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George Brand: A Convict Success Story – Part 1


Introducing George Brand

Australia was built on the backbone of convicts and the stories of these men and women are as vast and varied as the lives they left behind.  Whilst some of these people failed to ever get out of the system, many others went on to establish a successful life in Australia.  One such convict is George Brand – George and his family epitomise a convict success story.

A Convict Ploughing Team

Stirling in the 18th Century

George was born about 1820 in Culross, Perthshire, Scotland marrying Isabella Duncan on 10 January 1840 in Denny, Stirlingshire, Scotland.1,2,3,4.  By the 1851 Census, George, an agricultural labourer, Isabella and their four children, David, Isabella, Andrew, and George were living in Larbert Village, Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland.1  Larbert is a small village on the main road between Stirling and Falkirk and in this era was experiencing economic growth with an increase in industry.2  The prosperity of the town increased as the Scottish Railway Company built the Perth to Glasgow railway which  went through the Larbert township.3  George was one of the many to benefit from the building of the railway as he took up employment as a porter.4.

The Scottish Railway Company opened the Glasgow to Perth line on 22 May 1848 giving many people opportunities for employment.5  George was employed to work on the railways and in fact, his first conviction in 1849, has him charged with theft whilst employed as a porter with the Scottish Railway Company.6  He was aged 29, at this his first offence, so it would seem that in working for the railways he was tempted to use his position to acquire the property of others.7  On the 6th August 1849 George plead guilty to stealing two puncheons containing whiskey or other spirits and was sentenced to four calendar months in Stirling Prison.8  It would appear that this experience of the Scottish court system did little to dissuade him from his new pastime of acquiring other people’s property.

George Brand: A Convict Success Story – Part 2

George Brand: A Convict Success Story – Part 3

George Brand: A Convict Success Story – Part 4

George Brand: A Convict Success Story – Part 5

Do you have a convict ancestor?  Click on the below image to start searching for your convict ancestors at Findmypast today.

Discover your convict ancestors at findmypast


Image Credit: A Convict Ploughing Team. Public Domain, Accessed 15 June 2016.

Image Credit: Stirling in the 18th Century. Public Domain, Accessed 15 June 2016.

  1. 1851 England, Wales, and Scotland Census Transcription. Accessed 11 May 2016.
  2. ‘Larbert’. Accessed 10 June 2016.
  3. ‘Larbert’. Accessed 10 June 2016.
  4. ‘Scottish Central Railway’. Accessed 10 June 2016.
  5. ‘Scottish Central Railway’. Accessed 10 June 2016.
  6. National Records of Scotland. Source Information: Country Code: GB, Repository code: 234, Reference: AD14/52/373. Accessed 15 May 2016.
  7. Erickson, Rica. The Brand on his Coat: Biographies of some Western Australian Convicts. Nedlands: University of Western Australia Press, 1983.
  8. National Records of Scotland. Source Information: Country Code: GB, Repository code: 234, Reference: AD14/52/373. Accessed 15 May 2016.


  1. Jack Taylor
    Jack TaylorReply
    October 29, 2017 at 5:19 am

    I saved your website to my favorites. I never knew how interesting Australian history was until I read your article about George Brand. I also didn’t know that Australia was built by convicts. I look forward to reading more of your article on Australian history. Thanks again for a great article.


    • Megan
      October 29, 2017 at 5:24 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read.  Australia has a very interesting history as we were founded as a penal colony and have never had a war on our soil, although we did come very close in WWII!

  2. Penelope
    January 12, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    If you’re gonna steal something, it may as well be Scotch Whisky. I don’t blame your ancestor George. Everything happens for a reason, and the chain of events of his crime & punishment lead to your origin story! Very fascinating stuff, love how you’re doing all this research!

    • Megan
      January 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Penelope

      It is amazing what George ended up managing to achieve, given his sticky fingers got him into so much trouble! Continue reading the 5-part story to see his full journey and the legacy he left behind.


  3. Lane
    January 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Amazing. It’s amazing what (or who) countries are built on. While the wealthy and popular take the credit, it’s was on the backs of the misfortunate that we prosper on.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Megan
      January 13, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Lane

      You are so right! The hard work of the convicts built Australia into the country it became. I am proud to have an ancestor who, whilst he did the wrong thing in his home country, came here and made a true go of it!


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