View Full Version : ROBERT BURNS b. approx 1851 LIVERPOOL or DUNDEE?
25-05-2008, 8:13 PM
I've just been to the Liverpool Record Office to try and find him! Two census returns say he was born in Liverpool, and he said he was born in the Parish of St Peters in Liverpool when he enlisted in the RA at Woolwich in November, 1878. He gave his age as 17yrs and 11 mths. His parents were Henry and Sarah Burns and he gave his Brother, Henry's, name as next of kin, so maybe his parents had died. However.........one census return says he was born in Dundee, Scotland and when he married Mary Jane Macdonald in Nova Scotia, in 1879, his Marriage Slip also says he was born in Dundee, Scotland. Several family members were convinced he came from Liverpool......but I'm not so sure. I've looked through everything, bmd's, Parish Records of St Peters and St Nicholas (he said he was a Seaman before joining the Army), school records, crew lists, workhouse records, Non-conformist records, IGI, Mormon records, Probate - nothing, it as if he didn't exist. He was in the Army for 21 years and then worked in the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.
Has anybody in Liverpool heard of him or are trying to trace him like me?
Any clues would be really appreciated.
26-05-2008, 12:27 AM
Could you give the references for the censuses that you have already found? Does Robert's brother Henry or his parents turn up with him on any of the censuses?
The IGI coverage for Liverpool is limited. Although St Peter's was the parish church of Liverpool & hence the most popular one, there were literally dozens of C of E churches in Liverpool at that time, Never mind all the Catholic & other non-conformist ones. What religion were the family?
26-05-2008, 10:31 AM
I have just searched Scotlandspeople.gov.uk for a birth/baptism entry for Robert BURNS born between 1st Jan 1849 and 31st Dec 1852 in Dundee but no entries at all.
There are 17 entries when I do a search for all of Scotland with the same dates and 5 entries for the dates 1st Jan 1850-31st Dec 1851.
Adding in either parent or both brings up no entries for the 1849-1852 dates. Sorry not to have better news
26-05-2008, 1:14 PM
Thanks for your reply. The census details are below:
1871 - Class: RG10 Piece: 1153 Folio: 68 Page: 5
(Find My Past transcribes him as Robert Burns whereas Ancestry incorrectly transcribes him as Robert Bevins) Its definitely the same man - Bombadier, RA - Alverstoke, age 20, born Liverpool.
1881 - He's not there as he was stationed in Nova Scotia at that time.
1891 - Class: RG12 Piece: 541 Folio: 80 Page: 35
This census says he was born in Dundee, Scotland. (Ancestry incorrectly transcribes "Scotland" as "Rutland") He has now left the Army after 21 years and is working in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, living in Plumstead with his Wife, Mary Jane and their six children.
1901 - Class: RG13 Piece: 577 Folio: 94 Page: 19
(Ancestry incorrectly gives his age as 30 and birth year as 1871 whereas it should be 50 and 1851). This census says he was born in Liverpool. He is still living at the same address in Plumstead with his Wife, Mary Jane (not Mary A as transcribed) and 9 of his 11 children. (Robert Allan and Harry have left home).
I can't see his religion on his Army Service Record but when he married in the Garrison Chapel in Nova Scotia it says "Married with leave - Non Establishment" 2-9-79. I have copies of his Marriage documents and the Denomination of the Clergyman marrying him was Church of England. (I have Marriage Certs for 5 of his children - one says Established Church, 3 say C of E and the other says Register office).
Neither Robert's parents nor his brother turn up on any of the Censuses above. I can't find the family on the 1841, 1851 or 1861. The earliest record I have of Robert Burns is his Army Service Record when he joined up at Woolwich and said he was 17 yrs and 11 mths old in November, 1868. Can't find his birth on any of the indexes.
Thanks for any help you may be able to give. Sorry for bombarding you with so much info but it all seems relevant and may help!
26-05-2008, 1:20 PM
It was good of you to look my Robert Burns up on Scotlands people. What a shame he wasn't there.
Never mind - something will turn up - I'm sure! Ever the optimist!
18-04-2009, 9:48 AM
Just nudging this thread as I am at the Gloucestershire FHS and I have RoseBur at my side! :D
18-04-2009, 10:34 AM
and he said he was born in the Parish of St Peters in Liverpool when he enlisted in the RA at Woolwich in November, 1878. He gave his age as 17yrs and 11 mths.
That would make his date of birth as about 1860. But further down this thread you say he was a bombadier age 20 in the 1871 census.
I think you may have 2 different people here.
19-04-2009, 7:51 AM
Ooops! Sorry Wirral....................my massive mistake. Should have been 1868, as on his Army Service Record. Must double check after I type in future - thought I had!
Thanks for picking up on that!
19-04-2009, 8:42 AM
I can't identify him in the censuses either.
The only things I can think of are:
He lied about his age when he signed up, then was consistent with that lie. [doesn't sound very likely]
There is an area of Liverpool called Scotland. Scotland electoral ward is around Scotland Road, just to the north of Liverpool city centre.
His birth was not registered & he does not turn up on the IGI because their records for Liverpool are very incomplete.
He was born & registered under a different name - maybe illegitimate, or his mother remarried after his birth.
By the way, did you look at all the records for all the churches in Liverpool? That would be a huge job. And baptisms are often carried out months, if not years, after the birth. Block baptisms of a number of children from a family are quite common.|shakehead
19-04-2009, 9:08 PM
From my research I've found that he told quite a few porky pies along the way, so am very sceptical about the information he gave when he signed up.
I didn't know about the area in Liverpool called Scotland. Thanks.
Illegitimacy could be a possibility, of course, and...........no, I haven't looked at all the churches in Liverpool. Maybe thats my next port of call.
Thanks for your suggestions.
19-04-2009, 10:30 PM
On his Nova Scotia marriage registration, he claimed he was 30 years old (= b. 1849) and born in Dundee when he married on Sept 5, 1879. His wife claims she is 20, so there may be a bit of rounding up or down of ages. He gives his parents names as Henry & Sarah, and says his father is a carpenter.
20-04-2009, 6:42 PM
Thank you for your reply.
When my Robert Burns married Mary Jane Macdonald he was serving in the Royal Artillery, British Army, and one of his postings was to Nova Scotia where he met and married her on 2.9.1879. His would have been an Army marriage in the Garrison Chapel in Halifax, NS and I have details of this. I have his NS Marriage Slip, Marriage License Bond, Marriage License and Marriage Certificate. Mary Jane was a Servant.
I have been told by family members that he was a fair bit older than her and as their first son (my Grandfather) was born 19.4.1880, it looks as if she was pregnant at the time.
I've tried to find Robert's parents, Henry (carpenter) and Sarah Burns but no luck. No birth, marriage or death registrations and nothing on the England and Wales Censuses.
Mary Jane Macdonald was supposedly born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, her parents recorded on the "Province of Nova Scotia Marriage Slip" as Edward Allen and Mary Macdonald (he was a Whitesmith).
Thank you for the 'novascotiagenealogy' link. I will see if I can find Mary Jane's birth (c.1859 if she really was 20 in 1879. Her Death Certificate for 1934 says she was 71 when she died, so could be 1863! She may have fibbed when she married!). I see registration started in 1864, although there are delayed births from 1836, so I may be lucky. It would be nice if I could also find her parents' Marriage. Is there anywhere else you know of where I can look to see if I can find this New Glasgow family? It won't help with my Robert Burns's date and place of birth, but it'd be good to find out about Mary Jane's family.
Tricky one this!
21-04-2009, 10:50 AM
Thank you for the 'novascotiagenealogy' link.
A word of advice. If you are using Internet Explorer all will work fine and ignore the rest of this. I had a problem accessing the EXCELLENT novascotiagenealogy site using Firefox, and had to switch to using Internet Explorer (the software didn't seem to like Firefox - at least it didn't for me - maybe it was something I said|laugh1|)
With Adele on your side I'm sure this brickwall will be rubble in no time!
22-04-2009, 8:12 AM
Thanks, Keefyp, for your advice. I am using Internet Explorer so hopefully all will be well!
Best wishes, Rosemary
23-04-2009, 12:53 AM
Is there anywhere else you know of where I can look to see if I can find this New Glasgow family? It won't help with my Robert Burns's date and place of birth, but it'd be good to find out about Mary Jane's family.
I'd try the Novascotiagenealogy.com website, looking for births after 1864 in Pictou County of MacDonald/McDonald where the parents are Edward Allen, a whitesmith & Mary. If you could find a younger sibling, this would give you a maiden name for the mother.
The 1861 Nova Scotia census is a head-of-household only census, so you could order in the 1871 New Glasgow, Pictou county, Nova Scotia census microfilm reel to your local LDS centre. I don't see any online transcriptions for New Glasgow, although this website is getting there. They may have moved to one of the other subdistricts already transcribed.
It looks like there's lots of info on the website though and links to other resources.
It is a tricky one.
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