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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (R)
Robertson, James and Ann

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 : [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 other children.

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 the area.)

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 deaths.

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 back home?)

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!!!!


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

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