The Ancestry of the Rev. Dr. Charles W. Gordon (the novelist Ralph Connor)
By John Blythe Dobson
[Note: This is the archival version. A corrected and updated version of this article is also available.]
The Rev. Daniel Gordon and his wife Mary Robertson,
parents of the Rev. Dr. Charles W. Gordon,
from Pioneer Life in Zorra, between pages 352 and 353.
(Click for larger image.)
After reading John Richthammers fascinating account in our last issue on the Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon (better known by the pseudonym of Ralph Connor under which he wrote his well-known novels), our interest in learning more regarding its subject’s forebears was piqued by the statement in MacKay’s Pioneer Life in Zorra (1899) that the ancestry of his father’s mother (not named) “can be traced to the celebrated Stuarts of Fincastle, and through them to Mary, Queen of Scots.” Now while it is absolutely impossible that this family could have descended directly (if that is what is meant) from Mary, Queen of Scots, there is nothing inherently unlikely in the idea of descent in some manner from the Stewarts (later Stuarts) of Fincastle. Failing, however, to establish the parentage of the Rev. Daniel Gordon (with whom we dispense briefly at the beginning), our attention turned to the accomplished family of his wife, Mary Robertson, which occupies the bulk of this paper.
G O R D O N
The Rev. Daniel Gordon, pastor of Harrington Presbyterian Church, Zorra, Oxford County, Ontario, said to have b. 22 March 1822 at Tummelside, near Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire, Scotland, and apparently still alive in 1899 (when MacKay speaks of him in the present tense). There is an eighteen-page chapter on this man, with portraits of him and his wife, in MacKay’s Pioneer Life in Zorra (1899), some of the material in which is repeated in the same authors essay on their son in Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad (1900). According to Mackay (and we here quote only the passages which seem likely to contain clues as to our subject’s origins), “In 1840 Gordon entered Marshall College, Aberdeen, and here completed his Arts course in 1844. In 1845 he entered the Free Church Assembly Hall, Aberdeen, where he studied theology for three years. Then going to Edinburgh he studied for two years longer under such professors as Buchanan, Cunningham, Duncan, Candlish, and Fleming. On July 12th, 1849, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Dunkeld, and in the following month he set sail for Canada. He came here under the auspices of the Colonial Committee of the Free Church of Scotland.” He m. in 1851 at Sherbrooke, Québec, Mary Robertson, b. 1822-23 (aged 58 in 1881, but baptism not found) in Scotland, d. 1890, a graduate of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. They are enumerated with four children in the 1881 census of Zorra Tp. West.
Among their issue was:
The Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon, b. 13 Sept. 1860 at Indian Lands (now St. Elmo), adjoining Kenyon Township, in Glengarry County, Canada West, where his father was then stationed. He m. 28 Sept. 1899 at Toronto, Helen S. King, b. 1875-76 (aged 23 at her marriage) at Toronto, daughter of John Mark King and Jane McPherson Skinner.
R O B E R T S O N
From MacKay we learn that Mary Robertson, mother of the novelist, was “a sister of the famous author of Christie Re[d]fern’s Troubles, Miss M.M. Robertson … [and] the daughter of a Scotch Congregational minister.” Thanks to the well-documented article on this sister, Margaret Murray Robertson, in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography which mentions the suggestion “that she influenced the writing of her nephew Charles William Gordon” the parentage of Mary Robertson is readily established. This article should be compared with those on two other of the siblings likewise treated in the Dictionary, Andrew Robertson and Joseph Gibb Robertson. Further confirmation of the relationship comes from a sketch of Gordon the novelist in an 1898 biographical compendium, which supplies the name of his maternal grandfather as James Robertson.
Another valuable source on this family is a catalogue of the graduates of the University of Vermont, where the three brothers Andrew, George, and William Robertson, attended. At the time of their admission to the University, all three were recorded as having been born at Stewartfield, Aberdeenshire, and the birthdates given for them differ by no more than one day from those given in the parish register of New Deer. The eldest (Andrew) is recorded as being resident at Derby, Vermont, where the family lived briefly on their way to Canada, while the younger sons are recorded as resident at Sherbrooke, Québec.
We begin our account of the Robertsons with the Rev. James Robertson and his wife Elizabeth Murray, at the end discussing evidence which identifies one likely sibling of each of them.
The Rev. James Robertson, of Sherbrooke, Québec, d. in Sept. 1861. He m. 2 June 1807 at New Deer, Aberdeenshire, Elizabeth Murray, d. [before 1833] in Scotland, according to an 1881 biographical sketch of her son Joseph. For reasons discussed below under the account of her presumed nephew, the Rev. Andrew Murray, she was probably the Elizabeth Murray, bapt. on or shortly after 16 Dec. 1787, daughter of Andrew Murray, of Clatt, in Aberdeenshire, by his wife Isobel Milne; it will be noticed that she named children Andrew and Isabella. According to MacKay, the Rev. James Robertson was “pastor of the Congregational church at Stuartfield [now spelled Stewartfield, a village in the parish of Old Deer, Aberdeenshire; not to be confused with Stewartfield in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire] for thirty years, and subsequently at Sherbrooke for upwards of 25 years, where he died in September, 1861. Our subject came to Canada with his father in 1832 [sic], and finished his education in Derby, Vt., and Sherbrooke.” James Robertson was of Stewartfield at the births of his sons Andrew (1814), George (1816), Joseph (1817), and William (1825). He must have actually lived, if only briefly, at Derby, Vermont, for his son Andrew is recorded as of that place at his admission to the University of Vermont about 1834 or 1835, while the younger sons George and William are recorded as of Sherbrooke on their admissions to the same institution about 1835-36 and 1845-46, respectively. These facts support the date of May 1836 given for the family’s arrival in the DCB sketch of the son Joseph, against the biographical sketch of 1881 just quoted.
Known issue, all baptisms at New Deer:
- John Robertson, b. 22 Nov. 1809, probably died young.
Andrew Robertson, b. 25 Nov. 1814 at Stewartfield, d. 20 March 1880 at Cotê-Saint-Antoine, Montréal, Québec. A lawyer, he is said to have “twice declined a judgeship,” but accepted the governorship of McGill College, Montréal (1868-1870). For further details of his career see the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, in which it is stated, “It is not known whether he married.” He should not be confused with an unrelated Andrew Robertson (1827-ca. 1886), of “Elmbank,” Montréal, merchant, who served as President of the St. Andrew’s Society (1868-69), President of the Dominion Board of Trade (1876), as President of the Montreal Board of Trade (1876-77), etc.
George Russell Robertson, of Sherbrooke and Stanstead Plain, advocate, b. 24 April 1816 at Stewartfield, d. 18 Feb. 1871 at Sherbrooke. He is pretty surely the George Robertson who taught for some time at Stanstead Seminary. He m. in 1843, Harriet A. Smith, b. 25 Feb. 1823, living 1881, daughter of Ichabod Smith, of Stanstead, by his wife Amanda Ward, and had issue:
- James S. Robertson, b. 23 April 1845, d. 1865.
- Mary Amanda Robertson, b. 11 Sept. 1846.
- George S. Robertson, b. 1 April 1849.
- Josephine Robertson, b. 25 Dec. 1850, living 1901; she m. Joseph L. Terrill, b. 12 June 1841, d. 1881-1901, who “pursued the usual course of study of law; was admitted to the bar in 1865 … [and] has a good practice at Stanstead Plain.” In the 1881 census of Stanstead Plain they appear with three children, and a widow Laura Terill, aged 65, born in the U.S., who was presumably Joseph’s mother, the family’s religion being given as Episcopal, except for Laura Terill who was a Congregationalist. The widowed Josephine appears with two children in the Saint-Antoine quarter of the city of Montréal in the 1901 census. Known issue:
- Gretta I. Terrill, b. 1872-73 (aged 8 in 1881); no longer living with her mother in 1901.
- Joseph L. Terill (twin to Josephine), b. 2 June 1878, still living unmarried with his mother in 1901, when he was a clerk.
- Josephine Terill (twin to Joseph), b. 2 June 1878. She m. Philip Robertson, b. 3 Aug. 1864 in the province of Québec, and they were living with her mother in 1901, when he was a mail clerk. As we cannot find a Philip Robertson in Québec in the LDS index to the 1881 census, we are unable to say whether this man could have been a member of the present Robertson family.
- William Duncan Robertson, b. 4 July 1853.
- Gordon F. Robertson, b. 9 Feb. 1855.
- Isabella F. Robertson, b. 16 Feb. 1857.
- Katherine E. Robertson, b. 6 Feb. 1859.
- Margaret Selina Robertson, b. 28 March 1863.
- The Hon. Joseph Gibb Robertson, b. 31 Dec. 1817 (not 1 Jan. 1820) at Stewartfield, d. 13 March 1899 at Sherbrooke. He was Secretary-Treasurer of Sherbrooke County (1847-1853), Mayor of Sherbrooke (1855-1871?), M.P.P. (Liberal-Conservative) for Sherbrooke (1867-1892), Treasurer of the Province of Québec, and finally Postmaster of Sherbrooke. For further details of his career, the long sketch of him in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography should be consulted. He m. 19 July 1870, Mary J. Woodward, b. 1845-46 (aged 35 in 1881) in the province of Qébec, eldest daughter of A.G. Woodward, of Sherbrooke, and had by her four sons and two daughters, the names of the younger of whom are not known to us. Their family, with two servants, is enumerated in the Centre Ward of Sherbrooke in the 1881 census. Known issue:
- James J. Robertson, b. 1871-72 (aged 9 in 1881).
- William Robertson, b. 1873-74 (aged 7 in 1881).
- Joseph Robertson, b. 1876-76 (aged 4 in 1881).
- Catherine Robertson, b. 1878-79 (aged 2 in 1881).
- Catherine Robertson, b. 28 Sept. 1819, of whom we have found no further record.
- Isabella Robertson, b. 28 March 1821, of whom we have found no further record.
Margaret Murray Robertson, b. 22 Aug. 1823, d. 1897, a well-known children’s novelist, author of Christie Redfern’s Troubles (1866) and other works.
William Willox (not Willcox) Robertson, of Montréal, Q.C. (1883), LL.D. (University of Vermont, 1884), b. 11 April 1825 at Stewartfield, d. 3 Oct. 1899 at Montréal, a death notice calling him “youngest son of the late Rev. James Robertson, of Sherbrooke P.Q.” He was called to the bar in 1852, and founded the law firm of Robertson, Fleet, & Falconer, which were solicitors to the Bank of Montreal.
Mary Robertson, wife of the Rev. Daniel Gordon (above), for whom we have not found a baptismal record under the name Mary. Mary (Robertson) Gordon is recorded as being aged 58 years in the 1881 census, implying a birthdate of 1822-23. Either this is incorrect and she was born about 1827 (the only possible gap falling at anywhere near the right time in the list of her parents’ children), or she was previously baptized under some other name, say as the Isabella of 1821. Perhaps further research would reveal that she had (like several of her siblings) been given two names at birth, and was recorded sometimes as one and sometimes the other, settling on Mary in adulthood. In any case, despite the absence of a baptismal record, she is placed in this family by irrefutable contemporary evidence.
- Jane Robertson, b. 6 Dec. 1829, bapt. 14 Jan. 1830, of whom we have found no further record.
Additional kinships. The children of James Robertson and his wife Elizabeth Murray bore among them middle names which may have been ancestral family names — Russell, Gibb, Willox. Further, although somewhat oblique, clues to the affiliations of this family are provided by MacKay’s statement that Mary (Robertson) Gordon was “a cousin of Rev. Andrew Murray, the renowned leader of the Dutch Reformed South African Church, and of the late Robertson Smith, Professor of Hebrew in Cambridge College.” Let us consider some implications of these claims:
The Rev. Andrew Murray [IV] (1828-1917), minister at the Dutch Reformed Church of Welllington from 1871 to 1906, and a noted educationist, was born at the Dutch Reformed parsonage in Graaff Reinet, South Africa, a son of the Rev. Andrew Murray (Sr.) (1794-1866), who had married 13 April 1825, Maria Susanna Magdalena Stegman (1809-1889), of Boer ancestry, daughter of Johan Godlieb Stegman, of The Cape of Good Hope. If Mary Robertson was related to Andrew Murray [IV], it was surely through his father, Andrew Murray [III], who one suspects was a brother of Elizabeth Murray, wife of the Rev. James Roberston, above. According to Leona Choy, Andrew Murray: Beelddraer van Ewige Liefde, not personally seen by us but quoted in Dr. Andrew Murray: Voorouers, Andrew Murray [IV] was the fourth in a line of men named Andrew Murray, from a family of Old Light Presbyterians settled in “Lofthills” in Aberdeenshire, a place we cannot identify, and which is probably only the name of a hamlet or farm. And according to Rev. Andrew Murray and his family, “Andrew Murray (26 May 1794 - 24 June 1866) was born in the Milltown of Clatt in the Aberdeenshire district of Scotland…. He arrived in South Africa in July 1822 from Scotland to act as minister to the mainly Dutch-speaking community of Graaff Reinet. He served the congregation in this capacity from 1822 until his death in 1866.” Combining the information from these sources, it is clear that the Rev. Andrew Murray [III] was the one baptized on shortly after 25 May 1794 in the parish church of Clatt, Aberdeenshire, daughter of Andrew Murray and Isobel Milne; and he had a sister, Elizabeth Murray, born or baptized 16 Dec. 1787, who was of the right age to have been the wife of the Rev. James Robertson above-named.
Andrew Murray [IV] and his father, Andrew Murray [III],
from unidentified sources
(Click for larger image of picture on left.)
William Robertson Smith (1846-1894), a generation younger and perhaps a cousin’s child rather than a cousin, was an eminent pioneer in Britain of the “Higher Criticism” in biblical studies, author of Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (1889, etc.), a contributor to, and subsequently joint editor (from 1881) and editor in chief (from 1887?) of, the famous 9th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a contributor to the Dictionary of National Biography. Smith was a son of the Rev. William Pirie Smith, D.D. (d. 1890), Senior Minister of the Free Church in the united parishes of Keig and Tough, in the Vale of Alford, Aberdeenshire, who m. 16 July 1844 at Old Machar, Aberdeenshire, Jane Robertson (d. 1899), daughter of William Robertson, head of the West End Academy, Aberdeen, a prestigious classical seminary. This William Robertson, after whom his famous maternal grandson was evidently named, must have been of about the same age as the Rev. James Robertson above; but while they may possibly have been brothers, we have not established a connection between the two men.
Robertson Smith and his mother, Jane (Robertson) Smith,
from The Life of William Robertson Smith (1912).
(Click for larger images.)
It may well be wondered whether Smith’s eminent biographer, The Rev. W(illiam) Robertson Nicoll (for whom see the DNB) was descended from the same Robertsons. He was a son of the Rev. Harry Nicoll (d. 1892), Free Church minister of Auchindoir, Aberdeenshire, who m. 29 Dec. 1850 at Birse, Aberdeenshire, Jane Robertson, of unknown parentage.
It is unfortunate that the information as to the family of Mary (Robertson) Gordon was recorded by MacKay in so vague a manner. Nevertheless, this information is interesting for what it reveals of the consciousness of her place within an international kinship network, and of the pride in her clerical and academic connections. Doubtless the failure to mention her distinguished siblings three of whom would merit sketches in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography was merely because the facts would already have been sufficiently well known to the work’s intended audience. A little more research in primary sources would probably settle the remaining points of doubt as to the precise relationship of Mary Robertson with her notable kindred. This would be an interesting exercise, if only because the clues provided by MacKay on the affiliations of Mary Robertson appear to have been overlooked by writers on her siblings.
The Rev. W.A. MacKay, Pioneer Life in Zorra (Toronto, 1899) 352-3.
This family was apparently founded by Robert Stewart of Fincastle, who was descended from James Stewart of Atholl, fourth natural son of Sir Alexander Stewart, “The Wolf of Badenoch,” fourth and youngest son of King Robert II; see G. Harvey Johnston, The Heraldry of the Stewarts, with notes on all the males of the family, descriptions of the arms, plates and pedigrees (Edinburgh: 1906), 30, 37, 38; Henry Lee, History of the Stewart or Stuart Family (Charleston, South Carolina, 1920), 47.
According to MacKay, Pioneer Life in Zorra, 352, without mention of the names of his parents. However, we cannot find a particularly plausible entry for him in the index to the “Old Parochial Registers.” The only entry for a Daniel Gordon of anywhere near the right period is Daniel Gordon, son of James Gordon & Isobel Fleeming [sic], bapt. 16 July 1823 in Old or West Greenock; General Register of Scotland Reference 564/03 005*. But this was nearly 16 months after our subject is supposed to have been born.
MacKay, Pioneer Life in Zorra, 352-69.
The Rev. W.A. MacKay, Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad; or, How to Succeed (Toronto, 1900), 199.
MacKay, Pioneer Life in Zorra, 355.
MacKay, Pioneer Life in Zorra, 369.
MacKay, Pioneer Life in Zorra, 369.
1881 Census of Canada, Ontario, Oxford North, Zorra West, District 166, Sub-district B, Division 2, p. 65; PAC microfilm no. C-13267 [Family History Library microfilm no. 1,375,903].
Toronto Marriage registrations, no. 002294-99. This record erroneously calls the groom’s father Donald Gordon. Oddly enough, the same mistake is made (in two separate places) in John Graham Harkness, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry: A History, 1784-1945 (1946), 353-54, 386-89.
MacKay, Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad, 199.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography (hereafter DCB), 12:904-6. Note however the remarks below concerning the uncertainty of the date of Mary’ birth.
DCB, 10:620, 12:901-4. The birthdates of both men are given incorrectly therein; that of Andrew Robertson was not 1815 but 25 Nov. 1814, and that of Joseph Gibb Robertson was not 1 Jan. 1820 but 31 Dec. 1817. The name of a fourth sibling, William “Wilcox” [recte Willox] Robertson, is incorrectly starred as a cross-reference in the entry for Andrew Robertson; but in fact there is no such entry in the work.
Henry James Morgan, The Canadian Men and Women of the Time, 1st ed. (Toronto, 1898), 391.
General catalogue of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, Burlington, Vermont, 1791-1900 (Burlington, 1901), 64 (for Andrew), 66 (for George), 89 (for William). The three men are explicitly identified as brothers by the anonymous editor.
General Register Office of Scotland reference 225/00 0002 [FHL microfiche no. 102,517]. The record refers to them merely as “James Robertson Minr. in the parish of Deer and Elisbeth Murray”; there is no mention of their parentage or of the bride’s place of residence.
The Canadian biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self-made men: Québec and the Maritime provinces volume (Chicago & Toronto, 1881), 200-1, where his birthdate is however given erroneously.
We assume that their admissions were about three or four years before their respective graduations.
The dates, per the IGI, are doubtless of birth, not of baptism as there stated.
General Catalogue of the University of Vermont (1901), 64; DCB 10:620 (which incorrectly gives his date of birth as 1815).
The Rev. J. Douglas Borthwick, History and Gazetteer of Montreal to the Year 1892 (Montreal, 1892); George MacLean Rose, Representative Canadians A Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography, being Chiefly Men of the Time, vol. 2 (Toronto, 1888); W.H. Atherton, Montreal, 1535-1914, 4 vols. (Montreal, 1914), 2:381; Dictionary of Canadian Biogrpahy. It was this man, not our subject, who was father-in-law of James Stewart Tupper and of James Alexander Lawrason Strathy.
B.F. Hubbard, Forests and clearings: The History of Stanstead County, Province of Quebec, with sketches of more than five hundred families (Montreal, 1874), 104.
General Catalogue of the University of Vermont (1901), 64; Hubbard, Forests and clearings, 132, where he and his children are treated under the account of his wife’s family. His widow is listed as “Mrs. G.R. Robertson, b. 1823” in Illustrated Atlas of the Eastern Townships and South Western Quebec (1881), p. 82.
Hubbard, Forests and clearings, 140.
1881 Census of Canada, Quebec, Stanstead, Stanstead Plain, district 56, sub-district B, p. 8; PAC microfilm no. C-13199 [FHL microfilm no. 1,375,835].
1901 Census of Canada, Québec, district 175 (Montréal), subdistrict A (Saint-Antoine), division 21, p. 7; PAC microfilm no. T-6533.
Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography; W.J. Rattray, The Scot in British North America (Toronto, 1880), 3:761-3; The Canadian biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self-made men: Québec and the Maritime provinces volume (1881), 200-1, as cited; L.S. Channell, History of Compton County and Sketches of the Eastern Townships (Cookshire, Quebec, 1896), 31, 41; Morgan, The Canadian Men and Women of the Time, 1st ed. (1898), 868; various editions of The Canadian Parliamentary Companion; DCB 12:901-4. Despite the agreement of several of these sources in giving his date of birth as 1 Jan. 1820, this possibility is precluded by the birth of a child to his parents less than four months’ time before this date, on 28 Sept. 1819. He was surely the son Joseph born to them on 31 Dec. 1817, as there is no room for this child to have died and another one of the same name to have been born. Thus, it must be concluded that Joseph Robertson was mistaken as to the date of his own birth.
1881 Census of Canada, Québec, Sherbrooke County, Sherbrooke, Centre Ward, district 55, sub-district D, division 2, p. 32; PAC microfilm no. C-13199 [FHL microfilm no. 1,375,835].
MacKay, Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad, 199; DCB 12:904-6. She is one of the subjects of Carrie MacMillan, Lorraine McMullen and Elizabeth Waterston, Silenced Sextet: Six Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Novelists, which we have not seen. Her novel Stephen Grattan’s Faith: A Canadian Story is available online at http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/ItemRecord/17020?id=9c3772a76557f7dd.
General Catalogue of the University of Vermont (1901), 89; death notice in the Gleaner; Morgan, The Canadian Men and Women of the Time, 1st ed. (1898), 869.
MacKay, Zorra Boys at Home and Abroad, 199.
Lutheran Cyclopedia, rev. ed., ed. Erwin L. Lueker (St. Louis, Missouri, & London, 1975), 562. He is also the subject of a biography by J. du Plessis, The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa (London, 1920), of W.M. Douglas, Andrew Murray and his message (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1957), Leona Choy, Andrew Murray: Beelddraer van Ewige Liefde, and of William Lindner, Andrew Murray (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1996), none of which we have seen.
C.C. de Villiers, Geslagsregisters van die Ou Kaapse Families, 2 vols. (Capetown & Rotterdam, 1981), 2:925 (for the Stegman family); Rev. Andrew Murray and his family, available online at http://www.murray.org.za/e_history.asp; Dr. Andrew Murray: Voorouers, available online at http://reforma.moreson.org.za/Dr_Andrew_Murray_se_voorouers.html. There are numerous genealogies of the South African branch of the family which we have not seen, including Unto Children’s Children (1909); Helen Murray, The Andrew Murray Family Register, 1822-1931 (1931); Emma Horn, Murray-Stamregister, 1794-1954 (Cape Town, 1956); Caroline Murray, The Murray Family Register, 1794-1977 (1978); Hester Walters et al., Andrew Murray nageslag, 1794-1996 (1997).
The children of Andrew Murray and Isobel/Isabel Milne of Clatt, all baptized at Clatt, were (per controlled extractions of parish registers, in IGI; the dates are possibly birth-dates):
- John Murray, bapt. 11 March 1784.
- James Murray, bapt. 24 Feb. 1786; he appears to have remained at Clatt, married, and had children.
- Elizabeth Murray, bapt. 16 Dec. 1787, probably the wife of the Rev. James Robertson.
- William Murray, bapt. 4 Jan. 1790.
- Sarah Murray, bapt. 27 Sept. 1792.
- Andrew Murray, bapt. 25 May 1794, of the text.
- Margaret Murray, bapt. 24 April 1796.
W. Robertson Nicoll, “Dr. Robertson Smith” [obituary], British Weekly, 5 April 1894, reprinted in his Princes of the Church (London, 1921), 62-73; DNB; Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.; John Sutherland Black & George Chrystal, The Life of William Robertson Smith (London, 1912); Gordon Booth, William Robertson Smith (1846-1894), Ph.D. Thesis, available online at http://www.gkbenterprises.fsnet.co.uk/ wrs.htm; He is also the subject of William Smith Johnson (ed.), William Robertson Smith: Essays in Reassessment (Sheffield, 1995), which we have not seen.
He is said to have been born at Aberdeen in Chrystal, The Life of William Robertson Smith, 6, but the date is not given. His brief and simple will (Aberdeen Sheriff Court Wills) makes no mention of any relatives save his wife and sons. In the inventory of his estate (Aberdeen Sheriff Court Inventories, 18 March 1890, indexed online www.scottishdocuments.com/), he is referred to as “Revd. William Pirie Smith, doctor of divinity, minister of the Free Church of Keig and Tough, residing at the Manse at Keig, thereafter at 2 Skene Place, then at 61 Fountainhall Road, d. 24 Feb. 1890 at Aberdeen, testate, deponed by William Robertson Smith.”
Controlled extraction of parish register, in IGI. The children of William Pirie Smith and Jane Robertson, all except the first baptized at Keig, Aberdeenshire, were as follows (controlled extractions of parish registers, in IGI):
- Mary Jane Smith, b. 11 July 1845, bapt. 10 Aug. following at Old Machar.
- William Robertson Smith, bapt. 8 Nov. 1846.
- George Michie Smith, bapt. 23 Feb. 1848.
- Isabella Giles Smith, bapt. 2 Oct. 1849.
- Ellen Deans Smith, bapt. 26 April 1851.
- Eliza Stewart Smith, bapt. 9 Nov. 1852.
- Alice Smith, bapt. 27 April 1858.
- Lucy Smith, b. 22 Sept. 1859.
- Herbert Smith, b. 8 Feb. 1862.
- Charles Michie Smith, bapt. 13 July 1854; a well-known astronomer, he became the director of the observatory at Madras, India, and later at the observatory at Kodaikanal, India.
In the inventory of her estate (Aberdeen Sheriff Court Inventories, 21 April 1900, indexed online www.scottishdocuments.com/), she is described as “Mrs. Jane Smith, or Robertson, residing at 61 Fountainhall Road, Aberdeen, widow of Revd. William Pirie Smith, D.D., Free Church minister of Keig and Tough, Aberdeenshire, d. 3 Dec. 1899 at Aberdeen, testate.” We have not located the will alluded to.
In the inventory of his estate (Aberdeen Sheriff Court Inventories, 11 March 1892, indexed online www.scottishdocuments.com/) he is referred to as “Revd. Harry Nicoll, resided at Old Free Church Manse, Lumsden, parish of Auchindoir, d. 14/10/1891 at Old Free Church Manse, intestate, kin of Revd. William Robertson Nicoll, D.D., Baytree Lodge, Frognall, Hampstead London.”
Controlled extraction from parish register, indexed in the IGI.
Miscellanea Manitobiana, no. 5
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