Mr. Hugh Robertson (1)

7. Concession of Drummond (2)

Canada West, N. America

No. 33

Schoolhouse, Lochearnhead (3)

7th Nov. 1865

Honored Uncle

I have been resolving during the last twelve months to write you, but I procrastinated thinking that I would hear from Mr. Stewart (4), my brother-in-law. In his last to me he told me of the welfare of my friends in Canada, as also that he himself intended removing up the country. I wrote a reply to his letter but I have not heard from him since, nor, were I write, do I know how to address now.

In my last to you, dear Uncle, I informed you of the death of my father (5), how through his long illness his faith in a crucified Redeemer never failed him. I have now to inform you that mostly all those about whom you were accustomed to inquire, have finished their earthly career. As for instance Archie Campbell (6), Carie, who died two years ago, his brother Donald (7) having died before him. John Burdew(?) (8), whom I am sure you remember is still able to walk about, he is however getting very frail. John McPhail (9), once of Carie, but lately of Killin (10), died about a year ago. If you were now to see your native place, I believe that there is not one countenance you could recognize, so true it is that “one generation cometh and another passeth away”.

The Breadalbane (11) Succession case still constitutes the order of the day here; there being three claimants, viz, Alexander G. Campbell (12), otherwise Glen-falloch; Charles Campbell (13), alias Borland; & Lieutenant Donald Campbell (14), whose case is to be proceeded with at once in consequence of the great age of some of the witnesses. John Burdew(?) whom I referred to already being one of them. It is reported here that John McLaren (15), once of Blairmore, Lochtayside (16), is on his way from Canada to bear witness in favour of Lieutenant Campbell. They also speak of another one who is coming across with John McLaren, but his name is unknown to me. Did you know anything about the matter?

It is uncertain as yet how matters may end, although the general belief is that Glenfalloch will be victor.

I am sure you must have heard of the disease that has broken out among the cattle in England and Scotland. It is called the Rinderpest (17). It generally cuts off cattle within the space of 10 hours. It has cleared most of the dairies in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is now spreading through the country notwithstanding all the precautions taken to arrest its progress.

Lord Palmerston (18), our Premier, is dead & Lord John Russel (19) has been appointed in his stead. It is not yet known what effect this may have upon our relations with other countries.

Dear uncle, when you receive this letter I trust you will write one and let me known of the welfare of any friends in Canada. I suppose you are aware that I am married & that I have four of a family viz Margaret (20), Duncan (21), John (22) & Charlotte (23); we are all enjoying good health for which we have reason to be thankful to the giver of every good gift. My sister Janet (24) is here and is well – my sister Christine (25) who married one McDougal (26) has also four of a family & they are all well. My uncle (27) at Killin & family are well.

Dear uncle, did you know one Peter McPherson (28), who died lately (a bachelor) leaving all his land to Alexander (29) his brother, who lives here beside me? If you knew him you can let me know as to the extent of land he possessed, its apparent value, and the best way of disposing of it. We wrote one John McPherson (30) of Drummond, nephew of Alexander to whom the land had been bequeathed about the beginning of harvest & as he never replied. His uncle here made some promises that I would make you aware of the matter when I would write you so that you would counsel him how to act under the circumstances. I believe it was Alexander’s intention to sell the land if he once got right particulars about it. Peter McPherson left all his money to his friends in Canada & Alexander’s half-sister Ann (31) & her brother William (32) have come in for a share of it. Ann went to Canada several years ago & married one Anderson (33), but William is about Blair Drummond (34) in this country.

Dear Uncle, I have still a desire to see Canada & my friends there & it is probable that, if I leave my present situation, I will make Canada the land of my ??? option. Give my kind love to all my friends there with whom you may come in contact. Write soon.

I remain, Dear Uncle

Your Affectionate Nephew

Donald Robertson (35)

I remain, Dear Aunt

Your Affectionate Niece

Christianna Robertson (36)



Hugh Robertson (1791-1869), to whom this letter was written, was the son of  John Robertson (b.1733) and Katherine McEwan (b.1737) and the grandson of Hugh Robertson (b. c1700). Family oral tradition holds that Hugh Robertson the elder “was one of the 700 Robertsons who joined the army of Prince Charlie in the rebellion of 1745 and at the battle of Culloden he escaped the fate of so many of his clansmen … his only casualty being that of having the buckle shot off his shoe”.

Hugh Robertson the younger married Christina MacDonald (1789-1870) in April 1816 and a short time later sailed for Upper Canada via the Brig Lady of the Lake arriving at Quebec City on 07 September of that year. On the same boat were his sister Janet Robertson (1797-1866) and her husband Donald Campbell. A few weeks later his wife’s brother Donald MacDonald arrived.

Hugh Robertson and Donald MacDonald took up adjacent Conc-7 lots in Drummond Township, Lanark County (at Drummond Center) but a few months later Donald MacDonald moved to a location on Drummond Conc-6 near Armstrong Corners.

In the summer of 1818 Hugh Robertson’s parents, and Hugh’s younger brothers John (1800-1874)) and Donald (1803-????), arrived in Drummond Township. John Sr. & Catherine settled on Conc-9 and John Jr. was granted a lot beside his father. Donald later took up land at Conc-9/Lot-13 but sold it in 1844 (to Malcolm McNaughton) and moved to Acton in Halton County. John & Donald married sisters, the daughters of Neil Malloch.

(1) Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson (1791-1869), son of a John Robertson and Catherine McEwen (1737-???) of Breadalbane, Scotland. He married Christina McDonald (1789-1870). Hugh Robertson was born in Breadalbane, Scotland … on the north shore of Loch Tay in an area known as Carwhin at the foot of Mount Lawers. He was well educated (a graduate of Sterling Academy) and before emigrating to Upper Canada in 1816 was a factor on the Drummond Estate at Strathallan. He took up a land grant on Conc-7/Lot-15(E), Drummond Township, Lanark County, Ontario (at Drummond Center). Hugh Robetson was 74 years of age when he received this letter, hence so many deaths of friends and relatives.

(2) Drummond Addressee Hugh Robertson was granted land in 1816 at Conc-7/Lot-15(E), Drummond Township, Lanark County, Ontario (at Drummond Center).

(3) Lochearnhead Lies at the head and western edge of Loch Earn at the foot of Glen Ogle in Perthshire. This address, and the quality of the letter, may suggest that letter writer Donald Robertson was a schoolteacher.

(4) Mr. Stewart Apparently a brother to the wife of letter writer Donald Robertson, living in Canada.

(5) Father                                           Probably Duncan Robertson (1793), the only son of John Robertson (1757-1847) and Janet McCallum (1759-1835) to remain in Scotland.

(6) Archie Campbell Brother to Donald Campbell (#7 below). Otherwise unidentified.

(7) Donald                                          Donald Campbell, brother to Archie Campbell (#6 above). Otherwise unidentified.

(8) John Burdew(?)                              Unidentified

(9) John McPhail                                  Unidentified

(10) Killin                                            Village where the River Dochart flows into Loch Tay at its head in Perthshire.

(11) Breadalbane Addressee Hugh Robertson was born in Breadalbane, Scotland … on the north shore of Loch Tay in an area known as Carwhin at the foot of Mount Lawers (Clan Campbell land).

(12) Alexander G. Campbell John Alexander Gavin Campbell (1851-1922).  As predicted by the letter writer he won the dispute and succeeded the 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane who had died in 1862. Also 11th Baronet Campbell of Glenorchy (1871), 7th Earl of Breadalbane & Holland (1871), 7th Viscount Tay & Paintland (1871). Proved his right to succession of the Earldom to the House of Lords (1873), 1st Baron Breadalbane of Kenmore (1873), invested as Privy Counsellor (1880), served as Treasurer of the Household (1880-1885), 1st Marquess of Breadalbane (1885), 1st Earl of Ormelie Caithness (1885), Lord Steward of the Household (1892-1895), Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (1893-1895), made Knight of the Order of the Garter (1894), Lord Lieutenant of Argyllshire (1914-1922).

(13) Charles Campbell Major General Charles William Campbell of  Borland. Commission in the 2nd Bengal Cavalry 1854, fought in the Indian Mutiny & was wounded, served at siege of Lucknow 1859, fought in China Campaign (Opium War) in 1860, fought in Egyptian Campaign 1882, gained rank of Major General in 1894 in the Bengal Staff Corps. He was unsuccessful in his appeal in the Breadalbane Succession Case.

(14) Donald Campbell Claimed direct descent from the eldest son of the first Earl of Breadalbane who died in 1717. Was unsuccessful in his efforts to secure the Breadalbane Succession.

(15) John McLaren Unidentified. There are three “possibles” in the Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants To Canada Before Confederation who might have had knowledge pertinent to the Breadalbane Succession case; (i) John McLaren who arrived with unnamed wife via Lady Of The Lake in September 1816 (same voyage as Hugh Robertson), settled on Drummond Township Conc-6/Lot-9(SW), (ii) John McLaren of Bredalbane, Perthshire, who arrived July 1820 via the Brock and settled in Lanark Township, Lanark County, Ontario, (iii) John McLaren of Killin, Perthshire, arrived 1818, via the Curlew with wife Catherine and children Christian (4) and Archibald (2). Settled Beckwith Township, Lanark County, Ontario

(16) Blairmore, Lochtayside General reference to lands lying along Loch Tay.

(17) Rinderpest A contagious viral disease of cattle, domestic buffalo, and some species of wildlife. It is characterized by fever, oral erosions, diarrhea, lymphoid necrosis, and high mortality.

(18) Lord Palmerston                British Prime Minister 1855-1857 &1859-1865.

(19) Lord John Russel               British Prime Minister 1846-1851& 1865-1866

(20) Margaret Margaret Robertson, daughter of letter writer Donald Robertson and wife of ???? Stewart. (#4 above). Resident in Scotland. Otherwise unidentified.

(21) Duncan                                       Duncan Robertson, son of letter writer Donald Robertson and wife ???? Stewart (#4 above). Resident in Scotland. Otherwise unidentified

(22) John                                            John Robertson, son of letter writer Donald Robertson and wife ???? Stewart (#4 above). Resident in Scotland. Otherwise unidentified

(23) Charlotte Charlotte Robertson, daughter of letter writer Donald Robertson and wife ???? Stewart (#4 above). Resident in Scotland. Otherwise unidentified

(24) Janet                                           Janet Robertson, sister to letter writer Donald Robertson, daughter of Duncan Robertson (b.1793), the only son of John Robertson (1757-1847) and Janet McCallum (1759-1835) to remain in Scotland.

(25) Christine                                     Christine Robertson, sister to letter writer Donald Robertson, daughter of Duncan Robertson (b.1793), the only son of John Robertson (1757-1847) and Janet McCallum (1759-1835) to remain in Scotland. Married name McDougal (see #26 below).

(26) McDougal Unidentified beyond reference to his marriage to Christine Robertson (#25 above).

(27) Uncle                                          This reference to an uncle may suggest John Robertson (1757-1847) and Janet McCallum (1759-1835) had another (unidentified) son, but more likely refers to a brother to his mother.

(28) Peter McPherson A later (undated & unsigned) hand-written note on the original letter says “I think this Peter McPherson lived in Drummond”. In the Drummond Township census for 1820 and 1821 there is a Peter McPherson listed as living alone (but Lot & Concession number is not provided). In the 1842 census he is living on Conc-2/Lot-15, sole occupant of the household. His arrival date is listed as 1817.

(29) Alexander Alexander McPherson, brother to Peter McPherson (#28 above) resident in Scotland. Otherwise unidentified.

(30) John McPherson Unidentified. In the 1842 census of Drummond Township there are a Peter McPherson (#28 above) and an Alexander McPherson (Conc-5/Lot-26, arrived 1818) but no John MacPherson. Possibly a son of one of these.

(31) Ann                                             Half sister to Alexander McPherson (#29 above). Married name Ann Anderson (see #33 below) and living in Canada. Otherwise unidentified.

(32) William                                       William McPherson, brother or half brother to Alexander McPherson (#29 above), living in Scotland. Otherwise unidentified.

(33) Anderson Married to Ann, half sister to Alexander McPherson (#29 above).  Otherwise unidentified.

(34) Blair Drummond                 Northwest of Stirling in Perthshire.

(35) Donald Robertson Son of Duncan Robertson (b.1793) and mother unknown. Grandson of John Robertson (1757-1847) and Janet McCallum (1759-1835). Nephew of Hugh Robertson (1791-1869) who settled on Conc-7/Lot15(E) of Drummond Township in 1816.

(36) Christianna Robertson Although the letter was clearly written by Donald Robertson it bears this second signature line. Christianna is most likely a sister to letter writer Donald Rob    ertson and a daughter of Duncan Robertson (b.1793) and mother unknown; Granddaughter of John Robertson (1757-1847) and Janet McCallum (1759-1835); Niece of Hugh Robertson (1791-1869) who settled on Conc-7/Lot15(E) of Drummond Township in 1816.

Ron W. Shaw - October 2006 scdhrcda@ripnet.com                     Revised: 19 Feb 2010.