Duncan Robertson of Gilnock Hall

1781 - 1850

Claimant or beneficiary

Biography

  1. Duncan Robertson, 1781-1850, of Gilnock Hall, Jamaica, the third son of Rev James and Isabella Robertson [née Graham]. Born 21 October 1781, baptised 25 October. Probably went out to Jamaica in his early twenties - he had lived there for "nearly fifty years". His uncle, the Hon Duncan Robertson of Carronvale, owner of Friendship, was already in Jamaica - for relationship, see Duncan Robertson of Carronvale's will, PRO National Archives Catalogue 11/1809. His cousin John Robertson, owner of Belmont estate, was also already resident in Jamaica. Duncan Robertson acted as attorney for both Friendship and Belmont, and possibly later inherited them. Recorded in 1811 Jamaica Almanac as at Eden Mount, owning 32 slaves and 12 stock. Listed also in Jamaica Almanac 1812, 1818, 1821, 1825, then in 1830 at Gilnock owning 81 slaves and 184 stock. First marriage was to Bridget Daly, daughter of prominent attorney James Daly of Black River [James Daly was attorney for five estates in 1832, according to Higman, p. 66. James Daly linked through marriage to the Smyth family and the Monteath family]. Bridget Daly died at Friendship on 23 October 1831 at the age of 19. Second marriage was to Elizabeth Frances Smith, daughter of Edward Smith, from whom she received £2500 in his will of 1837. Duncan Robertson eventually owned or managed four plantations: Gilnock Hall, Belmont, Friendship, New Buildings (this last he bought). He was also attorney for seven other estates by 1832 including those of the Fosters and Foster Barhams at Elim and Mesopotamia, and that of John Chambers at Northampton. Duncan Robertson was also the Custos of St Elizabeth and Colonel of the St Elizabeth Regiment of Foot Militia, and later a member of the Council of Jamaica and a Major-General in the Jamaica Militia. He was heavily involved in defeating the Slave Rebellion of 1831-2 [see memorial inscription below], and for this was presented with a ceremonial sword now held by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. After 1834, Duncan Robertson remained at Gilnock, and in 1838 is noted as having 70 apprentices [Jamaica Almanac (1838)]. Belmont remained in the Robertson family until c. 1875 as a coffee plantation. Coffee cultivation later abandoned for cattle raising and pimento growing.

  2. Duncan Robertson had six children by his second wife: Duncan Graham (born 05/02/1837, baptised in St Elizabeth, 06/08/1837); James Edward (baptised in St Elizabeth, 29/04/1840, died young); Robert Henry (baptised Westmoreland, 24/01/1843); Peter Dundas (baptised Westmoreland, 20/11/1844); Francis Macdonald (born Callander, Perthshire, 30/08/1846 and baptised there 17/09/1846); James Alexander (baptised St Elizabeth, 08/08/1849).

  3. Duncan Robertson also continued as an attorney and executor in planters' wills, and was involved in several court cases after 1850 e.g. as executor of Robert Watt of Lacovia and Liverpool and of John Chambers of Northampton. There is a memorial to Robertson in Black River church: "The Hon. DUNCAN ROBERTSON, Member of Her Majesty's Privy Council in this island, Major General of Militia and Custos Rotulorum of this parish...having been 24 years Custos, 20 years Major General and 13 years Member of Council. As Custos, he was remarkable for firmness of purpose, decision of character and ready attention to parochial duties. As General of Militia the essential service he rendered his country in assisting to quell the rebellion of 1831 will long be remembered. As Member of the Privy Council he fearlessly and conscientiously discharged the duties of that office during a series of years when legislation was rendered peculiarly difficult and trying...d 9 May 1850, leaving a widow and five sons, aged 69 years 6 months. Erected by the inhabitants of the parish."

  4. According to one correspondent on Roots Web, "the Belmont Estate seems to have remained in the possession of the Robertson family until about 1875. It was a coffee plantation, situated about 2,000 feet above sea level, near Malvern in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The plantation later abandoned coffee cultivation and raised cattle and pimento instead. Up until the early 1960s there was still an old marble tomb at Belmont Estate which had the inscription, "Caroline Robertson. Born 11th October, 1785. Died 7th April, 1874."

  5. Administration of the personal estate of Elizabeth Frances Robertson [nee Smith] late of 7 the Avenue Blackheath who died 04/02/1883 was granted 09/10/1883 to Duncan Graham Robertson of East Mains Callender the son, effects £959 11s 11d.

Sources

  1. Death notice, Annual Register 1851, p. 228; Duncan Robertson of Carronvale's will [catalogued as Duncan Robertson of Larbert, Stirlingshire, December 1832], PRO National Archives Catalogue 11/1809; Jamaica Almanac (1811, 1812, 1818, 1821, 1825, 1830, 1838); B. W. Higman, Plantation Jamaica 1750-1850: capital and control in a colonial economy (Mona, Jamaica, University of West Indies Press, 2005) p. 66; Record of Burials in St Elizabeth 1831; Record of Marriages, St Elizabeth, 1834.

  2. Familysearch.org, Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online]; Familysearch.org, Jamaica Births and Baptisms, 1752-1920 [database online]; GROS OPR Baptisms 336/ 30 34 Callander.

  3. Monthly Law Report, vol. 15, 1853, p. 233; K.E. Ingram, Sources of Jamaican history 1655-1838: a bibliographical survey with particular reference to manuscript sources, vol. 2, p. 789; Law Times, 03/12/1870, p. 476; Philip Wright, Monumental Inscriptions of Jamaica (London, Society of Genealogists, 1966).

  4. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/ROBERTSON/2006-02/1141068727 [accessed 10/08/2012].

  5. National Probate Calendar 1883.

We are grateful for the help of Neil Barrow, Jackie Barrow and Paul Hitchings with compiling this entry.


Further Information

Spouse
[1] Bridget Daly; [2] Elizabeth Frances Smith (1834)
Children
With [2] Duncan Graham (1837-), James Edward (1840-), Robert Henry (1843-), Peter Dundas (1844-), Francis Macdonald (1846-), James Alexander (1849-)

Associated Claims (17)

£827 12S 7D
Awardee
£1,367 10S 3D
Awardee
£1,016 1S 1D
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£5,794 18S 7D
Awardee
£1,755 16S 0D
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£5,509 17S 11D
Awardee
£849 5S 5D
Unsuccessful claimant (Executor or executrix)
£64 2S 5D
Unsuccessful claimant (Executor or executrix)
£1,684 7S 11D
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£3,517 2S 7D
Awardee
£1,322 19S 0D
Awardee
£812 9S 2D
Awardee
£5,983 18S 3D
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£5,033 14S 2D
Awardee
£1,066 18S 2D
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£65 0S 11D
Awardee
£2,752 15S 4D
Awardee (Receiver)

Associated Estates (39)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1832 [EA] - → Attorney
1839 [EA] - → Not known
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1832 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Executor
1832 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Attorney
1834 [EA] - → Receiver
1832 [EA] - → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Trustee and Executor
1823 [EA] - → Attorney
1829 [EA] - → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1829 [LA] → Other

Commissioner

1834 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Trustee and Executor
1832 [EA] - → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Other

Acting commissioner

1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1829 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1829 [LA] → Attorney
1834 [EA] - → Executor
1823 [EA] - → Other

Sold enslaved people to this estate.

1833 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Executor
1832 [EA] - → Receiver
1832 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Receiver
1832 [EA] - → Trustee and Executor
1834 [EA] - → Executor
1826 [EA] - → Other

Purchaser of 26 enslaved people from this estate.

1834 [EA] - → Judgement creditor
1829 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Joint owner
1829 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1829 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Executor
1832 [EA] - → Agent
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney

Relationships (5)

Son-in-law → Father-in-law
Nephew → Uncle
First Cousins
Brothers
Brothers