Livingstons from Scotland

Our Livingston branch hails from Argyllshire in the west of Scotland.

There are several claimed derivations of the name Livingston or Livingstone.

One is said to come from a Saxon named Leving, who settled in Scotland during the reign of Edgar (1097-1107). The Highland Livingstones from the districts of Lorn and Appin in Argyll claim a quite different origin. Their original Gaelic name was MacLeay from "Mac an Leigh" (son of the physician) or MacDhunnshleibhe (son of Dunsleve) who later adopted the name Livingstone.

Livingston tartan

Livingstons in Australia

James Livingston (c1805-1885)

MARCO POLO by Thomas Robertson 1819-1873 (courtesy of the State Library of Victoria)

James Livingston his wife Isabella (Clark) and their children were our first Livingstons in Austarlia arriving aboard the famous clipper ship, Marco Polo in September 1852. The Livingstons hailed from the village of Laroch in Argyllshire, Scotland where their five children were born. James had been employed in the slate quarries in the Ballaculish area which had been operating since about 1700.

Why James decided, at the age of 47 years to leave home for Australia with his young family might never been exactly known, the Victorian gold rush had started and he received assisted passage.

It was the Marco Polo's maiden voyage to Australia and she carried 888 passaengers  of whom 661 were Highland Scots. The voyage to Australia was known to be an arduous one, but at that time many people, and probably the Livingstons, were conditioned to hardship. The crowded conditions on the ship meant that disease particularly measles spread rapidly. Of the 327 children on board, fifty-two died along with two adults.

When the Marco Polo sailed into Hobson’s Bay, Port Phillip on 18 September 1852 it had set a record sailing time to Australia of 68 days.

The Marco Polo completed the round trip to Australia a total of twenty-five times in the fifteen years bringing around 150,000 immigrants to Victoria and it has been suggested that: "One in every twenty Australians can trace his or her roots to Marco Polo. "National Film Board of Canada Video about the Marco Polo". The Marco Polo Project. 2001.

The Marco Polo records show the livingston family:

  • James, 38 years
  • Isabella, 36
  • John, 14
  • Duncan, 12
  • Ann, 10
  • James, 8
  • Mary, 5

The factors affecting the decision by James to emigrate to Australia are not known, but may have been a combination of the downturn in the quality from the quarries, the otherwise harsh living conditions where poverty was common, the gold rush in Victoria, the Emigration Act of 1851 that made emigration more accessible even to the poorest, and the availability of assisted immigration schemes.

Also the population of the county of Argyll in 1831 was 100,973; in 1841 it was 97,371; in 1851 it was reduced to 88,567, and further continued, as a result of the "clearances". (The Clearance of Rannoch and Breadalbane, from Alexander MacKenzie's History of the Highland Clearances, 2nd edition, 1914 Project Gutenberg eBook 51271).

It is interesting that the 1851 census for West Laroch (likely Appin parish) showed the family as:

  • James Livingston 45
  • Isabel Livingston 41 (Isabel Clark)
  • John Livingston 13
  • Duncan Livingston 11
  • Ann Livingston 8
  • James Livingston 6
  • Mary Livingston 4

The reason for the age discrepancies is not known but have been related to age restrictions for emigration.

Kerang Cemetery Gate

James headed for the gold fields on Sandhurst (later Bendigo) and was a miner into the 1860s. While there, in 1858 his daughter Ann married Richard Robins Warren.  In 1875 when his son James married, he was farmer at Myers Creek, a little north of Sandhurst, and which was an old gold rush site.

He and Isabella later moved to Meering near Kerang in the Mallee region of north-western Victoria where he farmer property, finally transferred to his son James in 1884.

James died in 1885 and Isabella lived on in the area until 1896. Kerang cemetery and undertaker records indicate James and Isabella are buried in grave there but no headstone exists as the exact location of the grave is unknown. It has been suggested by the same undertaker company that the reason could be that grave markers were removed (by vandals) before headstones could be installed.

Ann Livingston (18412-1897)

Ann Livingston, known as Annie, was 10 years old when she arrived in 1852 with her family on the Marco Polo, and in 1858 at the age of 15 she married the 21 year old Richard Robins Warren. Eleven months later our direct ancestor Elizabeth Warren was born, the first of their 13 children.

It must have been a hard life for Ann and her children, firstly on the Victorian goldfields and later on the land in north western Victoria. She died in 1897 at the age of 54 years and in  buried in St. Kilda Cemetery.



Care has been taken to include only accurate information on this site however it cannot be guaranteed. Data from many sources and contributions from fellow researchers make up this site and errors may be present. Any corrections and additional information would be most welcome.