John & Janet Robertson, 19th Century

Isabel Hamilton writes, “Hi Paul. Here are the ancestors I am researching. Robert Nairn & his wife Janet McDonald, were both born in Stewarton, Ayrshire, Robert in 1762 & Janet in 1770. They were married in 1798 in Stewarton. Janet was Robert’s 3rd wife!!.

They went on to have 8 children. Janet, the eldest B. 1799 married John Robison (Robertson) at Hamilton in 1824. They had 5 sons:
1 Robert B.1826 at Uddingston. Married Ellen Rennie.
2 John-Gilbert B.1828. Married Alice Smith, but I am unable to find their marriage. He died in Blantyre.
3 William B.1832 at Blantyre.
4 Daniel B.1835 at Blantyre.
5 James B.1839 at Blantyre.

John Robertson died at Blantyre in 1861. Janet, his wife died in 1877 at Blantyre. If you have any information about any of the Robertsons I would be very grateful.”

I was able to reply with:

John Robertson was born in Hamilton in 1805 and married Janet when he was 18 years old in 1824. The couple moved to Blantyre sometime between 1828 and 1832, settling down at the Village area at Blantyre Works. There would have been plenty of work in that decade and John found work as a labourer. (We know the school/church was built in 1828, which would have needed skilled labour and may have been the very reason for his coming here. As a labourer, he would have found plenty work in expanding Blantyre.

In the 1851 census, John was 46 years old, Janet four years older at 50. With them in their  rented home was son Daniel , aged 16 employed as a tile maker and other son James, who, despite being only 13 years old was employed by Monteiths as a hand loom weaver in the cotton mills at the edge of the River Clyde. This was the year the company built a suspension bridge over the river.

In 1861, just before John died, the family had already moved to Stonefield, Blantyre perhaps prompted by the expansion of shops and homes in the district or a change in circumstances. Sons John and James were living with the family, unusual for their ages and at least were certainly there on census day. Youngest son James was a ploughman.

Following John Robertson’s death in 1861, the family looks to have sadly fallen on hard times. By 1871 census, a decade later, without the income of her husband, Janet Robertson, aged 70 is noted as being a “pauper”. It is telling that with her at their small rented home at Back Row, Loanfoot is son John Gilmour Robertson, aged 42, unemployed and also noted as a “pauper”. They lived in one room, which had only 1 window and I suspect were immediately beside Dixons Coal pit Bings, a noisy, dirty and perhaps undesirable place to end up.

More can be derived from seeing the term “pauper” in this census. It meant they were both recipients of relief under the provisions of the Poor Law or of public charity. Visits from Inspectors of Poor Law may have been common. Needless to say, things would have been very difficult for this family. Picture for illustration only.

I was unable to find any link between these Robertsons and the more famous Robertsons of Springwell.


Screenshot 2019-08-18 at 21.36.50


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