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owen burns - went missing in Australia in 1924

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Thomas McAloon

Thomas McAloon Report 9 Dec 2012 18:23


I'm trying to find out what happened to my grandmother's brother Owen Burns who sailed from Glasgow, Scotland to Australia at the beginning of 1924. He arrived safely, sent a couple of letters home then was never heard from again. He would have been in his early twenties and had 4 siblings (Elizabeth, Ellen, Sarah and a brother whose name don't know)) all born in Glasgow. Any suggestions on how to go about finding out what happened to him would be greatly appreciated.



MarieCeleste Report 9 Dec 2012 18:27

Hello Thomas, welcome to the boards.

When was Owen born, and where? Who did he go to Oz with? Was he married?


MarieCeleste Report 9 Dec 2012 18:28

Posting this for background info:

Passenger lists leaving UK 1890-1960

Name: Owen BURNS
Date of departure: 25 March 1924
Port of departure: London
Destination port: Melbourne
Destination country: Australia

Date of Birth: 1906 (calculated from age)
Age: 18
Marital Status:
Sex: Male
Occupation: Machineman
Passenger recorded on: Page 15 of 25
Official Number: 135340
Master's name: Captain R Holland
Steamship Line: P. & O. Australia Via The Cape Service
Where bound: Australia
Square feet: 22495
Registered tonnage: 7007
Passengers on voyage: 590

Appeared to be travelling alone, last address 42 Turnet Street, Townhead, Glasgow.


Andrew Report 9 Dec 2012 18:29

Any idea of his parents names?



MarieCeleste Report 9 Dec 2012 18:48

There's a tree on ancestry has this family:

An Owen Burns born 1906, Glasgow, died "abt 1925" in Australia

Henry Burns 1869 – 1941
Ellen Bradley 1870 – 1950

Sarah Burns 1898 –
Elizabeth Burns 1903 – 1987
Ellen Burns 1903 –
Henry Burns 1905 –
John Burns 1906 –


MarieCeleste Report 9 Dec 2012 22:44

pms from Thomas:

"Amazed that you came up with this so quickly! That will be him as Turnet street in Townhead is where he came from.We were sure that he had sailed from Glasgow as my grandmother always remembered going to see him off - could the ship have called at London? He was single and sailed on his own. Any suggestions about how to follow this up? "


"Just saw your next reply. I think that must be him as the sibling names match and the father's name sounds right. We kind of thought that he had died but were never 100% sure. Could you point me towards the family tree on ancestry? I'd quite like to try and find out what happened to him."


MarieCeleste Report 9 Dec 2012 22:53

Thomas - the ship manifest clearly states that Owen Burns embarked at London - perhaps your gran saw him off on the first leg of his journey from Glasgow to London?

There are actually several trees on Ancestry with the same info (everyone copies off each other). If you're not a member of Ancestry then you can search and view the trees, and contact tree owners, on Mundia . You'll have to register, but it's free.


Patricia Report 10 Dec 2012 02:36

Hello Thomas,
Do you know if Owen had a second christian name?


Cherilyn Report 10 Dec 2012 03:27

FWIW, the Owen BURNS who died in Victoria in 1924 was aged 71, so that is not him!

No marriage found in Victoria either.

Thomas McAloon

Thomas McAloon Report 10 Dec 2012 12:33

hello everyone
Tried to post separate replies but messaging is a bit temperamental and hasn't posted messages.

Marie celeste - thanks for that. I had a look at the tree on mundia which was put together by a 2nd (I think) cousin. Have contacted her to ask if she had discovered anything about owen. You are probably right about it being the first leg of his journey

andy - sent you a reply but notice that it doesn't seem to have posted. Their names were henry burns and ellen bradley

patricia - I don't think he had a second christian name

cherilyn - thanks for looking. I've sent my relative a message to find out what she knows, if anything, about his death


MarieCeleste Report 10 Dec 2012 19:17

Thomas, the way you've done the reply on here is ideal! No need to send us individual ones.

Do let us know if you find anything else. It might be useful if you can find out his exact date of birth, can sometimes find records that way.

Just a thought, he may not have stayed in Australia, might have moved on elsewhere.

Thomas McAloon

Thomas McAloon Report 11 Dec 2012 20:40

hi marieceleste
Thanks for your help (and everyone else). I'll let you know if I come up with anything else. Should at least be able to find his date of birth.


Vanessa Report 17 Dec 2012 15:17

Hi Thomas, Found this death record for an Owen Burns. The father's name does not fit but the mother's does. It all depends on who is giving the information on the person and whether or not they knew the family history or not (in some cases, I think they just guessed).

Name: Owen Burns
Death Date: 24 May 1956
Death Place: Queensland
Father's Name: Owen
Mother's Name: Ellen
Registration Year: 1956
Registration Place: Queensland
Registration number: B013552
Page Number: 339

It may well be worth your while to purchase death cert as it may have more info on it.


Thomas McAloon

Thomas McAloon Report 17 Dec 2012 16:54

hi vanessa

Thanks for having a look. As you say his father's name may have been guessed. I'm about to get his DOB so it might be worthwhile getting a hold of the death certificate to see if the ages agree (or if it's on it). Do you have any idea how I might go about purchasing it? I contacted a genealogical society in australia but they haven't got back to me yet.

thanks again


Gins Report 17 Dec 2012 17:01

Thomas, have you got the birth certificate from Scotlands People?

Edit: Do you know when his sisters were born?

Thomas McAloon

Thomas McAloon Report 19 Dec 2012 22:23

hello gins

Thanks for that. I've just received lots of stuff from a second cousin - I think his birth certificate is amongst it. She may also know when his siblings were born. I'll try to post it soon.
Thanks for your interest



Gins Report 19 Dec 2012 22:36


Come back when you have sorted things out


Thomas McAloon

Thomas McAloon Report 23 Dec 2012 14:43

hello again gins

Owen was born on 24/08/1905 and his last known address was 395 (375?) King Street, West Melbourne. An enquiry of his landlady was made in 1929. She said he had left about 4 years previously to head to Adelaide or Western australia but she had heard nothing from him since.