I am indebted to Meg Stewart for her assistance with the Stewart research. Douglas Stewart's Springtime in Taranaki provides the following biographical information about the Stewart family.
Rev. Alexander Stewart M.A. was a student at Glasgow University in the 1870's, studying science under Lord Kelvin, and probably lived with relatives in Glasgow. He arrived in Melbourne in 1881, visited Dunedin, New Zealand for discussions regarding the Presbyterian Church there. He returned to Scotland to finish his course in theology. At some time he was Chaplain at Paisley Gaol. He returned to Australia as Presbyterian minister at Leigh, Victoria, where he married Jean Armstrong in 1884. She was a younger sister of Mary Ann Armstrong, wife of Lewis Bell. The Armstrong family of Leigh were landowners of considerable fortune.
He also held a position as minister at Essendon, Melbourne. The family home at Essendon was named "Appin" - as mentioned in the WW1 Diary of Annie Bell.
Rev. Stewart rose to be Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Australia.
Rev. Alexander and Jean Stewart had eight children - Alexander Armstrong, Bessie, John Livingstone, William, Anne McKenzie, Sutherland Leigh, Neil Livingstone and George Shaw (Geordie) Stewart. John died in early infancy. Will, Leigh, Neil and Geordie joined the AIF in WW1; each returned, but Leigh had a wooden leg from wounds while fighting in France.
The Stewarts of Melbourne lived in a house "Ardshiel" at Balwyn (Melbourne). The photo of "Ardshiel" (at right) - the Stewart family - comes from Springtime in Taranaki by Douglas Stewart. (see below)
The Stewarts in Scotland describes their probable geographical origin.
Rev. Stewart's son, Alexander Armstrong Stewart, was dux of Scotch College, Melbourne, matriculating at the age of thirteen. He commenced studying medicine but then changed to law. He moved to New Zealand, where he taught at The King's School in Auckland. He married Mary Fitzgerald, and lived near Eltham, New Zealand, where he eventually became a partner in a law company.
Geordie Stewart had two children. None of the other children - Bessie, Annie, Will, Sutherland Leigh or Neil Stewart had any children. In Springtime in Taranaki, Bessie is described as "sturdy, kindly and brisk"; she is remembered as being of a very generous nature. Leigh is described as "big, kindly, jovial and cantankerous", and Neil as "gentle, dreamy, poetical and roly-poly". Annie is described as "poetical"; she wrote fairy stories for the Melbourne Age.
The cousins - the Stewarts and the Bells (children of Lewis and MaryAnn Bell) - were a close group. They were of a similar age and although from Melbourne and Booligal, NSW respectively, attended the same schools in Melbourne. Several Stewarts and Bells were Duxes of Scotch College. Annie Bell and Bessie Stewart were close friends and corresponded frequently. The Stewarts are frequently mentioned in the WW1 diary of their cousin, Annie Bell, who served in the AIF in Egypt, France and Britain. See Correspondences.
The Stewart men enjoyed sport greatly - cricket and fishing are frequently mentioned in books about them, in Douglas Stewart's The Seven Rivers, in their correspondence, and in the WW1 diary of Annie Bell. Interestingly, the Leigh area, where Jean Armstrong's family lived, usually excelled in local cricket competitions.
Alexander and Mary Stewart had five children Jean, Douglas, Helen, Neil and Shirley, all born in New Zealand. Douglas Stewart moved to Sydney, Australia and married Margaret Coen, noted watercolour artist. They had one daughter, Margaret (Meg) Stewart.
Stewart, Douglas, Springtime in Taranaki - An Autobiography of Youth, Angus & Robertson, 1983.
Stewart, Douglas, The Seven Rivers, Duffy & Snellgrove, 2001.
Last Updated: 11 May 2012