Sarah Drylie (rear) with her children Reuben Williams, 8, and Elanora Williams, 6, who hold a photograph of Leslie Earle, the great-grandfather of Claire Macrae-Drylie, their grandmother (right).ALMOST 158 years ago William Earle packed up his family and stonemason’s tools and sailed from Devon, England, to establish a life in the south-west Victorian hamlet of Belfast.
Nanjing Night Net

His second-born son, also William, went on to help establish the town now known as Port Fairy.

In recent decades the direct descendants of William Earle Junior traced their family tree to find far-flung relatives in Australia and overseas.

Partly responsible for the ancestral quest was great-grandson Bruce Macrae, who yesterday said the hard work came to fruition with an Earle, Macrae, McKellar and Orr family reunion on the weekend. “We’ve got cousins scattered across various states and countries,” he said.

“We had a reunion in the Gold Coast a couple of years ago. We wanted to come back to where (William’s) family had arrived, Port Fairy.”

Mr Macrae said his research started about 40 years ago when he became interested in the influence William Jnr had in Port Fairy.

“He was chairman of practically everything,” he laughed.

William Jnr was president of the town’s mechanics institute and hospital board auxiliary and secretary of the agricultural, pastoral and horticultural show committee.

He was also mayor for three terms, the Port Fairy correspondent for The Standard and the Hamilton Spectator and wrote the town’s first history.

Mr Macrae has traced his family to England, Papua New Guinea and all voer Australia and with the help of sisters Claire Macrae-Drylie and Anne Macrae lured 52 people to the get-together. It included a family gathering and meal, old photographs, a sing-a-long, a visit to the cemetery to see their ancestors’ graves and a walking tour of the town.

“We went through the home they lived in when they first arrived and a lot of other places in Port Fairy that were relevant to William’s life,” Mr Macrae said.

“We’ve established relationships now … I would say it was a wonderfully successful occasion.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.