Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Monday, 6 February 2023

Archibald Robertson and Mary Ann Thomas Butters

Devonport Dockyard - Figureheads
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Chris Allen - geograph.org.uk/p/3856679

Archibald Robertson married Mary Ann Thomas Butters on 1 Jan 1861, in the parish of St James, Devonport. On the marriage certificate, Archibald Robertson, Stoker RN, age is given as 20 and his residence as HMS Indus, said to be son of Archibald Robertson, Iron Moulder. Mary Ann, who was 19 and lived at 8 Moon Street, Devonport, had no father listed. Archibald made his mark to sign the register, but Mary Ann was able to scrawl a signature. One of the witnesses to the marriage was a Daniel Pellew.

When he enlisted in the Royal Navy, on 26 Jan 1860, as a Stoker, Archibald Robertson said that he was born on 9 Jul 1837, in Glasgow. He was 5 ft 3 in tall, with a fresh complexion, red hair and hazel eyes. From 26 Jul 1860 to 6 Jul 1861, he was indeed assigned to HMS Indus. He then spent four years, until 1 Jun 1865, with HMS Geyser, Storeship at Devonport, a few months back with HMS Indus in 1865, and HMS Greyhound until 2 Nov 1866, when, at the end of the last line of his record in the cause of discharge column, it says "Ran at St Helena", which indicates that he deserted at St Helena.

At the time of the Census in 1861, Mary Ann Robertson (19) Seaman's Wife, was living at Joll's Cottages, Devonport.

Archibald and Mary Ann had three children:
  1. Mary Ann Robertson b. 17 Mar 1862 J Quarter in STOKE DAMEREL Volume 05B Page 344, bap. as Mary Ann Pellew Robertson on 18 Feb 1875 at Devonport, St James the Great
  2. Archibald John Robertson b. 18 Jun 1863 S Quarter in STOKE DAMEREL Volume 05B Page 298, bap. as Archibald John Pellew Robertson on 18 Feb 1875 at Devonport, St James the Great
  3. Margaret Robertson b. 6 Jul 1865 S Quarter in STOKE DAMEREL Volume 05B Page 298, bap. 22 Sep 1870 at Devonport, St Stephen.
Mary Ann Robertson died, aged 23, on 16 July 1865 S Quarter in STOKE DAMEREL Volume 05B Page 199. Given the date, I think we can guess what the cause of death was. Mary Ann Robertson of 47 Monument St, Devonport was buried on 20 July 1865, in the Parish of Stoke Damerel.

On their baptisms, all were listed as children of Archibald and Mary Ann, but were clearly baptised by their respective foster families. On Mary Ann and Archibald's baptism, their address was listed as 9 Moon Street - Daniel Pellew's address. Margaret was living at 7 Mount Street and one of the Street family, baptised at the same time, was also at that address.

In 1871, Mary A Robertson (9) and Archibald J Robertson (8) were described as Orphans, living in the household of Daniel Pellew (63) Naval Pensioner and his wife, Charity, in Morice Town, Devonport. Meanwhile, Margaret Robertson (5) was a Boarder in the household of Sarah Organ (64) in Stoke Damerel, along with her daughters, one of whom was Margaret Street.

In 1881, Mary A Robinson (19) Laundress and Archibald J Robinson (17) General Porter, were again living in the household of Daniel Pellew (70) Naval Pensioner and his wife, Charity, at 9, Moon Street, Devonport Stoke-Damerel. This time they were described as his granddaughter and grandson. That year Margaret Robertson (15) General Domestic Servant, was living in the household of Margaret Street (41) Widow, Charwoman at 21, Cross Street, Devonport Stoke-Damerel, described as her Foster Daughter.

  • Archibald John Pellew Robinson enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 17 Aug 1881, giving his date of birth as 2 March 1866 - by saying he was three years younger, he made himself 15, which may well have made it easier to be be accepted for training. He rose to the rank of Petty Officer, before being Discharged Dead at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, Australia on 4 Nov 1898, from a Tumour of the Brain. He is buried at Rookwood General Cemetery.
  • Margaret Robinson married Charles Walter Street, Fireman RN, on 12 Aug 1894 in the parish of St James, Devonport.

Who was Daniel Pellow? He claims to have been from Gillingham, Kent, although the only baptism record of a Daniel Pellow is in 1812, at St Mary's Church, Portsea. Daniel Pellew, Able Seaman, married, for the first time to Elizabeth Pike, in Northfleet, Kent on 26 Dec 1844. Next, Daniel Pellew, Widower, Mariner HMS Bellerophon, married Ann Leach, Widow, who lists her father as James Butters, Fisherman, in Stoke Damerel, in 1851. Daniel Pellew, Widower, Mariner HMS Impregnable, married for the third and final time to Charity Horn on 16 Dec 1855, at the parish church of Stoke Damarel. Although I can't find a trail of records to prove it, I feel that the most likely explanation is that Mary Ann Thomas Butters was the illegitimate daughter of Daniel's second wife, Ann Leach (née Butters) and therefore, he was step-grandfather to Mary Ann and Archibald John, who he brought up and who added Pellew to their names at baptism. Without blood ties (and many times even with), others would have sent those children to the workhouse. 

Daniel Pellew (73) of 9 Mount Street, died on 17 Mar 1882 and was buried on 25 Mar 1882, in Stoke Damerel. In 1891, Charity Pellew (68) Widow, Laundress, was still living in Moon Street. Charity Pellew (70), of 11 Moon Street, died on 1 Dec 1894 and was buried on 4 Dec 1894.

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