The life of James Aikman (1840 - 1919) and Elizabeth Ferguson (1875 - 1969) - Drouin, Victoria, Australia

Some of the information on this page was provided by Glenn Rouse, a descendent of Eliza Aikman, in September 2017.

James Aikman (1840 - 1919) was the son of Adam Aikman (1801 - 1850) and Margaret McNie (1801 - 1863) from Stirling, Scotland.

Elizabeth Ferguson was the daughter of Andrew Ferguson and Agnes Thomson, who married on 15 December 1841 at Gargunnock just west of Cambusbarron (Ref 481/20/225). Elizabeth had a twin brother, Samuel Ferguson; both were baptised on 10 May 1841 (Ref 481/20/127) at Gargunnock.

James Aikman married Elizabeth Ferguson (1841 - 1902) in 1863 in Kincardine, Scotland (Ref 364/3)(his mother's home town). They had one daughter:

James and Elizabeth Aikman and their baby daughter Eliza migrated to Australia, arriving in Victoria on board the ship 'Bates Family' in June 1863. Also on the ship was James' brother Alexander Aikman who moved to and married in Geelong in 1864. It is assumed that James and Elizabeth lived in Geelong at first but this assumption may be incorrect.

James and Elizabeth Aikman moved (from Geelong?) to Drouin, Victoria by 1874 (see below for source). They had the following children born in the Colony of Victoria:


James and Elizabeth Aikman and their children moved to Drouin by 1874. This date is assumed as in 1896 he noted he had been living in the area for 22 years.


The Leader (Melbourne) published a letter in 1880 (or 1882) signed by James Aikman and others concerning the Railway Construction Bill which would result in the construction of railway lines in east Victoria, including a trail survey to start from Drouin, 'going by way of Upper Land Lang and Poowong township.

In an article about the Buln Buln Agricultural Show in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of 5 April 1882, James Aikman of Poowong, is mentioned as having exhibited onions 'the latter being very fine'.

The Warrigul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate of 28 June 1883 made reference to 'Aikman's Swamp', South Jeetho Road, Drouin Township south side.

The Argus (Melbourne) of 22 November 1883 noted that Adam Aikman, a labourer aged 20 and living at Longwarry, Drouin, suffered from 'incised wounds of the toes, caused by his axe slipping while he was chopping wood'. He was admitted to Alfred Hospital on 21 November.

Elizabeth Aikman, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Aikman, married Andrew Walls in 1884 (Vic BDM Ref 2868). They had four children:

At the Buln Buln Shire Council meeting of 1 February 1884, as reported in the Warrigul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate of 7 February 1884, James Aikman called attention to two bad parts of road between his selection and Rupels, ans asking to have the work carried out. The Age of 20 October 1884 noted that, at a meeting held at the Shire hall in Drouin the day before, James Aikman had moved a resolution to get the Drouin to Poowong line inserted into the then Railway Bill.

James Aikman may be the J Aikman appointed as a trustee of land temporarily reserved as a site for showyards at Drouin, as noted in The Argus of 12 June 1886. The Warrigul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate of 22 October 1886 noted Mr (probably James) Aikman regarding the extension of the Bull Swamp tramway ot Poowong East, so the farmers could get their trade to Warragul.

The Warrigul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate noted that J Aikman, of Longwarry East, had asked council to 'limit Mr Hick to 14 days to decide whether he will accept the council's offer re-road or not'. The same newspaper on 8 March 1887 noted that John Aikman of Korumburra had had his application for a (liquor) licence approved, as recorded in the Government Gazette of 4 March 1887. It was again approved in the Gazette on 3 May 1889 and recorded in the same newspaper, dated 7 May 1889. The same newspaper on 18 November 1887 noted that James Aikman had asked the council to proceed with the construction of a road. Again, in the same newspaper on 2 December 1887, it was noted in the Warragul Shire Council meeting of 29 November 1887 that J Aikman was complaining that the Poowong East Road was blocked up in several places and asking for trees to be removed.

Hugh Aikman, the son of James Aikman's brother John Aikman was granted a lease at Allambee according to the Government Gazettte of 20 July 1888, as noted in the The Warrigul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate of 24 July 1888. The relationship between Hugh and others in this family is not yet known.

Eliza Aikman, the Scottish-born first daughter of James and Elizabeth Aikman, married Edmund Parkinson (17 April 1855, Tumut, NSW - 31 August 1913, Lardner, Warragul) on 4 September 1889 at 'Glenburn', Poowong East (Vic BDM Ref 5918). They had one child:

On 25 September 1889, J Aikman was reported to have found a white pony horse, as reported in the Warrigul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate of 1 October 1889.


James Aikman features relatively regularly in the newspapers about Drouin and district in the 1890s.

On 25 February 1893, Adam Aikman was seriously injured when a limb from a tree fell on his head while he was cleaning scrub at Lardner's, near Drouin, according to The Age of 28 February 1893. (Note: This story is sometimes incorrectly attributed to Adam's cousin, the son of James Aikman's brother John Aikman, who lived north of Ballarat).

Adam Aikman was admitted in an unconscious condition to the Alfred Hospital and underwent an operation by Dr Cook, who extracted 10 pieces of skull bone from the surface of his brain, leaving an aperture in the skull about 3 inches square. He was said to be in a critical condition in the hospital.

The Daily Telegraph (Launceston) of 4 July 1893 ran a more detailed version of the story:

A Skilful Surgical Operation - A remarkable surgical case has recently been in the hands of the staff at the Alfred Hospital. Towards the end of February last (says the Age) a strapping young Gippsland settler, named Adam Aikman, was admitted into the institution in an unconscious condition, having sustained a compound fracture of the skull. Aikman received his injury whilst battling with a bush fire in the effort to save a neighboring settler's homestead. The place was surrounded by fire, and was threatened with destruction by the falling, which was imminent, of a tall tree that had been attacked by the flames. Aikman started to fell the tree, cutting at it in such a way as to make it fall away from the house. Whilst he was engaged in this task he was struck down by the fall of a limb which had been burned through by the fire. The sufferer was picked up and was conveyed next day to the hospital, where he underwent an operation by Dr. Cooke, who extracted 10 pieces of skull bone from the brain matter, portion of which protruded and was also removed. An opening of about 3 in by 4 in was left in the skull, but this has since been overgrown by the scalp, which has knitted perfectly and healed. A depression in the skull denotes the spot where the bone was removed. For some time Aikman was paralysed down the left side, but be has now almost recovered, and is able to walk and use both his arms. He left the hospital at the beginning of the week, but returned on a visit yesterday, when the injured part of his head was shaved and photographed as a scientific exhibit. The patient travels about alone, and appears to have full control over his senses, although at times he seems to have some difficulty in collecting his thoughts.

Adam returned to Drouin on 12 June 1893. According to the Warragul Guardian and Buln Buln and Narracan Shire Advocate of 26 June 1893:

Although a mere wreck of his former self, Mr Aikman is a living monument to surgical skill, for the terrible injuries to his head were such that the doctors had but the faintest hopes of his recovery. The may better be judged by the fact that there is still a hole in his head so large that a man's closed fist could be placed therein'. It concluded that 'Mr Aikman is under electric treatment, with a view to fully restoring the use of his limbs, and therefore his stay in Drouin was only a short time. He anticipates returning permanently in a few weeks' time'.

Andrew Aikman moved to Western Australia to mine in 1894. According to the Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) of 28 July 1949, Andrew '... braved the tempestuous crossing of the Bight in the little S.S. 'Adelaide' in 1894. Later that year saw him chasing the elusive yellow metal on the Nichol field in the Roebourne area, and in '96 he landed on the Nullagine field where boom times were prevailing.'

On 18 July 1894, Agnes Aikman married Mr William Thomas Parker of Cowwarr, eldest son of Mr J H Parker of Longwarry South (Victoria BDM Ref 4363). According to The Gippsland Farmers' Journal, and the Warragul Guardian and West Gippsland Advertiser, of 27 July 1894, the ceremony took place at the residence of Agnes' parents, Lardner. Her bridesmaids were 'Misses Maisey and Maggie Aikman' (the latter her sister Margaret). There are no children recorded from this marriage in Victoria.

Margaret Aikman married Thomas Hallyburton in 1895 (Vic BDM Ref 6262). They had the following children:

At a meeting of the Buln Buln Shire Council on 28 January 1896, Councillor Currie objected to Cr Aikman smoking 'what he designated cheap cigars' at the council table. According to the Warragul Guardian's article on this subject, on 31 January 1896, Aikman said 'that others had smoked frequently at the table. ... The matter was finally settled by Cr Aikman moving from the table, and finishing his cigar at the fireplace.

Aikman's interest in the railway line continued - the Railway Committee visited Drouin and Poowong East in early July 1896, according to the Warragul Guardian of 3 July 1896. The article noted that 'James Aikman, farmer, of Poowong East, and a shire councillor, said he had lived in the district 22 years. He had 240 acres of land, eight acres under cultivation.

The Age (Melbourne) of 26 August 1897, noted that a libel action 'of considerable local interest' was heard at the Warragul County Court that day, in which 'James Aikman, a councillor in the Buln Buln shire, sought to recover the sum of 99 pounds as damages for alleged libel from D P Hick, farmer and shire contractor, of Poowong East'. Hick had written a letter to the South Gippsland Express, Drouin, in which he stated that James Aikman was 'a past-master in the art of throwing mud, and cunning enough to get someone else to do his dirty work'. Hick, in turn, counter claimed similar damages 'for alleged libellous statements contained in a letter addressed to the journal named for publication', in which Hick stated that Aikman's letter was 'a lying epistle' and that Aikman was 'fitter for a rag and bone store and bottle gatherer than for taking shire contracts'. The evidence showed that there had been ill-feeling between the parties for some time past, and the judge said that he would give 'such a verdict as would make the parties realise the foolishness of bringing these actions against each other. He then gave Aikman a verdict of 2 pounds on the claim, without costs, and on the counter claim a verdict for Hick, of 2 pounds, and no costs. A more detailed description of the case was carried in the Warragul Guardian of 27 August 1897.

A severe fire on 2 February 1898 in Poowong East, 'a rich dairying district', destroyed James Aikman's property of a homestead of eight rooms and outhouses, stable, cow shed and stack of hay, besides furniture and all effects. According to The Age of 3 February 1898, Aikman saved his cattle but only had 200 pounds insurance on his property (suggesting it would not be sufficient to cover the loss. Later the same day, James' wife Elizabeth was reported missing. The article noted that 'she left where her burnt out homestead stood at daylight this morning to go to her daughter's, which is the adjoining farm. She never reached her destination. A search party was organised, and another party had left Drouin for the same purpose, but in the afternoon her son brought in the news that she was found in the creek, in an insensible condition, and she still remains so.. The Age (Melbourne) of 4 February 1898 related a similar story:

Cr Aikman's experience is worth relating. He had been fighting a fire for some days from another quarter, when another sheet of flame came up, and he and his family had to battle to save a few effects which were placed in traps, between the stable and the homestead. The mother, daughter and children then took refuge on the hill, and father and son remained surrounded by flame until the latter, nearly blinded and overpowered, had to retired to a distance where he could help his father if necessary. Mr Aikman then spent the night defending his vehicles, and saw barn, stable, outbuildings, stack and finally house go to the flames. Mrs Aikman, who was unconscious, is now slowly recovering. Mr Aikman's property was perhaps the model farm of the shire, comprising 240 acres of grazing land, with not a weed upon its surface. From end to end it is now a black cinder.

The Ballarat Star of 4 February 1898 ran an article on the fires noting that:

James Aikman, a son of Councillor Aikman, of Poowong East, came into Drouin with a thrilling story. He had just been to the chemist for something to stop the inflammation caused by the heat and smoke in his eyes. He said that a fire came up from the north-east on to his father's property, admittedly one of the best in that locality. ... "It came on like a wall of fire 20 feet high" said young Aikman."


Jessie Aikman, 'fourth daughter of James Aikman, Esq., of "Glenburn", Poowong East', married Francis Edward Burnep/Burnip, 'second son of the late ... Burnep, Esq., of Carpendeit' on 4 July 1900 at her parent's residence (Victoria BDN Ref 5264 - 'Burnip' in this record). 'C Aikman' (probably Catherine), the bride's sister, was a bridesmaid. Jessie was also known as Jeanie. They had two children: Charles Albert Tyers Burnip (born 1903, Victoria BDM Ref 29385), and Francis James Burnip (born 1906 (Victoria BDM Ref 26250)

Marian Aikman (born 1874) married John McGregor Brown in 1902 (Victoria BDM Ref 315). They had two children:

Adam Aikman (who had suffered from a serious head injury in 1893) died on 11 August 1903 in Melbourne, of 'gastric carcinoma and exhaustion' from which he was said to have suffered for six months. He left everything in his will to his sister Margaret.

Jessie Katherine Aikman Walls, the daughter of Andrew and Elizabeth Walls (nee Aikman) died on 30 January 1904. (Vic BDM Ref 8070). Jessie Katherine Aikman Walls's death was reported in the The Argus of 1 February 1904 and The Australasian on 6 February 1904. She was said to have died at her parent's house at 64 Paterson St, North Carlton, on 30 January 1904, aged 13 years and 6 months. Her sister, Isabella Skien (also shown as Stan) Walls, died on 13 September 1904 (Vic BDM Ref 875, also The Argus, 15 September 1904).

As if the family had suffered enough, Isabella and Jessie' father, Andrew Walls, died in October 1904. The Camperdown Chronicle of 1 October 1904 reported the death as follows:

It will be learned with deep and general regret that Mr. Andrew Walls, third son of the late Mr. John Walls, died yesterday, at his residence, Carlton, after a brief illness. The deceased, who recently sustained a severe loss by the death of his eldest child, Isabella, had been ailing slightly for a short time previously, and the shock occasioned by the demise of his daughter was indirectly responsible for the sickness which preceded his death. He leaves a widow—a daughter of the late Mr. James Aikman, of Mortlake and four children. Mr. Andrew Walls was a native of Dalgety, Scotland, and came to Camperdown with his parents when a boy. He entered the Government service, and before removing to Melbourne, twelve years ago, to take up an important post in the head office of the Lands department, occupied a position in tho local branch. He was closely identified with temperance work ever since he was a lad, first in connection with the Band of Hope and after wards with the Rechabites' Lodge. Deceased was 55 years of age. Mr. Robert Walls, accompanied by Mrs. John Stevenson and Miss Charlotte Walls, upon receipt of the sad in telligence yesterday, proceeded to Melbourne, and it is not yet known whether the remains will be brought to Camperdown for interment or not, but in the event of that course being decided upon it is probable that the funeral will be arranged for tomorrow afternoon.

These three deaths left Andrew's widow, Elizabeth Aikman, with two children - John (who was now 18) and James Aikman Walls (who was now 14).

James Aikman junior, of Poowong East, was thrown from a young horse on 22 March 1905 and broke his right arm, according to The Argus of 23 March 1905.

Marian Brown (nee Aikman) (born 1874) died in 1907 (Victoria BDM Ref 4383)).

James Aikman appears to have sold all his property and stock in January 1908. An advertisement in the West Gippsland Gazette of 28 January 1908 lists all the property for sale, sold through Skews, Hunter and Co of Drouin.

James Aikman (born 1880) may be the person with that name who married Janet Patterson in 1909 (Victoria BDM Ref 1248). It is not known if they had children; there are no children born with parents by those names.


The West Gippsland Gazette (Warragul) of 1 July 1913 included an article on the marriage of John ('Jock) Aikman, son of James Aikman of Drouin, to Elspeth Bremner, 'daughter of Mrs Bremner' (Victoria BDM Ref 4886). The article noted that the bridesmaid was Miss Kitty Aikman, John's sister - probably Catherine.

William John Parkinson (born 14 August 1891), a Presybterian and the only son of Edmund and Eliza Parkinson (nee Aikman), married Marjorie Stephens (12 July 1893 - April 1932) at St Joseph's Catholic Church in South Yarra on 11 July 1914 (Vic BDM Ref 7241). William and Marjorie Parkinson had the following children:

James Aikman (born 1840) died in Drouin, Victoria, in 1919.

1920s - Jock Aikman in the newspapers

John 'Jock' Aikman was a noted Highland piper. He was noted in the West Gippsland Gazette of 27 November 1923 and again on 8 September 1925 when he gave 'in Highland costume, some spirited solos on the Scottish bagpipe'.

1930s - death of Bill Parkinson's wife, re-marriage

Marjorie Parkinson, the wife of William Parkinson of 57 Moonya Road, Murrumbeena, died in April 1932 according to The Argus of 16 April. She was only 37. After she died, William (Bill), placed an advertisement in the local newspaper for a nanny. The nanny was Mary Ann ('Min') Corry (born 20 May 1885, Echuca), the daughter of John Joseph Corry and Susannah White and widow of Jeremiah Sullivan, with whom she had three children.

Bill Parkinson and Mary Sullivan (nee Corry) were married on 7 December 1933 at the Catholic missionary at 101 Gore St, Fitzroy.(Vic BDM Ref 10946). Unfortunately, Mary Anne contracted influenze and measles and died on 9 July 1939 at the age of 54 (not 48 as recorded), also at 57 Moonya Road, Carnegie (Argus, 11 July 1939). Mary (Min's) children were in their 20s when she died.

1940s - Bill Parkinson marries again, deaths of Aikman siblings

Bill Parkinson again placed an advertisement, this time for a wife and Enid Guest responded to the advertisement. Enid was supposedly widowed from, but was never actually married to, Roderick Norman McLead. Roderick McLeod was previously married to Jessie McDougall and that had six children together. After Jessie died in 1952, Enid and Roderick lived together. After Roderick died, Enid responded to Bill's advertisement. They were married on 22 January 1940 at the Office of the Government Statist in Queen St, Melbourne. They were married for 12 years.

John ('Jock') Aikman died at Konara Private Hospital, Drouin, on 15 April 1941 according to his death notice in The Argus and The Age of 16 April 1941. Only his wife Elspeth is mentioned, suggesting they had no children. There are no children obviously registered to this couple in the Victorian BDM records online.

Margaret Hallyburton (nee Aikman) (born 1872) died on 6 May 1944. Her husband Thomas Hallyburton had predeceased her. Her brother James Aikman of Drouin was one of the two executors to the will.

Elizabeth Walls (nee Aikman) (born about 1864) died in 1944 (Vic BDM Ref 22341). Her obituary was carried in the Camperdown Chronicle of 12 December 1944:

The death of Mrs Elizabeth Walls, which occurred on Monday, November 4, removed a well-known and highly respected citizen of Camperdown. Deceased, who had been ailing for some time, was the daughter of the late Mr. James Aikman, Mortlake, and was born at Warrnambool 88 years ago. The late Mrs Walls was the widow of Mr Andrew Walls, and was a staunch member of the Camperdown Presbyterian Church, playing a prominent part in church affairs and charity works. She is survived by a daughter, Alison (Mrs Ron H. Kerr) and three sons, John, James and William. The funeral was largely attended and took place to the Camperdown cemetery on Tuesday last. There were many beautiful floral tributes. Services were held at her late residence and at the graveside, the Rev. G. Ross Williams officiating. The coffin-bearers were Messrs J. Walls, W. A. Walls (sons), R. H. Kerr (son-in-law), and C. Henderson (nephew), and the pall was suppotred by Messrs W. R. Henderson, A. Henderson, C. Chisholm, S. Kerr, W. Powling, E. O. Screen. J. Hill, and H. Fisher.

Jessie Catherine Aikman, 'late of Mortlake and spinster', (born 1870) died on 9 May 1946. The Argus of 10 May 1946 stated that she was the 'daughter of the late J and I Aikman, and sister of Isabel (Mrs Walls) [sic - this was Elizabeth], William, and Janet'. Her probate notice was carried in The Argus on 5 December 1946). Could this be a related Aikman family with similar names?

The Argus of 25 November 1946 reported the wedding of Jean Margaret Aikman, younger daughter of Mrs James Aikman of Drouin, to Lance William Neville, ex AIF. This would suggest that James had died by that time as James is not mentioned.

The Kalgoorlie Miner of 9 May 1949 made reference to 'Mr Andrew Aikman (80), the Pilbara mining district's oldest resident prospector since the field's discovery in the early 1880s. The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) of 28 July 1949 ran the following article on Andrew Aikman who left for 'southern parts':

This week the towns-folk farewelled a very old and much respected associate in the person of Andrew Aikman. Andy, born in Clunes, Victoria, back in '68, braved the tempestuous crossing of the Bight in the little S.S. 'Adelaide' in 1894. Later that year saw him chasing the elusive yellow metal on the Nichol field in the Roebourne area, and in '96 he landed on the Nullagine field where boom times were prevailing. Apart from a trip to Java and Singapore in 1913, and a few months visiting his home folks in Victoria in 1920, he remained faithful to this camp. To Andy's credit lies the finding of the 'Blue Spec', 'The Victory' and one or two other rich shows of other days. Tall, (much over 6 feet), enjoying remarkably good health, but somewhat enfeebled nowadays, he has gone to southern parts for the necessary good care and attention that declining years demand, taking with him a very generous measure of the district's good Wishes.

1950s - deaths of Catherine Aikman, James Aikman, and Bill Parkinson

Catherine Aikman died in 1950. Her probate notice in The Argus of 17 January 1950 states that she was 'late of 214 North Road, Brighton, spinster'. Her brother James Aikman, a farmer of Drouin, was noted as the executor to her will.

Jessie McDougall, the third wife of Bill Parkinson, died in 1952.

Bill Parkinson died of cerebral arteriosclerosis, possibly due to a burst aneurysm on 7 July 1956 at 57 Moonya Road. He was 64.

James Aikman (born 1880) died in 1957.

Page created 12 July 2014, updated 7 October 2017. Copyright 1985 - 2017, Andrew Warland. email: andrewwarland(at)