James Ivory Diaries

7th of November 2014

James Ivory was an early settler who had large land holdings in and around Ipswich.


Transcriptions are now available of James Ivory's diaries written between 1863 and 1883. The transcriptions can be viewed on the Picture Ipswich website.

The information is contained in four parts:

Part 1 - Glossary and Index;

Part 2 - 1863 - 1870;

Part 3 - 1871 - 1880; and

Part 4 - 1881 - 1883.

The diaries provide a fascinating and often intriguing insight into the lives of the Ivory family in Scotland and Ipswich. In his diaries, James Ivory comments on the weather, politics, his many experiments and inventions as well as making reference to many early settlers in South East Queensland.

In 1840, at the age of 20 James Ivory travelled to Sydney and 3 years later, in partnership with David Graham, he took out a squatting licence for Eskdale run (Esk). James went on to acquire vast land holdings including Jinbi Jinbi, Charley's Creek Clooyar, Nukinenda, Town Marie and the former Bremer Mills at Bundamba which he purchased on 10 February 1868.

The mills had been established by Joseph Fleming and included Steam Saw Mills, a three storey flour mill, a boiling down works, tramways connecting the mill with the river, a church and school house, superintendents residence, cottages and huts for the workmen and a private dwelling for the owner and his family. The estate which consisted of 640 acres also included a quarry, stables for 20 horses, hay lofts, fruit and flower gardens.

Under the ownership of James Ivory, the former Bremer Mills property grew cotton, sugar cane and tobacco.

In 1866, James Ivory made his first comments about South Sea Islanders in his diaries when he mentioned Ryland passing by his property with a Polynesian servant. On 3 February 1868, he wrote "With South Sea Islanders I ought to turn in a handsome revenue yearly". Three years later, James was using Polynesian labour on his Bremer Mills property.

Following are two examples of diary entries about South Sea Islanders who worked for James Ivory.

Saturday 6th January 1872

Rainy. Planted Acacia Seeds along fence. Initiated Kanakas into sawing & splitting timber, very apt & amusing pupils. Had a hearty laugh at young Mithin who decorated himself behind with some long feathering grass & made his foundation very like a Peacocks tail, the Kanakas also had a good laugh on my saying "I believe Mithin chookie chookie."

Saturday 1st November 1873

Found some eels in the mud when cleaning out. Old boat builder busy at my boat. Took Willie over to the other side to look for coal shaft, saw where we supposed it to be. Taromie (Kanaka) rowed in the queerest zigzag fashion imaginable, & I was so disgusted with him that I gave up speaking & he eventually ran us into a tree on the bank, which disgusted him also. The cattle on the other side looking well.