The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

James Voy Robertson


James Voy Robertson was born in Perth, Scotland on the 4th of February 1881 to Ebenezer Robertson and Janet Cooper Melville. Ebenezer and Janet were married in 1867 and at least seven children were born before James, not all of whom survived. Another son, Benjamin, was born in 1883. The 1871 census for the family cannot be found but the Perth Electoral Registers for 1871 show an Ebenezer Robertson, Grocer, living at 69 Pomarium, Perth. In 1881 the family was at 74 Pomarium and Ebenezer’s occupation was given as ‘Waggon Fitter’. As well as James there were two daughters, Janet and Jane, aged five and two.

Ebenezer Robertson died in 1884 in his thirties and Janet died in 1892, or possibly earlier. In the 1891 census the two girls and eight year old Benjamin were living with an aunt, Jane Coutts, in Tay Street, Perth. Fifteen year old Janet was a Mill Worker. James was not with them and was found, aged nine, in the Fechney Industrial School in the city. The circumstances that led to this placement have not been discovered.

Apparently James Robertson joined the army in 1898 and served, with distinction, in South Africa, up to 1902, possibly with the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Back home in Scotland he married Lizzie Campbell Robertson in July 1903 in Perth. On the marriage certificate he gave his occupation as ‘Railway Surfaceman’ and his address as 88 Pomarium while Lizzie’s was 86. They had four children, James 1907, Daniel 1909, Isabella 1913 and Robert born January 1919. By 1911 they had moved to the village of Scone, north-east of Perth, where James was employed as a Forester on the Scone Estate and where they were living in a cottage named ‘Honeywell’.

In October 1914 James Robertson re-enlisted and was posted to the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). In December 1914 he was sent to France. He may have been injured there because the Scone Roll of Honour has a photo of him dressed in ‘hospital blues’, designed to show the public that this was a convalescing soldier. He was in France again in 1917 and he was awarded the Military Medal in January 1918 “for gallantry in action”.  He then moved to Ireland where the Battalion had moved in November 1917 and was then at the Curragh. Returning home on leave, he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October. He did not survive the sinking but his body was recovered and he was buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin.

His story is recorded on the Scone Roll of Honour.



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