NameRobert McPherson , GG Grandfather
Birthca 1821, Ayrshire? [51]
Death1 Oct 1895, Manuka Creek [51]
1Marion Waugh , GG Grandmother
Birthca 1823, Redding, Stirling
Marriage30 Jan 1847, Muiravonside, Scotland [750]
ChildrenBenjamin (ca1851-1929)
 Margaret (ca1853-)
 Marion (ca1855-)
 Janet (1857-<1860)
 Janet (1860-1864)
Notes for Robert McPherson
Probably born in Wallacetown, Ayrshire, a coal mining village. It’s now part of the town of Ayr.

Listed as a gardener, at Lawrence, on his death certificate. They had two sons and five daughters. I don’t know their names. He and Marion came to NZ in 1861 on the Robert Henderson from Clyde, and they lived at Manuka Creek, near Lawrence. He obviously headed out to Manuka Creek, one of the well-known gold fields, to look for gold, but wasn’t very successful at it. Obviously not, or we’d all be rich now. Note that he was a miner back in Scotland, so gold mining may have seemed a natural thing for him to do.

Gold was found at Gabriel’s Gully (close to Manuka Creek) in May 1861, and this is usually counted the real start of the Otago gold rush. The Robert Henderson left Clyde on 11 July, 1861, and arrived in Port Chalmers on 5 October, 1861. So it’s not realisticallly possible that Robert McPherson came to Dunedin, and thence to Manuka Creek, specifically in response to the findings at Gabriel Gully. The timing just doesn’t work out.

We know he wasn’t successful, as he appears in two debtors lists, one in 1872, the other in 1869. In both lists he owed 67 pounds for his assisted passage. Clearly he didn’t pay it off in a hurry. (Thanks to Bob Matthews for showing me these lists.)

The shipping list says there were 5 daughters. One of the children on the ship was called Marion, according to Bob Matthews.

[51]Buried in Lot 7, Block 17B in the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin. The cemetery record says he died 1 Oct, 1895, aged 74, resident of Lawrence. Born Scotland. Died of Pneumonia and Chronic Bronchitis. The gravestone, if there ever was one, has completely disappeared now.
At time of death he had living two sons (45 and 24 years old) and 5 daughters: 50, 43, 40, 29, 27 years old. [751] Seems that the son Benjamin was the 45 one. However, who was the 50-year-old daughter? This is very unclear. The West Lothian census lists Benjamin as the oldest, then Margaret, then Marion, then Janet. At Robert’s death they would have been approximately 45, 43, 41 and 36. The first three ages match well with the death certificate. But the claimed oldest daughter is a real puzzle. For example, if she was 50 years old in 1895, she would have been born in 1845, two years before Robert and Marion were married. I suspect clerical error.

I also suspect that the last three children were not children of Marion Waugh. If there were 29, 27 and 24 at the time of Robert’s death, they would have been born when Marion was 42, 44 and 47 respectively. I reckon this is way too old for a woman with her kind of life to have children. Mind you, if the West Lothian census is correct, and Marion was born in 1828, then she would have been 37, 39 and 42. Just possible, maybe.

James Waugh (related to Marion?) came out on the Robert Henderson also in 1861, as did John Waugh. Maybe a family group coming out together?

There are no McPhersons on the Dunedin electoral roll of 1862. This suggests they went straight to the Lawrence area, chasing gold. Two Robert McPhersons are given in the Dunedin Electoral Roll of 1865-66. One was at Blair Cottage and I know that isn’t our one. The Blair Cottage one is the subject of the book “McPherson family of Dunedin, New Zealand; 1865-1947” by Beverly Jeffery, which is available in the library of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. I’ve read this book, and it deals with a different lot of McPhersons. An inferior lot I’m quite sure. The other Robert McPherson could be our one, but this isn’t certain.
Possibly he had a brother, Binnie, who married Margaret in 1822 (he was 46 and she was 36), and had children Alexander Graham (2 April, 1825), Robert (1827), Janet (1832).

There is a detailed diary of a trip on the Robert Henderson (from Glasgow to Bluff) in 1862, very close to the time of our McPherson’s trip.
Notes for Marion (Spouse 1)
Came from Muiranside (Muiravonside) in Stirling, Scotland. Pronounced Moranside, apparently. It’s a parish in East Stirlingshire, and there is an interesting statistical account of the parish, written in 1841. The population was around 1700, included one insane person under restraint, and three too weak in mind to be employed in labour. Ha. Maybe they were teenagers. Coal mining was clearly a major activity, and the people were poor. However, according to the Reverend James McFarlan, Minister, who wrote the 1841 statistical account, “The people are industrious, sober, and kind, especially to other in distress.” Yeah, right, as the Tui ad would say.

According to Joyce McPherson’s notes, she and Robert (and children) are listed in the 1861 census of West Lothian, Polmont area (Polmont was right next to Muiravonside).

Robert McPherson, Head, 35, b. 1826, Brusher in Mines, Wallacetown, Stirling
Marion, nee Waugh, Wife, 33, Redding, Stirling.
Binnie McPherson, son, 10, b. 1851, Scholar, New Monkland, Lanark
Margaret McPherson, daughter, 8, 1853, Muiravonside, Stirling
Marion McPherson, daughter, 6, 1855, Stonerig, Stirling
Janet b. 4/3/1857, dead.
Janet b. 14/2/1860, Daughter, 1, Bathgate, West Lothian.

According to “A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland”, written by Samuel Lewis in 1846, Wallacetown is in the parish of St. Quivox, district of Kyle, county of Ayr. It was a new village, established only around 1760 due to the new coal mines, and the people living there were mostly engaged in the mines and in weaving. However, Robert’s date of birth doesn’t match with his death certificate. In addition, Wallacetown is in Ayr, not in Stirling, so this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Not clear exactly where he was born, as Joyce’s notes are not completely clear. I need to look at the original entries myself.

I have not been able to trace Marion at all in NZ. No death certificate, no grave, no burial record, no anything. (She was definitely Robert’s wife, as she is named on his death certificate.) Maybe she just died at the goldfields and was dug into a ditch. The only Marion McPherson (MacPherson, actually) that I can find died in 1910 (b. in 1823) but her husband was William MacPherson and they were married in Adelaide. It’s a real puzzle.
Last Modified 15 Jan 2013Created 11 Sep 2016 using Reunion for Macintosh