Alexander Armstrong
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Family Warrambeen Customs Church Connections
Political Life Education and Health Melbourne Armstrongs in NSW
Golf Hill Cemetery Headstones Interesting Marriage connections


Alexander Armstrong (b1823, d.1890was the husband of Betsy Sutherland / Thompson, and father of ten children:-


MaryAnn Armstrong 1861 Jean Sutherland Armstrong 1863 William Armstrong 1864-65 William Armstrong 1868 George Armstrong 1868? Margaretta Bell Armstrong 1873 John Bell Armstrong 1874 Sutherland Armstrong 1876 Christina Armstrong 1878 Lillias Effie Armstrong 1880



  • Son of William Armstrong and Ann Sutherland.

  • He was born in Kildonan, Sutherlandshire, Scotland, and died at Warrambeen on 12 January 1890, aged 67 years.

  • He married his first wife Barbara Thomson, on 16 Nov 1820. She was born on 22 Apr 1821 in Kildonan, Sutherlandshire, Scotland, and died at Warrambeen on 3 October 1853, aged 33 years. They migrated as assisted passengers to Victoria on the "Europa" in September 1852.

  • He married Betsy Sutherland/Thomson in 1860 at Woolbrook, Victoria, at the home of his uncle, James Bell.


Some interesting marriage connections

  • The Sutherlands, Armstrongs and Thomsons all lived in Kildonan / Loth / Clyne, Sutherlandshire, Scotland before migrating to Australia.

  • Alexander Armstrong's mother was a Sutherland. He married Barbara Thomson.

  • Betsy Sutherland's father was a Sutherland. She married Thomas Thomson.

  • Both Barbara Thomson and Thomas Thomson died within years of arriving in Australia with their spouses.

  • Common names in the related families include Munro, Mackay and Campbell. These names recur commonly in the properties owned by the Armstrongs in Australia.



  • He arrived in Australia in 1852, and was an overseer for Alexander Cunningham. Then he managed the John Bell property of Warrambeen. He later leased 40,000 acres from John Bell and bought John Bell's Watch Hill estate of 11,000 acres. 

  • This relationship with John Bell explains the "Bell" middle name for some of his children. Interestingly, his daughter, Mary Ann, married John Bell's nephew, Lewis Bell in 1881.

  • On 19 September 1879, The Geelong Advertiser noted the arrival at Leigh Road (later Bannockburn) Railway Station of the first western district wool for the season, en route to the Geelong port - it came from Alexander Armstrong's Warrambeen.

  • Warrambeen stock had been built up since 1851; and by 1887, records show his properties were shearing 80,000 sheep. 

  • The 1887 records also show he had 289 stud ewes for 5 stud rams at various properties.

  • In that year, sheep had been been brought to Warrambeen for shearing from Ellingerrin, Moffats, Gows Hill, Watch Hill and Andrew's Hill. 

  • Some exporting of 109 rams to New Zealand is also recorded.

  • He lived at Warrambeen until his death in 1890. 


Other properties

  • He purchased Watch Hill from John Bell (unknown date); Ellingerrin from A.M. Campbell in 1886.


Some customs

  • Each Boxing Day, the Armstrongs and Bells would distribute gifts amongst the residents of Shelford and Teesdale. Alexander Armstrong would give fifty fat lambs to residents; Betsy Armstrong dispensed prizes to the Teesdale Sunday School. Mary Bell (widow of James Bell) gave gifts to the Teesdale children.


Church Connections

  • Scots were in the majority in Victoria's Western District, bringing with them their Presbyterianism.  A Thomas Spurgeon preached at Warrambeen in July 1880. In The Scottish Church in Victoria, 1901, wrote of "the respect and affection Alexander Armstrong of Warrambeen had won from those who knew him."

  • Rev. John Gow, a licentiate of the Church of Scotland came to Geelong in 1841. He is reported to have lived at John Bell's Watch Hill and at Warrambeen during the 1840's. John Bell apparently supported several churches in the area as well - Leigh Church and St. George's Geelong.

  • John Armstrong was one of the men instrumental in setting up the Presbyterian church in Geelong, and in the establishment of Scotch College, Geelong. Presumably Alexander Armstrong and his father, William Armstrong, were also instrumental in its establishment.

  • Alexander Armstrong acted as a lay preacher at Leigh for the Rev. Archibald Simpson, Free Church of Scotland, whenever his help was required.

  • Elders of the church were elected in 1856 and Alexander Armstrong became one of the elders.

  • When the Rev. Simpson retired in 1882 after 25 years at Leigh, his replacement was the Rev. Alexander Stewart, who was to marry Jean Armstrong, daughter of Alexander Armstrong.


Political Life

  • From 1873 - 1890, he was a Councillor of the Shire of Leigh. He is listed as having interests in Warrambeen, Shelford West, Shelford East, Wurrook and Wingeel Stations.


Education and Health

  • Some Armstrong children are recorded as attending the state school in the village. After the school closed down, Alex. Armstrong in 1883 provided a hut on his property for a private school, paying the teacher 28 p.a. with lodging. Interestingly, two Armstrong grandchildren, (Dr.) George Bell and Alexander "Click" Bell (sons of Lewis and MaryAnn Bell of Booligal, NSW) were at the Warrambeen school in 1892 - they must have been living with the Armstrongs. It closed at the time of his death in 1893. 

  • He was a member of the Local Board of Health in the 1870's along with James Bell. Health problems of the time included scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough and threatened smallpox. Children under seven years of age were common deaths, as evidenced in the Teesdale Cemetery.




Golf Hill Cemetery Headstones

  • Some members of the Armstrong, Campbell and Russell families are buried at the Golf Hill Cemetery, Deans Marsh. Victoria.

In memory of 

Alexander Armstrong

a native of Kildonan, Sutherlandshire


who died at Warrambeen 

12th January 1890

aged 67 years

also Barbara Thomson

his first wife

who died at Warrambeen

3rd October 1853

aged 33 years

also William

infant son of

Alexander and Betsy Armstrong

who died at Warrambeen

7th July 1865

aged 8 months and 19 days

More headstone inscriptions of Russell family of Golf Hill here.


William Armstrong (son)

Personal Notices    Wednesday 22 March 1922

Mr. Willie Armstrong, who died at Arrandoovong, Branxholme, last week, was widely known in pastoral circles. He was born at the Warrambeen estate, and after being educated at the Scotch College he managed for his father, the late Mr. Alexander Armstrong the Elingerrin and Watch Hill estates. He then went to Arrandoovong, which his father purchased in 1880. In the following year he married Miss Jessie Marion Munro, second daughter of the late Mr. Donald Munro. In the same year, on the death of his father, he became co-executor with his mother in the Alex Armstrong estate, which has interests in many properties in Victoria and New South Wales. He was a member of the council of the Pastoralists' and the Sheepbreeders' associations, and was several times president of the Dundas Shire Council. He retained a lifelong interest in the Scotch College, contributing liberally to the fund for the new building. He is survived by his widow, one son, and one daughter, his youngest son having been killed at Messines in 1917. The funeral took place at Branxholme, and was very largely attended.

See The Armstrong Family in NSW