On 4 June 1841 James Robertson
and his wife Ann, nee Coupar, stood together on the deck of the emigrant
ship INDIA and watched as Greenock, the Scottish port from which they had
embarked, receeded into the distance. The couple had been married in
Errol, Perthshire on 9 February 1839. Their two months' old baby, Agnes,
born on 5 April 1841, travelled with them as did Ann's sister Betsy and
her husband Alexander Gibb.
The description of the
horrendous voyage of the 'India' cannot be better told than by visiting
the INDIA website at : http://www.home.gil.com.au/~bbiggar/india.htm
[note the few paragraphs on James and Ann Robertson on this site.]
Once you have read that let me
tell you something of these amazing pioneers, my G G Grandparents.
The Robertson and Coupar
families were natives of Errol, Perthshire, a village close to the Firth
of Tay and below a range of hills known as the Carse of Gowrie.
James Robertson was the eldest
son of James Robertson, blacksmith, and his wife Helen Sandeman who were
married at Errol on 21 June 1807. James was born in 1808. There were eight
Ann Coupar, James' wife, was
christened in Perth on 11 December 1814 and her parents were John and Ann
Coupar (sometimes Mary Ann) who were married in 1808. Other Coupar
children were born in Errol, which was probably Ann's birthplace.
In 1854 a tombstone was
erected in the Errol graveyard two years after Helen Robertson nee
Sandeman died in 1852. Her sons 'James, John and Alexander Robertson, now
in Australia' were responsible, and it reads:
"To the memory of their father James Robertson, late blacksmith in
Errol who died 4th August 1845 aged 64 years and their mother Helen
Sandeman who died 9th April 1852 aged 58 years. Also their four sisters -
Mary who died in infancy, Jane who died 22nd July 1842 aged 30 years.
Elizabeth, 24th February 1847 aged 37 years. Catherine 6th March 1853,
aged 33 years."
Engraved below this at a later
time was engraved the words 'The above Alexr. Robertson died in N.S.Wales
10th Oct. 1873 aged 46 years.' (It is still there, check it out if your in
At the time James left
Scotland in 1841 both his parents and the three sisters mentioned were
alive, and it is easy to imagine how cut off he and his brothers John and
Alexander 'now in Australia' must have felt when they learnt of their
It seems likely that James was
the first of the brothers to emigrate. His brother John - born in Errol in
1823 - married Margaret Stewart in Dundee in 1851 and followed suit
in the next couple of years. He was also a blacksmith. Alexander, born at
Errol in 1827, remained unmarried. His date of emigration is unknown but
he became a mining engineer at the Young goldfields in New South Wales,
and was killed in 1873 after falling down a mine shaft. (Not an uncommon
accident in the black of night and after a few pots.)
In Australia at last Robertson
and Gibb became partners as blacksmith and wheelwright respectively 10
miles north of Melbourne on the Sydney Road. (A wise move as all
travellers, then as now, know that the first ten miles are the most
testing for the newly arrived and if things are going to go wrong with the
horse and cart it'll happen in the first few miles out.)
The partnership prospered and
by 1848 they were able to purchase 640 acres of land nearby. They divided
the land and both built 'grand' homes in the Scottish style. James
called his home GOWRIE PARK and Gibb called his Meadowbank. (Memories of
Initially the land was the
runt of the group of plots that originally were ignored when they were
offered for sale in 1842 but these hardy gentlemen and their wives managed
to clear the land and begin their farming. The men carried on with the
smithy which was just as well as the Gold Rush started in 1851. Because of
this James was able to build the very substantial bluestone home that
still stands to this day.
James ran the farm with his
children till 1872 when he leased the property because he was becoming too
old for the work and the eight children were obviously not keen in
inheriting the tradition.
Ann died of dysentery in 1872
at the age of 58 years.
What a life. What a woman!
James finally succumbed in 1888 aged 80 years. At the time of his death
his assets were 46,434 pounds!!!!
NOT A BAD LIFE, IF YOU DON'T DROWN.
If there are persons out there who, having read these accounts, believe
they are related to the Robertson, Sandeman and Coupar families of Errol I
would be interested to hear from them. There is so much more to tell of
the Robertson's of Gowrie Park, Victoria, Austalia.
Conact me at [email protected]