Bruce R. Bickerstaff

Bruce is an Australian who created this web site around twenty years ago when he was living in Sydney and running a small business in the travel industry. One day he would love to get around to finishing his pilot's license, and then learn to fly a seaplane and travel around the Pacific. If you want to see a picture of what he wants to eventually buy (in his dreams that is) then click here. You can help Bruce achieve his dream by buying his book. We might as well keep the money in the family, right?

Bruce's family tree is as follows:

Hugh Bickerstaff (agricultural labourer) married Elizabeth Wood. All other details unknown including number of children. Probably lived in either County Down or County Antrim as this is where almost all of the Irish Bickerstaff's were living at that time. Had at least one son, Hugh, who was born in Ireland in 1806 or 1807.

Hugh Bickerstaff jnr. (agricultural labourer) married Margaret Howatson, who was born 1816 in Sorn, Ayreshire. They had six children; Jane Howatson (born 17/2/1843), Hugh (born 29/1/1845), John (born 14/3/1849), William Howatson (born 29/12/1851), David (born 25/5/1854), and Elizabeth (born 1840). The family lived at 50 Polquheys Hill in New Cumnock, Ayeshire, Scotland. Hugh snr. died in New Cumnock at 10:45pm on 25 March 1861, aged 55 (according to death certificate). It is believed that Hugh jnr married Ellen Fergusson in 1873 in Maybole, Ayreshire.

In the old cemetery at New Cumnock there is a grave stone as shown here:

The headstone has the following inscription:

"In memory of Hugh Bickerstaff who died 25 March 1860 aged 55 years and of Margaret Howatson his wife, who died 30 July 1889 aged 73 years, also their children Jane who died 25 July 1860 aged 17 years, and William Howatson who died 13 January 1883 aged 29 years and is interred at Bruce, South Australia"

The ship "Loch Fyne" arrived in (South) Australia on the 9th March, 1879. The captain of the ship was T.H Martin and there were 436 passengers, with 6 births and 10 deaths during the journey. On board were William Howatson Bickerstaff aged 28 years, labourer, (my great grandfather), David Bickerstaff aged 25 years, labourer and Agnes Bickerstaff (nee McGill) aged 23 years (wife of David). One of their brothers, John, went to America. Here is a link to a March 1879 newspaper article, kindly brought to my attention by Alastair McGill. Curiously, it provides a list of passengers that only includes William Bickerstaff.

If you visit the 'Welcome Wall' memorial at the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour in Sydney (or their web site), you will see the names of William, David and Agnes listed.

David and Agnes settled in South Australia and had seven children. They later moved to Queensland where they died in 1943 and 1947 respectively, and are buried in Roma. They still have descendants living in and around that area of Queensland.

William H. Bickerstaff married Marion Andrew 3/9/1880 and had a son in Adelaide the following year (Hugh Bruce Bickerstaff). William and Marion later moved to Broken Hill in New South Wales, where William later died.

Hugh B Bickerstaff married Winifred Mary Taylor in June 1915. They had seven children:
Freda Marion born 20/4/1916
Jean Francis born 21/8/1917
Margaret June (Peg) born 23/6/1919
Hugh Alan and Bruce Campbell born 29/8/1920
Betty Bawden born 28/5/1924, and Ian Southey born 6/1/1926

. . . who all later moved to Melbourne.

Bruce Campbell Bickerstaff married Grace Jean Boyne Anderson and had four children; Bruce, Hugh, Anne, and Sally. Sadly, Bruce senior passed away in May 2001. His identical twin brother, Hugh, subsequently passed away in August 2013, just prior to his 93th birthday. May they rest in peace.

Robert Bickerstaff and family

Robert Bickerstaff has an impressive international reputation both as an outstanding baritone and voice teacher. His singing has encompassed the major dramatic baritone roles of the traditional and contemporary operatic repertoire from Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Massenet, Verdi to Britten, Tippett and Shostakovic; lieder and song; oratorio and concert repertoire; ballads and music theatre.

Robert Bickerstaff was born in Sydney, Australia of a distinguished musical and theatrical family.

After winning most of the major singing scholarships and awards in Australia, he went to Paris, where he studied with Dominique Modesti.

His exciting career began when he sang at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris where he sang the role of Sean in Gilbert Becaud's work, Opera d'Aran. In France and Belgium he sang Herod in Massenet's Herodiade, Thoas in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, Zurga in Bizet's Les Pecheurs de Perles, Tonio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci at Marseilles, Bordeaux, Nice, Toulouse and Liege.

Robert Bickerstaff was invited to become the principal dramatic baritone at Sadlers' Wells Opera in London where he remained for six years. He first appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1974. He performed regularly as principal baritone and as guest artist with the Welsh National Opera.

His engagements have taken him throughout Britain, Europe, USA, Australia and Japan. In the USA he sung for the Pittsburgh Opera in roles such as Count Almaviva in the Marriage of Figaro, Enroci in Lucia di Lammermoor with Beverly Sills and Escamillo in Carmen with Tatiana Troyanos. His extensive repertoire includes more than sixty operatic roles, most of the major oratorio and concert repertoire, numerous song cycles and hundreds of songs in more than twelve languages. Robert Bickerstaff has performed in association with distinguished international artists such as Sir Colin Davis, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Eugene Goosens, Jean Martinon, Edward Downes, Anton Guadagno, Victoria de los Angeles, Richard Tucker, Rita Hunter, Nocolai Ghiaurov, Jose Van Damme, Robert Massard, Beverly Sills, Tatiana Troyanos, Jill Gomez, Yvonne Kenny, Ezio Flagello, Lauris Elms, Donald Smith and Norman Bailey.

His teaching has been acclaimed in England, where he was Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London, of which he is an Honorary Associate. He was tutor of singing at the famous King's College Cambridge University. Students have come to him from all over Australia, from New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan many of whom have won awards and performed professionally.

He is a regular visitor to Japan where he given recitals, concerts, singing lessons and workshops. He will be returning to the UK next year for concerts and BBC broadcasts. Later this year in Sydney, Larrikin Records will be issuing a CD of his singing on a new label, Herada.

His varied talents and interests have included, being Music Consultant to SBS Multicultural Television; voice and presentation tutor for television and radio presenters in Australia on Channels 0, 7 and 0 and for Singapore Broadcasting; choral conductor of the Willoughby Orchestra Choir; judge and adjudicator of major singing competitions; writer of articles for music magazines; Director of the Asia Pacific Opera Centre; Director and Chairman of the Artistic Board of McDonald College of the Performing Arts, Deputy Chairman of the Cultural Council of the City of Sydney and Chairman of Marketing and Development for the Sydney Performing Arts Challenge (The City of Sydney Eisteddfod).

Email address: bigbix (at)

Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999

Dear Bruce

Trust you and all are well.Would you be kind enough to place on the Bicks web page a message to say that Ann Howard's (my wife) new book "After Barnardo 1" will be available in Australian bookshops from October 1999. It is the stories of voluntary child migrants sent from the UK to Australia between 1921 and 1965. It has unique insights into abandonment, child slavery, disempowerment, silence, suppression. They are stories of tenacity, humour, courage, success. Compulsive reading.
Thanks very much Bruce.

Robert Bickerstaff

Roy Pedersen (who married Pat Bickerstaff - who is Robert's sister) and who also lives in Sydney, Australia, writes:

"I have visited your page numerous times and must congratulate you on a wonderful site and on its worldwide reception .... Keep up the magnificent job that you are doing"

(Pat is listed in the International Genealogical Index as a Bickerstaff researcher, so is someone worth talking to if you are interested in Irish and Australian Bickerstaff's ... and quite clearly an excellent judge of web sites ... BB)

To contact Roy, write to mpe66443(at)

David and Vicky Bickerstaff

Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999

Hello Bruce ...we are still alive and just back from holidays fact Caloundra ....and I just thought that I should have looked up your dad and mum ...(I have met your dad a couple of times in the past)

Anyway it has been a big year - lots of travel in Australia as well as to the US as I now work for a US company based in San Francisco - they are called PeopleSoft and a large software solution company.

Email: bickers (at)

My other eMAIL (the one that I work with on a day to day basis is david_bickerstaff (at)

Tim Bickerstaff

Thu Apr 30 1998


I came across your web page while I was surfing. I and my family are another Bickerstaff from Sydney. I don't really know what I should write, but I will tell you a bit about my family, and if you want I can maybe get my Mum to write a bit more.

My grandfather William Bickerstaff moved from Liverpool England to Australia in the 1930s. We still get Christmas cards and stuff from the Ward family from over there. I'm not sure of the exact connection. Anyway, William Bickerstaff married Patricia Wragge, and then went off to the war, where he was a POW in Europe. He had three children: Philip (my Dad), Susie and Judy. Susie and Judy are now both married. My dad married Carol Rees in 1977 and have three children: Tim (me), 19, Paul, 16, and Alex, 16 (Paul and Alex are twins). We live in East Ryde (9878 4495). My granfather died in 1991, after prolonged respiratory problems. My grandmother died in 1995.

I don't really know that much more. My Mum did a bit of family history stuff a while ago, but mostly on her family. Still, she may know more, if you would like to contact her.

Tim Bickerstaff
Email address: timbick (at)

John Bickerstaff

Bruce Bickerstaff wrote:

Hi John, Have you been to our web page at yet?

... and John responded:

Have now! Not bad at all. Most interesting in fact. Certainly squashed any theories I had on the origin of my name (which were completely imaginary). Anyway, well done I say :)

Another interesting point I picked up was yours & your fathers name (Bruce) is also my fathers name. It's not often you become aware of so many Bruce Bickerstaff's in one day.

Bruce wrote: Don't be a stranger - call in and say hi sometime.

I certainly will. In fact, I'll write a little blurb about myself for your web page if you like. I'll compile something over the next week or so. I am currently running a consultancy in Napier, NZ.

By the way, I must ask, where did you track me down? I'm exceedingly curious. :0

Looking forward to hearing from you,

John Bickerstaff

Paul Bickerstaff

Subject: Re: The shortage of Bickerstaff's in cyberspace

Hello there!

Bruce Bickerstaff wrote

Just a very quick cheerio from (seemingly) the only other Bickerstaff lurking around out here. Have you come across any others in your travels?

Paul responds

Not in cyberspace. There are a few in scattered places. My family is based in New Zealand. I actually have a cousin of some sort called Bruce Bickerstaff back there.

I have not looked into the family tree in much detail. My (late) father did many years ago but I understand was stymied by records being burnt in the great fire of London. Well I guess he must have traced it a long way back. A first cousin, Gail, told me at Dad's funeral that he had given her all of his stuff on the family tree. About all I know is that my great grandparents came out from Liverpool which I believe is not too far from that Bickerstaff hamlet.


Paul wrote to me again in 2005 to add the following information:

Hi Bruce

It is something like 10 years since you last contacted me in Idaho. I notice though that you still have the correspondence regarding Bickerstaffs in cyberspace listed on your page. I am now settled back in New Zealand and living in Te Atatu South, Auckland. I currently run a consultancy and services business, Infoics, in bioinformatics and technical computing. Contact details for Bickerstaffs in NZ, including me, are available through . I am very wary of having an email address published but pbickers at orcon dot net dot nz should reach me.

I am interested in hearing from any Bickerstaffs keen on genealogy and family history. The Bickerstaff clan in NZ is mostly descended from Robert Bickerstaff and Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Freeman who came to New Zealand in 1883 from Bootle (Liverpool) and settled in Napier. They had many children:

John Henry born 1877 Bootle, married Kate Wadman, 1900
Robert Charles born 1878 Liverpool, married Elizabeth Exeter, 1904
George born 1880 Liverpool, married Jessie Clague, 1911
James born 1881 Liverpool, married Eva Exeter, 1912
Hugh William born 1883 Liverpool, no issue
Charles Herbert born 1885 Napier, married Louisa Burgess, 1912
Frederick born 1887 Napier, died as baby
Mary Elizabeth (Polly) born 1890, Napier, no issue
Dorothy Florence (Dolly) born 1893, Napier, married John Lister, 1917
Joseph (Joe) born 1895, Napier, married Letitia Harper, 1930
unnamed born 1898, Napier, died as baby

All marriages have surviving descendants and the name continues in the lines of John, George, James (my grandfather) and Charles.

Ancestors of Robert did spell their surname as Bickerstaffe.

Are you aware of genetic tests available for genealogical purposes? Several companies offer tests including Oxford Ancestors , DNA Heritage and Family Tree DNA

These may help for example in establishing a link between the Irish Bickerstaffs and the Lancashire ones. Potentially it can also tell whether our ancestors were Norse or Briton etc. I was quite interested in pursuing this until I discovered, to put matters delicately, that my surname was inherited through the female line and therefore my Y chromosome wouldn't be of much use.


Iain Bickerstaff

Mon Feb 28 2000

Sorry this is short and not as you requested, I'm not a very good typist and have got to get back to work. My name is Duncan Ian Bickerstaff, known as Iain, father Duncan, my uncle is Norman, born Preston, Lancs. My mother was Stella Wright, born London. Norman did our family tree, Sommerset House London. A lot of my information tallies with yours, and I have copies of births, deaths, marriagies, and a bit more which I am happy to share. I am living in Adelaide. South Australia and came over from the U.K. in 1973.

I am a computer dummy so forgive me if things go wrong. Got to go now as running late. Will be in touch, hope to here from you. Iain

Email: (no longer operational)

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Bruce R Bickerstaff Copyright © 2002 - 2013

Last updated August 2013

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