In the Blenheim embarkation and subsequent lists, the family was described as follows:
- Mathew Dunnet, 36, Paisley, labourer, 36
- Margaret Dunnet, 33, Paisley
- John Dunnet 7½, Paisley
- Janet Dunnet, 4, Paisley
- plus Ellen Thomson Dunnet, born at sea
An Andrew Dunnet, 22, Pulteney, cartwright, was included in the initial passenger list for the Blenheim but the name was crossed out and did not appear on subsequent lists.
Note on spelling: In different records spellings used include “Mathew” or “Matthew”, “Dunnet” or “Dunnett” and “Barbour” or “Barber”. The text below generally follows the document used.
Return to The Blenheim People.
Matthew Dunnet and Margaret Barbour
The Old Parish Register for the Paisley parish of Abbey, Renfrew, recorded that Matthew Dunnet, son of John Dunnet and Sarah Sinklar [Sinclair], was born on 3 February and baptized on 19 February 1804.
Margaret Barbour was also born in Paisley in about 1808.
Family trees on Ancestry.com suggest that in addition to their children John and Janet, there was also a son David, who died before the departure of the Blenheim.
The marriage of Matthew Dunnet and Margaret Barbour was recorded on 8 December 1832 in the parish of Paisley Burgh or Low, and on 9 December 1832 in the parish of Paisley Middle.
In 1840 Matthew and Margaret sailed to New Zealand on the Blenheim with their two surviving children John and Janet. A child, Ellen Thomson Dunnet, was born at sea on the Blenheim.
The family lived in Wellington for 10-11 years, during which time further children were born – Annie (19 April 1843), Sarah (1846), and Margaret (1848-1850).
Annie’s birth registration gave her name as Anne, born 19 April 1843 at Wellington; father Matthew Dunnett, labourer, born at Paisley, High Church parish; mother Margaret Barbour.
The Wellington Independent of 6 April 1850 carried the following item: “Died on Tuesday, April 2, Margaret, daughter of Matthew and Margaret Dunnet, aged 20 months.” Also, the New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian of 6 April 1850 had the following: “At Wellington, of croup, on the 2nd inst., Margaret, daughter of Mr and Mrs Dunnett, of Tinakore road, aged 20 months.”
The family moved to Victoria, Australia, sometime around 1851, where Matthew worked as a miner.
Matthew Dunnett died on 2 October 1871 at Dunolly Hospital, Dunolly, Victoria. He was a miner aged 67, born in Paisley Scotland, 12 years in New Zealand, 20 years in Victoria, married 25 years to Margaret Barber, who he married when he was 28. His issue included John 37, David deceased, Janet 35?, Ellen deceased, Annie 27, Sarah 25 and Margaret deceased. The cause of death was inflammation and suppuration of the brain, debility, 6 weeks. Mathew was buried at Dunolly Cemetery.
Margaret Dunnett died on 8 April 1882. She was a widow of 74, born in Paisley Scotland, her father being David Barber, chair manufacturer. Margaret was 13 years in New Zealand, 29 in Victoria, and was married in Paisley, being married for 25 years to Matthew Dunnet, and was 25 when she married him. Issue included John 48, Janet 44, Ann 40 and Sarah 38. The cause of death was old age, 5 months. The informant was John Dunnet, son, Ararat. Margaret was buried at Ararat Cemetery, Victoria.
Annie Dunnet married James Gardner Welsh, a miner, in Inglewood, Victoria, and died in Collingwood, Melbourne on 20 February 1907. She had 13 children.
No records relating to Sarah Dunnet have been traced, apart from the references in her parents’ death registrations.
John Dunnet was born on 9 August 1833 and baptized on 26 December 1833, as recorded in the Old Parish Register for Paisley High Church, Renfrew, Scotland. His parents were Matthew Dunnet and Margaret Barbour.
John Dunnet married Mary Anne Lemin in 1868.
John Dunnett died in 1901 in Ararat, Victoria, Australia, aged 68. His parents were given as Matthew Dunnett and Margaret Barbour.
Janet Dunnet was born, probably in Paisley, around 1836 and was still living in Australia at the time of her mother’s death in 1882.
A Janet Dunnet married a William McAlpine in Victoria in 1866, and they may have had at least five children.
Ellen Thomson Dunnet
Ellen Thomson Dunnett was born at sea on the Blenheim on 16 November 1840 – Jessie Campbell’s Journal for 17 November 1840 notes, “Another added to our number by the birth of a daughter to a man from Risley. Mother and child doing well, this is the 5th birth on board all doing well…Lat.40-23. Long. 37-29.”
The New Zealand birth registration noted that Ellen Thomson, fourth child of Matthew Dunnett and Margaret Barbour both late of Paisley spouses, was born at sea on board of the Blenheim Emigrant Ship 16 November 1840. The registration was made on 24 January 1840.
It appears that Ellen died before 1871 when her father died.