Margaret Waddell Kay – from Amargh to Gympie

My 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Malcolm Waddell b1838, and his wife Mary Best b1843, emigrated from Tandragee in Northern Ireland to Queensland Australia in 1867 on the David McIvor. His sister Margaret Waddell b1844 also emigrated to Australia, married and lived close to her brother in Gympie for most of her life. This post is

I will slowly cover what is known of Thomas’ siblings, and also of the Greers, but this post focusses on his sister, Margaret Waddell, because a great photo of her has survived! [2]

Thomas and Margarets parents were Thomas Waddell b1800 and Jane Greer b1803, and they had seven children – most of whom emigrated from Northern Ireland to Queensland. There is a family story that the whole family emigrated after a shooting incident (there are a couple of versions of this story) – the person involved in the incident allegedly emigrated to America and the rest of the family came to Australia. See this earlier blog post (and let me know if you know more!)

Margaret Waddell was born on 14 Nov 1844, in Tandragee, County Armagh, in Northern Ireland [1]. She was baptised in the Clare Presbyterian Church on 10th April 1845 [1]. Her descendants believe she came out on the same ship as her brother Thomas (by 2nd great grandfather) and a sister (which would have to be Sally Wadddell – Kettleton) [2]. If this is correct, then Margaret Waddell arrived in Maryborough, Queensland in 1863 on the “David McIver”. A Thomas Waddell, aged 24, is the only Waddell shown on the passenger list. Margaret does not appear on any ships passenger list [5], but this is true of most of the Waddell family members as far as records seem to show. Her death certificate also estimates her arrival in the colonies as about 1865.

On 29 October 1864, she was married to Malcolm Kay b1834, another new arrival in the colony. Her husband Malcolm was born in Dysart, Fifeshire, Scotland in 1834 and came to Australia on the “Prince Consort” which arrived in Dec 1863 [2]. He was apparently a crewman and jumped ship to become an immigrant. The marriage certificate says she was a general servant [3] at the time of her wedding. The wedding was witnessed by two other passengers on the “Prince Consort” [3] and there was a small notice in the paper

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, Wed 2 Nov 1864 via Trove:
Marriage Certificate of Margaret Waddell and Malcom Kay, Maryborough, 1864.

A photo of Margaret Waddell (Waddel) and her husband Malcolm Kay has survived via their descendants and was published in the Prince Consort book with a full page bio. This is in an excellent book on the passengers of the “Prince Consort” by the Maryborough Family History Society – one of a large series of books on the immigrant ships that arrived in Maryborough in the 1800s. Due to the printing and the scanning, a lot of the resolution of the photo of Margaret Waddell Kay has been lost, but we can see her face, fancy elegant hair style, lace sleeve cuffs and collar, and shiny large sleeves. She died in 1880 so this is presumably a photo from sometime after she was married in 1864 but before she died in 1880. Her husband Malcolm is shown with a beard, and a simple shirt under a jacket. It seems that the photos are not a “pair” as the edges of Malcolms photo are curved whereas Margarets photos appears to be square – it would be good to be able to see a new scan of the originals one day…

Margaret and Malcolm Key had seven children and by 1868 they had settled in Gympie. This is about the time that her brother Thomas Malcolm Waddell’s wife and children arrived in Gympie. She had her 7th child, Margaret, on 14 April 1880 and died 2 weeks later on 26th August 1880 due to hemorrhage due to childbirth.

She was buried in the Tozer Park cemetery, which was not a suitable site for the town and closed a few years later, and is now Andrew Fisher park. Some headstones were moved to a new location but most went missing. The Gympie Library have an excellent blog post of the story and controversy of the Tozer Cemetery. Malcolm remarried Mary Thomas, and they had several more children before he died in 1922 and was buried in the new Gympie cemetery.

Her son David Malcolm Kay b1878 designed many buildings around Gympie including the distinctive Gympie Fire Station


[1] Church Baptism record, via, shared on on

[2] Grimes, Judith A & Gassan, Kay F (1994). Prince Consort, 1864 and other voyages. Wise Owl Research Publishers, Maryborough, Qld. See Page 64-65

[3] Marriage Certificate, Malcolm Kay and Margaret Waddell, Maryborough Registry Office, 29 October 1864

[4] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, Wed 2 Nov 1864 via Trove:

[5] Grimes, Judith A & Gassan, Kay F (1993). Tall ships on the river : David McIver, 1863, and the Montmorency. Heritage Research Publishing, Maryborough, Qld. See p87.

[6] FindaGrave

You can contact me via karenhapgood [at} gmail dot com

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