George Cheyne1

M, #2643, b. 8 April 1790, d. 5 June 1869
FatherJohn Cheyne b. c 1740, d. b 15 Sep 1823
MotherMargaret Edmonstone b. c 1750
     George Cheyne was born on 8 April 1790. He was documented in A. Y. Cheyne, The Cheyne Family in Scotland, on page 144.2,3

George Cheyne (2643) was an early inhabitant of the Albany area and an influential merchant. The attached is a brief biography published in Albany, A Panorama of the Sound, from 1827. The George MacCartney Cheyne referred to the above was his nephew (8651).4

George Cheyne married Grizzel Melville 16 December 1830, in accordance with the procedures of the Church of England, in London, Clerkenwell, Saint John the Baptist, Middlesex, England. They were married in the parish church. He was a bachelor and a resident of the parish.5

The whaling industry in Albany, King Georges Sound, Western Australia, Australia had been established by George Cheyne (2643), born in Edinburgh, on 8th April, 1790, the fourteenth of sixteen children to Dr John Cheyne and Margaret Edmonstone. He reached Fremantle in 1831 on board the Stirling. Two of his brothers, Alexander (2639) and Bruce (2645), and two nephews, John (2652) and George McCartney Cheyne (2651), were also resident there before moving to the eastern colonies.6

Attached is an image of George Cheyne, circa 1850.7

George Cheyne recorded the death of his brother, Bruce Cheyne, who died, 7 January 1856, at Albany, Western Australia, Australia.8,9,10

George Cheyne and his wife Grace Cheyne were listed on the 1861 England Census, at 2 Lansdown Terrace, in Brighton, Hove Parish, Sussex, England. He was head of household and a gentleman. His nieces, Caroline Cheyne (10801) and Ellen Cheyne (10802), daughter's of Charles Cheyne (2640) were living nearby.3

George Cheyne died 5 June 1869 at 2:00 PM, at Bruce Street in Lochmaben, Dumfries, Scotland. He was 79 years old and his death was recorded by his niece, Elizabeth Yorke, who was present at death. His wife and parents were confirmed to have been as recorded herein.11,12

George Cheyne was buried, in Lochmaben, Dumfries, Scotland..13

His estate was probated on 12 August 1869 at London, England.14

The George Cheyne Influence

The Moir connection with Western Australia would not have eventuated but for George Cheyne, a remarkable enterprising and purposeful man. He married Grizel Melville (known as Grace) in the early 1820's and thus became the uncle of John, Andrew, Alexander and George Moir. Cheyne was born in Edinburgh on 8th April, 1790, the fourteenth of sixteen children, to Dr John Cheyne and Margaret Edmonstone. Little is known of his early years. However it would appear he was well equipped with business acumen. When he reached Fremantle in 1831 aboard the ship 'Stirling', he brought with him a cargo of merchandise likely to be wanted by his fellow colonists. As well as a prefabricated house, sheep and cattle, he brought a pair of rabbits.

Cheyne planned to establish as a farmer, but found all the best land adjacent to the Swan and Canning Rivers had already been selected prior to his arrival. He ventured to Albany, where he chose business sites. He selected a large area of land on both sides of the Kalgan River, some near the Upper Kalgan Bridge, another area near Moorilup (now Kendenup) and a lease on Mistaken Island (now Rabbit Island) in King George Sound.

At his Albany base, Cheyne set up as a merchant. He served other settlers as well as the sealers, muttonbirders and whalers then using Albany for refreshment. He also traded with and serviced the small fleet of vessels that used King George Sound. George Cheyne was not the only member of his family resident in Albany in the 1830's. Two of his brothers, Alexander and Bruce, and two nephews, John and George McCartney Cheyne, were also resident there for several years, before moving to the eastern colonies. The name of the latter nephew is often incorrectly ascribed to his dynamic uncle.

George Cheyne pursued many other business enterprises in the 1830's and 1840's. These included the establishment of a bay whaling depot and sealing station at Doubtful Island Bay. He organised the bullock wagon teams of sandalwood cutters, whose perfumed timber booty was sold to Ceylon and China. The most lasting enterprise, however was the establishment of a private port and new whaling station. This was at the small harbour of Cheyne Bay, immediately north east of Cape Riche, in approximately 1839. The Moorilup lands had been sold to John Hassell that year and Cheyne appeared to believe his future lay in the area east of Albany.

The Cape Riche harbour became a very popular shelter for overseas whaling craft, chiefly American, who objected to the port charges levied at Albany. Cheyne provided water, fuel, vegetables and meat at reasonable prices and bought up the whalers cargoes of merchandise. The surrounding land proved to have excellent pasture for stock and a thriving wool producing station, called 'Bonnington Braes', was developed.

Twenty years after his arrival in Albany, George Cheyne was firmly established as a merchant. He was a ships chandler, a master whaler, a grazier, a sandalwooder and the sole proprietor of a busy private port. The enterprises required considerable management and the lack of a family of his own prompted Cheyne to encourage the immigration of relatives from Scotland. Andrew Moir, son of Grace Cheyne's sister Elizabeth, arrived first, in 1842, to become an indentured employee of his uncle. Subsequently Andrew Muir, son of Margaret Melville, who was the eldest sister of Grace, arrived with his wife and family in 1844. Alexander and George Moir, with their parents John and Elizabeth and sisters Isabella and Elizabeth, arrived in 1850. The arrival of William Henry Graham in 1852 completed the Cheyne inheritance. (The eldest Moir nephew, John, came at the instigation of his brother Alexander in 1859). Graham was not related to the Mairs and Muirs, but rather the grandson of Cheyne's sister Cecelia Wilkinson. Cheyne had been keen for Alexander Moir to understudy the merchandising interests in Albany, whilst Andrew and George Moir took care of the pastoral interests at Cape Riche and in the Pallinup watershed.

Preparing to retire in Albany, Cheyne built a substantial granite residence in Stirling Terrace (later called Norman House) in 1858. He returned suddenly to England in 1860. The move may have been calculated to enable more input to the marketing of his wool clip by his English woolbrokers. Whatever the case, he briefly resided in Brighton, in the southern English county of West Sussex before moving up to the small Scottish town of Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire. His final home (Bank House) was set in a pretty location on Kirk Loch and here George Cheyne died on 5th June, 1869, in his 80th year. His headstone set into the wall of the New Churchyard, Lochmaben records his to be the first grave in the new cemetery - a pioneer to the end.

lt could be assumed from the diversity of his business interests that George Cheyne was a ruthless man, driven to material success. Much evidence proves this to be a very incomplete picture, for he was described by his contemporaries as kind, cordial, considerate and helpful. He was the possessor of a soft Fifeshire voice, a pleasant host and a gentle husband. He was also certainly imaginative, shrewd and efficient. Cheyne no doubt possessed a clear realisation of the social and other obligations owed to the small community in which he lived. He was a foundation trustee of the St Johns Anglican Church in Albany in 1841 and commissioned as a Justice of the Peace in 1838. No evidence exists that he ever found the necessity to seek the aid or protection of the law in any business or private dealing, despite some considerable difficulties with the irascible Resident Magistrate, Sir Richard Spencer.

Moir, Muir and Graham descendants can be proud of their association with the name which literally marks the south coast of Western Australia in such forms as Cheyne Beach, Cheyne Island, Cheyne Point and Cheyne Creek.15


Grizzel Melville b. 30 Aug 1797, d. 26 Sep 1871


  1. [S148] Lieut. Colonel Archibald Ythan Cheyne, The Cheyne Family in Scotland,, Page 144.
  2. [S148] Lieut. Colonel Archibald Ythan Cheyne, The Cheyne Family in Scotland, Page 144.
  3. [S317] 1861 British Census, Hove Parish, Sussex, England, Source information RG9/604, Registration district Steyning, Sub-registration district: Shoreham, ED 14e, Folio 88, Page 53, Household schedule number 215. Image obtained from
  4. [S445] Records of Sue Fiffer, in Australia, An image of title page and pages 44-45, Donal S. Garden, Albany, A Panorama of the Sound, from 1827, Thomas Nelson Ltd, West Melbourne, 1977.
  5. [S389] Website Website ( "London Metropolitan Archives, Saint John The Baptist, Clerkenwell, Register of Marriages, P76/JNB, Item 012, Page 110, number 330. London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921. Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1921. London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts, London."
  6. [S259] Miscellaneous Records, Information provided by Malcolm Cheyne, in Townsville, Australia, via email, 24 October 2007, his source, unknown.
  7. [S259] Miscellaneous Records, Image of George Cheyne provided by Diane Jardine, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, received via email, 17 January 2008.
  8. [S396] Australian Vital Records Index on CD-ROM by the LDS, Death records, reference number 759.
  9. [S259] Miscellaneous Records, Lorraine's Burial Records; Link provided by Peter Olde in Australia, 6 July 2009.
  10. [S389] Website Website ( "Australian Death Index 1787-1985 Name: Bruce Cheyne Age: 62 Registration Year: 1856 Registration Place: Western Australia Registration Number: 759 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1794."
  11. [S259] Miscellaneous Records, Image of civil death record provided by Diane Jardine, Dumfriesshire , Scotland, 17 January 2008.
  12. [S389] Website Website ( "Date and place of death from an image of the abstract of his will in England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, Scotch Confirmations, Sealed, 1869, page 265."
  13. [S460] Information provided by a Web Page Contributor, Image of headstone provided by Diane Jardine, Dumfriesshire , Scotland, 17 January 2008.
  14. [S389] Website Website ( "Text from an image of the abstract of his will in England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, Scotch Confirmations, Sealed, 1869, page 265."
  15. [S259] Miscellaneous Records, Biography provided by Diane Jardine, Dumfriesshire , Scotland, received via email, 17 January 2008.