Friday, December 21, 2012

IN HOPE OF OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM - Frances Jane Robinson and Frances Maria Whitelaw

NOTE:  Back on December 21, 2012 I wrote the story of Frances Jane Robinson and Frances Maria Whitelaw for this blog.  I wrote the story based on information that I pulled from a variety of sources on the internet.  Subsequent to that, their family contacted me with corrections and clarifications.  So, the story presented below has been re-written to relate it as it actually happened.  Although sad in many ways, it tells the story of a remarkable family.  I hope you enjoy it:

For this week's selection we are going to stay in Section S of Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.  As I have mentioned before, Rosehill is a cemetery where you can find interesting stories wherever you look.

On a recent Find a Grave photo expedition I came upon this Celtic Cross:


The top part is inscribed:


To The Cherished
Memory of
Frances Jane
(Fanny)
Widow of the Late
J.H. Robinson
of London, England
And Dau. of
The Late Colonel
Bowland Moffatt
(British Army)
Passed Away at
Glencoe, Ill.
Sept 17, 1906

The bottom part is inscribed:


Frances Maria
Daughter of
Geo. & Ethel Whitelaw
Grand Daughter of the Above
Sept. 25, 1906 - Jan. 18, 1907
In Hope of Our Gathering
Together Unto Him
                                        F.C.R. - E.C.W.

What can we find out about the grandmother and granddaughter interred here?  Let's take a look.

The stone mentions Colonel Bowland Moffat (1813-1890).  According to The New Annual Army List With an Index (1840) Colonel Moffat was with the 54th (or the West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot Soldiers - Serving in the East Indies.  Colonel Moffat was a career military man at a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.  He served in India which the British called the "East Indies".

Bowland Moffat

Frances Jane Moffat was born in Madras, India on December 4, 1837 to Bowland Moffat and Frances Maria Garrard (1818-1891).

Frances Maria Garrard Moffat

Frances Jane was the oldest of five children born to the couple.  After Frances Jane came Emily Augusta (1839-1917), Bowland Garrard (1842-1924), Reginald William (1844-????) and Eustace William Douglas (1845-1892).    

In about 1850 Bowland Moffat was transferred to the Channel Islands. The 1851 Census shows thirteen-year-old Frances Jane living with her parents, siblings, a governess and two servants.    
  
On May 30, 1859 the Moffats were back in Calcutta, India for twenty-one year old Frances Jane to marry James Hamilton Robinson  (1837-1900).  Seven children were born to Frances and James Robinson: Frances Campbell (b 1860), Hamilton Moffat (b 1862), George Eustace McNeil (b 1864), Emily Willan (b 1865), Alan Forsyth (b 1867),  Ella Stuart (b 1872), and Ethel Campbell (b 1880).

James Hamilton Robinson was born June 10, 1837 in Kilbourn Priory, Essex, England, the son of George Brown Robinson (1804-1859) and Jane Campbell Hamilton (1819-1896).  Contrary to popular belief James' family was not related to the famous Robertson Scottish marmalade family.  The Robertson Marmelade Company was founded in the 1850s whereas the family of James Hamilton Robinson had changed their family name and left Scotland for England sometime in the 1740s or so.
 
Records indicate that James was an East India Trader living in Calcutta, not with the British East India Company as some have related, but as a partner in an independent company called Balfour and Robinson as an exporter of jute and other merchandise.
 
Frances and James seemed to have a very nice upper to upper middle class life in Calcutta and in England until around 1867 when two events occurred.  One, James declared bankruptcy which naturally destroyed their finances and apparently made James a bitter man.  The other was that James found another woman, whose name was Mary Cole.  James started a bigamous lifestyle having ten children with Mary.
 
In 1885 James and Mary and their children moved to Manitoba, Canada.  Naturally Frances did not join them.  In that era, James' very open lifestyle must have been humiliating to Frances as a woman of her station.  However with no money, nor a husband, she had to stay somewhere.  She moved to Wapella NWT (now Saskatchewan) to live with her son.  Life must have been terrible - she lived in a one room cabin with her son and two of her daughters (Ethel and Frances).  Eventually broken in marriage, finances and by the harsh prairie weather, she returned with Ethel to England.
 
On April 26, 1893, James Hamilton Robinson married Mary G. Cole In Winnipeg.  It is not known whether he first got a divorce from Frances.
 
On December 26, 1900, James Hamilton Robinson died in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was sixty-three.
 
In 1904 Frances returned to North America with Ethel to come to Chicago to live with her son Hamilton.  One reason for her return was to see her son George before he died.  George died about two weeks after her arrival.
 
The family tells me that the last two years of Frances' life in Chicago with her son Hamilton (called Tooney in the family) and his wife Ida were happy ones.
 
We will leave Frances for a moment so we can look at the person buried in the same plot as she, Frances Maria Whitelaw.  Frances Maria was the daughter of Frances' Robinson's daughter Ethel. 

Ethel Campbell Robinson was born October 6, 1880 in Reigate, Surrey, England.   As mentioned above, she was the last child to be born to Frances Jane Moffat and James Hamilton Robinson.  She moved with her mother to Canada, back to England, and then finally ended up in Glencoe, Illinois where on October 14, 1905 she married George Whitelaw:

  
1906 finds Frances Robinson living with her daughter Ethel and Ethel's husband George Whitelaw in Glencoe, Illinois.   Ethel is pregnant with her first child and is due at the end of September.  Sadly, Frances Jane Moffat Robinson died September 17, 1906 of tuberculosis:


Eight days later, September 25, 1906, George and Ethel's daughter was born, and they decided to name her after her deceased grandmother.  The baby was named Frances Maria Whitelaw - a living legacy.


Sadly, this special child was not to live to see adulthood.  On January 18, 1907, Frances Maria Whitelaw died of colitis with convulsions as a contributing factor.  She was just under four months old.


The decision was made to bury Frances Maria in the same plot at Rosehill Cemetery as her grandmother Frances Jane:


The story of two women named Frances.  One, a world traveller - from England to India to the Channel Islands to Canada, to Glencoe, Illinois.  A life full of sadness and starting over.  The second never ventured far from her birthplace of Glencoe, Illinois.  Both lie together in Section S of Rosehill Cemetery under a celtic cross.

"In Hope of Our Gathering Together Unto Him."

Frances Jane Moffat Robinson and Frances Maria Whitelaw - May they rest in peace.

2 comments:

  1. Hello Keith -

    The only comment I got from you is the one above. I would love to hear from you and welcome any corrections or clarifications of the story. Please contact me offline at jwcraig11@comcast.net Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good Morning and Happy Christmas Eve,

    Firstly a thank you for posting this material. I had gone to Chicago to see the grave about a year ago but the huge snow storm had hit Chicago the day before and the grave yard was closed as a result.

    Frances Jane Moffat had a very interesting yet sad life. Her husband James was not part of the marmalade Robertson family, that seems to be a myth that has been accepted by some as true. The Marmalade Robertson Company was founded in the 1850's whereas my family had changed their name to Robinson and left Scotland for England sometime in the 1740's, or so.

    Also James was not with the East India Company. He was an East India Trader living in Calcutta, but was a partner in a independent company called Balfour & Robinson.

    Anyway, Frances and James seemed to have a very nice upper to upper middle class life in Calcutta and in England until around 1867 when two events occurred. One James declared bankruptcy which naturally destroyed their finances and apparently also made James a bitter man. The other was that James found another woman, who's name was Mary. James started a bigamist lifestyle having ten children with Mary.

    Eventually James and Mary and their children moved to Manitoba. Naturally Frances did not join them. I am sure in that era James very open lifestyle choice was humiliating for a woman of her station. However with no money, nor a husband she had to stay somewhere. She moved to Wapella NWT (now Saskatchewan) to live with her son. Life must have been terrible, she lived in a one room cabin with her son, and two of her daughters (Ethel and Frances). Eventually, broken in marriage, finances and by the harsh prairie weather she returned with Ethel to England.

    She eventually came back to North America, not with her long estranged husband as you suggest, but with Ethel to come to Chicago to live with her son Hamilton. This was 1904 and one reason for her return was to see her son George before he died. He died about two weeks after her arrival.

    I think the last two years of her life in Chicago with her son and his wife (Hamilton, who was called Tooney in the family, and Ida) were happy. I have lots of pictures of her during her life and the last one in Chicago is the only one where she is smiling!

    A life full of sadness and starting over, from India, to England, to Canada and then to the USA.

    I am interested by the initials on the grave, FCR and ECR. I suspect that is her daughters Frances Campbell Robinson and Ethel Campbell Robinson, but am unsure why they would place their initials and not those of their brother on the grave.

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