highland emigrants are often at the fore of popular images associated with Scottish emigration, but that they were, of course, crucial to the Scottish emigrant experience. Your family’s history shows that in a fantastic way, so thank you for sharing this. Some of the descriptions immigration officials used to write about Highland emigrants arriving in Australia reflect well the issues many of them were faced with. As Edward Grimes, the agent in Victoria, outlined in his 1852 annual report, most of the “highland emigrants are in a most deplorable state of ignorance, and quite unacquainted with the English language . . . However desirable the system may be as a means of charitable relief, I scarcely look upon this class of immigrants as one that should be brought out at the expense of the colony; very few of them are acquainted with agricultural or pastoral employment, and from their indolent habits, I do not think they are likely to prove a very great acquisition to our labour market.”

    • That’s brilliant. I’ve heard quite a few such story and especially remember one from Australia where two wee children were wearing a kilt in arrival and then that got passed down in the family. Hope your cousins will have a great time in Scotland, lots going on this year.

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