Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


The story of James Robertson

It is now impossible to know where James Robertson was born but it must have been around 1757 as he died in 1832 according to his memorial at South Leith Church. He was educated at the University of Glasgow and was licensed there by the Presbytery in May 1781.
He was ordained as assistant at St Ninian’s near Stirling in August 1783. In 1787 he was presented and called to Gargunnock between Stirling and Kippen. After a ministry of seventeen years in this quiet and beautiful Parish he was presented by the Magistrates and Masters of Leith to the Second Charge of South Leith in December 1804. Dr Robert Dickson who had been the Second Charge was by this time Minister of the First Charge.

South Leith Church

The portrait of Robert Dickson by the celebrated Sir Henry Raeburn hangs in the Ministers Vestry at South Leith. After a year after coming to Leith James Robertson was made a D.D. by the University of Edinburgh. In 1787 he married Ann Walker who died in October 1806 They had two sons one who died aged nineteen in 1807 the other John Thomas became a merchant in Leith and died in April 1865 aged seventy-two. After the death of his first wife he remarried to an Alison daughter of William Jamieson of Portobello and had a daughter called Christian who died in infancy.

Dr Robertson didn’t publish much however while at Gargunnock he contributed to Sinclair’s “Statistical Account of Scotland”. In 1811 he published his Sermon “The Duty of the Contending Earnestly for the Faith once delivered to the Saints”
His portrait was painted for the Session but not by Raeburn and a replica was presented to his family and the original was hung opposite to Dr Dickson’s picture in the Ministers vestry. The replica a few years later came back to the Church unfortunately now gone.

Dr Robertson was a popular man and a strong advocate for the rights of Leith against the tyranny of Edinburgh.

Garunnock Church near Stirling from a drawing by Muirhead Bone

It would appear that he returned to Gargunnock in 1832 for a visit and while there Cholera broke out and while he fled the town to avoid it, it was discovered he had contracted the disease and died. He died at Balloan in Perthshire on the 25th August. His remains where taken by cart to Gargunnock Church where his remains were interred. His enclosure can still be seen to this day.

South Leith Records (C)

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