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Q and A

WHERE AND WHEN WERE THEY BORN?

Q I am writing with regard to my maternal grandparents in the hope that you may be able to assist me in clarifying their dates and places of birth. My grandfather, Walter Frederick STUART-ROBINSON served in World War One in the Army Service Corps. He survived the war (though he did not receive an army pension) and died on 12th February 1933. I was told by my mother that my grandfather was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and that his parents were of Scottish descent. This was a well known fact throughout the family. As he was 60 years old when he died I presume that his birth year was 1873. I have searched the ‘Burnt Records’ and cannot trace any mention of my grandfather, which is not surprising as I understand only 40 per cent of the records survived the blitz. The only possible trace I have found is in the Medals Index. There is mention of a Walter F S ROBINSON serving in the A S C as a private under number T4/107911 and M4/107911. However, I have no way of finding out if in fact this is my grandfather as I am unaware of where else could provide the information I seek. My grandmother, Esther May STUART-ROBINSON (nee CLARKE) stated she was born in Karachi, India (now Pakistan) on 19th March 1870. It is understood that her father was serving in the army in India, but regrettably I do not know either her father’s or her mother’s names. My grandmother died in 1961. The former surname of CLARKE is stated on all her children’s birth certificates, although my grandmother told my sister that her maiden name was BRIGHT. She also gave her name on all the children’s birth certificates as just May STUART-ROBINSON and only used E M STUART-ROBINSON on my grandfather’s death certificate. I have searched online (using the free facilities at Kew) under all possible name variations but have been unable to trace any birth record for her. I have also searched the births records in this country in the event that she was born here and taken to Karachi as a small child. However, she definitely spent some years as a girl living in India. I have also searched all available English censuses but cannot trace either of my grandparents; it is possible that they came into this country after the 1901 census. Also no trace of any marriage taking place between my grandparents in this country can be found. I have also searched the LDS online records to see if anything has been recorded outside this country but nothing has been found. The oldest child born to them that I have been able to trace was born in 1902: Temperance Violet Munroe STUART-ROBINSON. She was born in Little Sodbury, Gloucestershire, but died in 1905. I have also checked the 1901 census for Little Sodbury but no trace of my grandparents can be found. I searched the same census under my grandmother’s former name of CLARKE (and BRIGHT), but again no trace. It is highly likely that the closed 1911 census will be of assistance as my grandparents lived in London from about 1904 onwards and produced eight further children between the years of 1904 and 1914. All the children had the name Munroe before their surname of STUART-ROBINSON. I have also visited the Family Records Centre and have checked the overseas section (ie army returns, births at sea, consular births etc) but have not been able to trace anything. I have also checked the free online passenger lists, but again no trace can be found! Any assistance or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Carol A Sunter


A If your grandfather was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1873 and spent his early years in the USA, then there is a good chance he will appear in the US census returns for 1880, 1890 etc. These you can search online at www.ancestry.com. Have you searched the Scottish records of births? These are available at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk You say you have searched the ‘Burnt Records’; that is, the soldiers’ WWI service papers that were badly damaged by enemy action in WWII. However, you do not say you have also searched the ‘Unburnt Records’ and therefore this needs to be done. This can be done by visiting The National Archives or using the Ancestry.co.uk website. As your grandmother was almost certainly born in India you need to search the relevant birth/baptism records held at the India Office Library at the British Library in London. The ‘Ecclesiastical Returns’ are said to include around 80 per cent of all births, marriages and deaths up to independence. You will need to visit the British Library to undertake a comprehensive search, or try the partial indexes via the India Office Family History Search (http://indiafamily.bl.uk/UI). Also, you should investigate the resources on the Families in British India Society website (www.fibis.org). As the 1911 census may hold the answer, I note that Claribel E M STUART-ROBINSON was born in 1910. You might wish to consider having a search done for the address where she was born. Details on how to do this are on The National Archives website (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).

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