Garry Gillard > genealogy > See also the more recent chapter on Margaret Henderson and Arthur Robertson from Margaret Worrall's book, The Folk from the Wind Wound Isle, 2004.

Family of Arthur Robertson of Shetland and Victoria

Margaret Worrall is the author of almost all that follows.
Click on any image to see it at a larger size.

James Robertson and Barbara Manson were married 26 December 1811 (Shetland Records - henceforward: 'SR') and had three sons, one of whom was Arthur Robertson.

Arthur Robertson and Margaret Henderson

Arthur Robertson was born 13 November 1815 at Hellister, Whiteness, Shetland (SR) second of three sons to James ROBERTSON and Barbara MANSON who were married on 26 December 1811. (SR)
Occupation: farmer/mason/music teacher (SR)
Married 15 August 1837 to Margaret HENDERSON
Margaret Henderson was born 4 September 1812 at Burwick, Shetland (SR), the 4th child and 2nd daughter of Peter HENDERSON and Agnes WILLIAMSON who were married on 12.8.1798. (SR)
She died 1896, Port Campbell, Victoria, and is buried in the Robertson family grave at Port Campbell.

Arthur and Margaret are said to have had sixteen children (according to Charlotte Robertson Dickins) only nine of whom survived. Six of these came to Australia. The surviving children - listed below in detail - were Agnes, Barbara, James, John, Peter, Arthur, Margaret, Robert and William Adie.

The couple is registered in the 1841 Shetland census as living at Hellister with the two older children and Arthur's mother, Barbara Manson. In the 1851 census they are still at Hellister (in the 4th house) with seven children plus Barbara Manson (described as widow). Arthur is recorded as 'farmer, 4 acres, employs 2 labourers'.


Photo (Craig Robertson, 1982, thanks Richard Dickins) of the area where Arthur Robertson's croft was at Hellister: the exact location is not certain.

Their land was rented on a year to year basis and In 1858 the family was evicted. The landlord's name was Calder. He lived in Kergord House (circa 1850) a 2 storey house in the Weisdale valley which Thelma Watt of the SFHS told me was built with stone from crofter's cottages. The family apparently moved to Jackville at the tip of Stromness, as this is where they are registered in the 1861 census. This time Arthur is described as mason, music teacher and farmer (8 acres). All the children except Barbara are listed, as well as Barbara Manson (widow). James and John are recorded as fishermen. In the 1861 census Barbara Robertson is recorded as living with her uncle, John Robertson (merchant and grocer) at Strombridge. (Details of John Robertson are contained in the 'Shetland connections').

In September 1862 Arthur was served a notice of eviction from the Jackville site. Records of both evictions are held in the Government Archives in Lerwick and were sighted and photocopied by me in 1997. They represent part of the 'clearances' which took place in Scotland during the late 18th and 19th centuries, when crofters and tenant farmers were evicted and the land used for sheep farming. (John Prebble, Highland Clearances, Penguin, 1963.)

It was presumably this event which prompted the family's emigration to Australia as there is no record of the family in Shetland after September 1862. Family stories relate that the family came to Australia on the advice of son James, who had visited this country as a seaman. This comes down through several family lines including James' and Robert's descendants. The family arrived in four separate batches between 1863 and 1867, with six of the nine children coming to Australia. It is not known where family members resided between their eviction and departure for Australia. Nor do we know the fate of Barbara Manson: her death is not recorded in Shetland but she does not appear to have come to Australia.

I have not looked up the shipping records but have put the following together from information supplied by Marjorie Mathieson and from family stories. Arthur came first, arriving at Geelong, Victoria in 1863 on the Vanguard (Master - Henry Corven). James, according to his grandson, Neil Saunders, writing in 1978, worked his passage, leaving his ship in Sydney with an honourable discharge in 1865. (Saunders claims to have seen a document stating this but was uncertain about the date and did not know its current whereabouts). James then came overland to join his father in Victoria. Margaret Henderson and the two youngest children, Robert and William, may have arrived in 1866, part paid for as assisted migrants and part by Arthur. When Arthur had saved enough money, Agnes, Arthur Jnr and Margaret Jnr were sent for. Arthur Jnr is thought to have worked his passage as a crew member. These last three came on the John Temperly (Master: J. W. Tucker - carrying 357 adults) leaving 1.2.1867 and arriving in Australia on 26.9.1867.

The family initially settled at Derrinellum in south western Victoria, later moving to Port Campbell where Arthur and Margaret are buried in the family grave. The family plot also contains the remains of other family members. There are still Robertson descendants living in this district.

Margaret and Arthur's children

Note: For the purpose of my records Margaret and Arthur are listed as 'A', their children as 'B'. their grandchildren as 'C' and so on.


Agnes Robertson

The photograph on the left shows Agnes with her father Arthur.
The one on the right shows her in later life.

b. 30.3.1838, Scalloway, Shetland (SR)
d. 24.12.1919, Gama East, Vic., buried Woomelang, Vic. Australia
o. Knitter
m. 12.1.1870 to Michael (Mick) Grace McCUE at Tooliorook, Vic.
(Soldier / labourer / stonemason / farmer - b. 29.3.1831 (?) Ballinakill, Ireland, d. 16.1.1916 Panity, Vic., buried at Murrayville, Vic. There is a memorial for him on the Robertson family grave at Port Campbell.)
Issue: 2 sons and 3 daughter - m.f.f.f.m.


b. 30.11.1839, Scalloway, Shetland (SR)
d. 26.2.1862, Strombridge, Shetland (SR)
Unmarried, no issue
A remembrance notice for Barbara and her brother John, incorrectly gives her date of death as 6.3.1861. I have a photocopy of this notice which is from an unidentified newspaper; it is undated. Barbara is said to have died of tuberculosis. Her death was registered by her brother John.


b. 14.10.1841, Hellister, Shetland (SR)
d. 23.10.1905, Avoca, Victoria
o. Seaman / stonemason / evangelist
m. 1.9.1868. to Frances Mary HALLS at Tallarook, Vic
(b. 31.12.1848, Blaxsall, England - d. 22.7.1924, Tasmania. Frances Halls is said to have came to Australia in 1866 on the same ship as James's mother and her two younger children, and became friendly with them [according to Charlotte Robertson Dickins].)
Settled at Ellerslie, Vic, where his occupation is described as stone mason
Issue: 5 sons and 3 daughters - m.m.m.f.m.m.f.f.


b. 28.9.1843, Hellister, Shetland (SR)
d. 6.6.1865 according to the joint remembrance notice for him and his sister Barbara (B2 above). Place of death not known - not recorded in Shetland.
o. Seaman
Did not come to Australia as far as I can discover.
No known issue although family stories say he married and had one child


b. 15.12.1845, Hellister, Shetland (SR)
d. Scotland? (his death is not recorded in Shetland)


The photo on the right shows Arthur Robertson with his wife and daughter, Willimina.
b. 22.6.1848, Hellister, Shetland (SR)
d. 1925, Victoria (FN 2921)
o. seaman / stone mason / farmer / evangelist
m1. 3.9.1875, Margaret Stuart Rutherford CAIRNS at Derrinallum, Vic
(b.1830, Bridge of Allan, Scotland, d. 14.12.1914, Port Campbell
o. sheep farmer. She was the mother of Mary Jane (Molly) CAIRNS who married Arthur's brother Robert (B8 below) and had 12 children from her first marriage to George Cairns.)
Issue: 1 daughter, Willimina (Mime & Mina) Jemima Edith ROBERTSON married Christopher Norman WARD; one adopted daughter, Isla WARD; one son, Arthur Christopher WARD

B7. Margaret ROBERTSON

b. 14.11.1850, Hellister, Shetland (SR)
d. 18.10.1925 - buried at Port Campbell. Vic
Issue: Reputed to have had 11 children including two sets of twins.


b. 8.5.1853, Hellister, Shetland (SR)
d. 21.1.1941, Geelong, Vic. Buried at Port Campbell
o. Stonewaller / shearer / evangelist
m. 3.4.1875 Mary Jane (Molly) CAIRNS at Derrinallum, Vic. (FN 2050)
(b. 5.7.1859 (?) Skipton, Vic. d. 4.5.1942, Geelong, Vic., buried at Port Campbell. Daughter of Arthur's wife (B6 above), she was the seventh child and third daughter of George Cairns and Margaret Stuart RUTHERFORD
Issue: 6 sons and 3 daughters - m.m.f.m.m.f.m.f.m.

The photo on the right - from the cover of his Sacred Solos - shows Robert Robertson with his son Arthur.

B9. William Adie ROBERTSON

The photo on the right shows William Robertson with wife and children Flora, Adie, Margaret and Ruby. William died aged 43, while Jane lived for 90 years, more than twice as long.
b. 27.3.1858 at Hellister, Shetland (also recorded in 1861 Shetland census) his family recorded the date as 23.3.1858
d. 17.9.1901, Beulah, Vic. - buried there - of tuberculosis
m. 8.11.1889 to Jean (Jane) MATHIESON at Port Campbell, Vic.
(b.1858, Warrnambool, Vic. d. 2.12.1948, Canterbury, Vic. Daughter of John Conly MATHIESON and Catherine McMILLAN. This family is related to the McCues: see B1 above.)
Issue: 5 children, incl. one boy
William gets a passing mention in The Wreck of the Loch Ard by D. E. Charlwood, as one of the rescuers of the two survivors, at Port Campbell in June 1878.

Home | New: 27 January, 1999 | Now: 22 December, 2020 | This genealogy is the work of Margaret Worrall, who personally obtained the Shetland Records (SR). The HTML author is Garry Gillard. Explanation of Margaret Worrall's code is here. Her last update of this file was December 1998. See also the more recent chapter on Margaret Henderson and Arthur Robertson from her book, The Folk from the Wind Wound Isle, 2004.