James was born somewhen about 1821, or 1822, the son of William and Margaret.
James emigrated from Donegal to New South Wales in 1841, as a 19 year old farm servant, per the ship "Helen", arriving on the 21st July.
Australia, New South Wales, Index to Bounty Immigrants, 1828-1842 Name: James McCrea
Marriage and Children
James McCrea married Elizabeth Jennings Taylor on the 5th day of June 1849, in Scot's Church, Pitt Street, Sydney, New South Wales. James Fullerton LL.D. officiated and the witnesses were James and Maryanne Pinkertone.
Elizabeth Jennings McCrea née Taylor died in 1855, soon after the birth of their only son, leaving James to bring up two small girls (aged five years and four years) on his own.
• 1841: James was listed on his immigration card as a "farm servant".
• 1851: James was a baker, residence: Surrey Hills, as listed on Emily Elizabeth's birth/Christening record.
• 1855: James was a Publican, residence: Palmer Street, Sydney, as listed on Overin's birth/Christening record.
• 1856: James was a Publican, residence: Palmer Street, Sydney, as shown by his (re)application for a Publican's License.
Death and Burial
James McCrea passed away on the 19th May 1858, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, after a lingering illness, aged 36 years, leaving his already orphaned daughters double orphans at the ages of eight years and seven years. A notice of his death was published on page 9 of the Sydney Morning Herald, on Thursday the 10th June.
Publicans Licenses New South Wales State Archives and Records
James McCrea married Elizabeth Jennings Taylor
Event date: 05/06/1849
Event type: Marriage
Scots Church Pitt Street Sydney
New South Wales
Registration number 684/1849 V1849684 79
James was alive in 1856 as he (re)applied for and was granted a Publican's license, but his daughter Emily never mentioned her father, although she did tell her daughter, Minnie, about a large house with lots of carriages pulling up in front. Minnie Gordon (later Press) believed, from her mother's accounts, that that house belonged to Elizabeth Jennings Taylor's family.
A James McCrea died in Sydney in 1858. If this is the correct James McCrea, it would make sense that the children didn't talk of him, as they would not have known him.
The parents listed on this registration are William and Margaret, but no birth/baptism has been found for James McCrea, McCrae, Mcrea, Macrea, Macrae, Mcray, or Macray, across the years 1815 to 1830. The only birth/baptismal registration for those years is that of James McCrea born in Wigtownshire, Scotland, to John McCrea and Elizabeth McCredie (whose name is also rendered at times as McCredy . . . the marriage registration states McCredie, as does a probable birth/baptismal registration).
One other point should be noted: if this is the correct James McCrea (and there are no other deaths between 1856 and 1871), there was nobody left who knew him intimately enough to know who his parents were. His wife was dead, and his children only babes. It is possible, therefore, that the information was given by his in-laws, as it is believed they took both girls in to raise them.
There is a birth and baptism for a James McRae, born to William McRae and Margaret Eccles, in Lanarkshire.
FamilySearch has a James McCrea born in December 1822, in County Donegal, Ireland, (Contae Dhún na nGall) to William McCrea and Margaret Hamilton, married to Elizabeth Jennings Taylor, and dying in 1858. While it is tempting to disregard this offering due to all family records to this point claiming James was Scottish, the birth date and the parents do provide sufficient argument that previous information has been removed as "not proven". That this Irish James McCrea also had a sister named Catherine (and listed as marrying Wallace Gordon) is further argument for a possible match.
If this is the correct James McCrea (and it is increasingly likely that it is), then he was the second eldest of five, and the eldest son (an older sister, a younger sister, and two younger brothers)*. It appears he may have emigrated ahead of the rest of the family, both sisters travelling on the same ship as their mother, Margaret Hamilton.
This opens up the possibility that his orphaned daughters were brought up by their paternal relatives, not their maternal ones (no trace of whom has been yet found). One of the memories passed on to her grandchildren by Emily Elizabeth was of visiting a "large house with a long, sweeping drive, and lots of horses and grand carriages". This would be more likely in Parramatta, where a relative was the Mayor, than in the confines of Sydney, where there wasn't much space for "long sweeping drives".
* The family McCrea that came as Bounty Immigrants:
Anne Jane McCrea (1822—)
James McCrea (1822—1858)
Henry McCrea (1826—1894)
Catherine McCrea (1829—1905)
William Alexander McCrea (1832—1893)
A James McCrea died in the Parramatta district in 1898. No family records show the McCrea family as ever being in Parramatta, but it cannot be ruled out. This James McCrea can definitely be ruled out, as when daughters Catherine Eleanor and Emily Elizabeth were married in 1874 and 1871 their father is mentioned as "the late James McCrea of Sydney".
Australia, New South Wales, Index to Bounty Immigrants, 1828-1842
Name: James McCrea
Event Type: Immigration
Event Date: 21 Jul 1841
Event Place: New South Wales, Australia
Event Place: , New South Wales, Australia
Residence Place: Stranorlar, Donegal,
Birth Year (Estimated): 1822
Ship Name: Helen
Father's Name: William McCrea
Mother's Name: Margaret
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