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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Robertson

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 675-677 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

This ancient Scottish family has an ancestry very interesting to trace. The Robertsons of Strowan are unquestionably one of the oldest and most eminent families in Scotland, being the sole remaining branch of that royal house which occupied the throne and kingdom during the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, from which they can distinctly trace their descent. Says Skene: "It is undoubted that the Robertsons are descended from the ancient Earls of Athol, which house sprang from Duncan, King of Scotland, eldest son of Malcolm III surnamed Canmore."

The Earls of Athol were the ancestors of the Robertsons of Strowan. They were the Robertson family before the name Robertson was assumed. Crenan, Lord or Earl of Athol, married Balhoe (or Beatrice), daughter of King Malcolm II. Crenan and Balho were the ancestors of all the Scottish kings from Duncan I. to Alexander III. in the male line except Macbeth. In America the allied families include the Patrick Henry family of Virginia, the Hamiltons and Livingstons of New York, Mac Naughtons, Mac Dougalls and many others famous in American history.

(I) John Robertson, of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the immediate ancestor of William, "the founder," was a descendant of John Robertson, first Laird of Munton, Elginshire, and his wife, Lady Margaret Crighton. He married Anne Hamilton, one of whose ancestors, the first Lord Hamilton, married in 1474 Princess Mary, eldest daughter of King James II. of Scotland. The Hamilton family has been known in Scotland since the thirteenth century, and has been a ducal family since 1643. During nearly a century the house of Hamilton was, after the royal family, heir to the Scottish throne. John and Anne (Hamilton) Robertson had a son William, who founded the family (here considered) in America, and a daughter Anne, who died young.

(II) William, son of John and Anne (Hamilton) Robertson, was born January 24, 1752, at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, died February 19, 1825, in Argyle, Washington county, New York, on the Robertson homestead. When he was ten years old, after the death of his father, mother and only sister Anne, he was sent to Kilkenny, Ireland, to live with his bachelor uncle, Gilbert. In 1772 he came to America with his uncle. They settled on Ballen Kill, town of Jackson, Washington county, New York. Gilbert Robertson returned to Ireland and died in Kilkenny. He left the farm to William, who later sold it and removed to Argyle, where he lived the remainder of his days. He married Mary Livingston, born September 26, 1757, at Tappan, Rockland county, New York, died August 7, 1793, in Argyle. She was the eldest daughter of Archibald and Eleanor (McNaughton) Livingston. The Livingston ancestry traces descent from the seventh Lord Livingston, Earl of Linlithgow and Calender, Scotland, and the Mac-Naughtons and the Mac Donalds, whose ancestor, John Mac Donald, Lord of the Isles, married Margaret, daughter of King Robert II. of Scotland. The line continues to: the great Douglass Clan and George, fifth Earl Marischal of Scotland. Children:

  1. Anna, married John McNeil and had issue.
  2. Gilbert, see forward.
  3. Archibald, married Mary Ann, daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann (Mahan) Cook, and had issue.
  4. Jeanette, married James McDougall and had issue; he was a descendant of Sir John McDougall, of Dunolly, whose grandson Alexander settled in Orange county, New York, took an active part in the French and revolutionary wars, and is said to have commanded a brigade at the battle of Saratoga.
  5. William, married Mary McDougall and had issue; she was granddaughter of Captain Alexander Thomas of the revolution through his second daughter Sarah.
  6. John, married Anna Small and had issue; she was also a granddaughter of Captain Alexander Thomas through his youngest daughter Phebe.
  7. Hon. Alexander, married Jane Savage McDougall and had issue; he settled in the town of Salem and was surrogate of Washington county, New York.
  8. Moses, unmarried.
  9. Mary, married James Patten and had issue; one of her sons, Hon. William Patten, served eight years in the Illinois legislature; he voted for Abraham Lincoln for senator at the time he was opposed by Stephen A. Douglass; he was for forty years ruling elder of the United Presbyterian Church at Sandwich, Illinois, and captain of Company H, One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, during the civil war.

(III) Gilbert, eldest son of William and Mary (Livingston) Robertson, was born in the town of Greenwich, Washington county, New York, August 24, 1778, died at his home in Argyle, New York, February 10, 1865. He inherited the homestead farm on which he resided. He married in Argyle, New York, October 1, 1804, Elizabeth Dow, born near the river Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, February 5, 1781, came to America in 1802, died at Argyle, February 13, 1852. Children:

  1. Mary L., born July 24, 1805, died February 15, 1828; married James Small and had issue.
  2. Jeanette, April 24, 1807, died February 28, 1855; married Thomas Reid and had issue.
  3. Hon. William D., January 31, 1810, died July 6, 1897; married Jeanette Shaw and had issue. He served in the state legislature and was president of the Greenwich Bank and of the Greenwich and Johnsville Railroad Company.
  4. Margaret Ann, February 8, 1815, died July 20, 1844; married David Law, son of Robert I. and Anna (Small) Law; their only daughter died September 9, 1866.
  5. Gilbert, see forward.
  6. Eliza, January 1, 1817, died May 1, 1851; married William Lendrum, son of George and Mary (Robinson) Lendrum; they had issue.

(IV) Hon. Gilbert (2), son of Gilbert (1) and Elizabeth (Dow) Robertson, was born in Argyle, Washington county, New York, February 8, 1815, died April 23, 1896, in Troy, New York. He received his early education in the public school, prepared for college at Cambridge and Herkimer academies, and at age of eighteen entered Union College, from which he was graduated in 1837. For the two years ensuing he taught school in Columbia county, New York. In 1839 he entered the law office of Cady & Fairchild at Salem, remaining until 1840, when he located in Troy, entering the law office of Hayner & Gould. In 1843 he was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of his profession, which he continued until his death. He was always a friend of the public school system, and in 1843 was elected to the school board of Troy. He saw the defects of the old system, labored and brought about the needed reforms and had the appropriations for schools doubled. He was early connected with the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, and in 1847 was president of the association, after having served as corresponding secretary. In 1847 he was appointed by the governor a justice of the peace, and in 1848, this office having become elective, he was chosen for the position, serving until 1853. During this time he was also police justice. In 1851 he was elected recorder, serving until 1856. By virtue of that office he was presiding officer of the common council. In 1852 he was one of a committee to sell the Troy and Schenectady railroad, which was successfully accomplished. Russell Sage, who was a director of the company, was an associate on the committee. In 1859 he was elected county judge and re-elected in 1863. He was an eminently fair and impartial judge, and distinguished for these very essential traits. December 29, 1869, he was appointed United States assessor of internal revenue of New York state by President Grant. In 1873 he was appointed postmaster of Troy by President Grant, was reappointed in 1878 and again April 4, 1882, by President Arthur. He was succeeded in 1886 by the Democratic appointee of President Cleveland, Edward Dolan.

Judge Robertson gave the city a most satisfactory, business-like administration of the post office. During his three terms he introduced many improvements in the service and the increased facilities were so well appreciated that almost every business firm in the city, regardless of party, petitioned for his retention. During this period he was the leader of the Republican forces in the county; he was a born leader and thorough organizer and built up the party to a strength and power it has never since known. Originally a Whig, he joined at once with the Republican party, and as early as 1856 was chairman of the county committee and with the exception of one term held the office for twenty years. He was also a member of the state executive committee, and at state conventions, by his diplomacy and tact, often averted open rupture. He was a member of the state board of mediation and arbitration appointed in 1886 by Governor Hill, and held the office until his death. During his long public career he continued his legal business, having several partners at different times, his last being Samuel Foster, who had been a partner in his earlier days. He was a man who wielded great power but never abused it. He was loved by his friends and respected by those in opposition to him. His integrity was never questioned nor assailed either in political, professional or business life. As a citizen, lawyer, official or politician, the people had confidence in him, and that confidence was never betrayed. As a social, genial companion he exercised a power among his associates rarely equalled. He was of magnificent physique, and very fond of horseback riding; mounted on a fine horse, he made a figure long to be remembered.

He married in Troy, June 10, 1852, Angeline, born March 22, 1832, in Troy, daughter of Dr. Joseph and Rachel (Mitchel) Daggett. Children:

  1. Gilbert Daggett, born March 14, 1853; married Annie Louise Eames, May 18, 1880, in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  2. Mary Elizabeth, September 5, 1854; unmarried.
  3. William, November 13, 1857, died November 21, 1857.
  4. John Livingston, March 27, 1869; unmarried.

Mrs. Judge Robertson survives her husband and resides in Troy, New York.

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