Margaret Dunbar

1761 - ????

Claimant or beneficiary


  1. "Margaret Dunbar ye Base child of Mary Blake Born June ye 22nd was Baptized Nov 8th [1761]."

  2. By 1784 Margaret was the housekeeper of James Tierney in Kingston and pregnant with his child. James Tierney was a barrister, brother of George Tierney MP and brother-in-law of Abram Robarts MP. In his will he left Margaret £1000 and "all my household furniture and utensils, pictures, plate, china, linen and carriages and any one of my horses which she may choose for herself." James died in 1784 and his daughter Sabina Eleanor Tierney (q.v.) was born 15/12/1784. In Sabina's baptism record, her mother Margaret Dunbar was recorded as "a free Quadroon woman".

  3. By 1787 Margaret had begun a longer-term relationship with Ebenezer Robertson. Their first child, Margaret, was born 13/01/1788 followed by a son, Francis William, 02/05/1789 and another daughter Mary Ann, 09/07/1790. An Act of Assembly, 10/12/1790 conferred, with certain restrictions, the privileges of whites upon the reputed kin of Nicholas Blake, deceased, planter, St Elizabeth, including Mary Blake and her descendants, who include Margaret Dunbar and her four oldest children: "Mary Blake of the Parish of Kingston a free mulatto woman and James Blake and John Blake free mulatto men, the reputed children of Nicholas Blake decd; late of the parish of St Elizabeth, Margaret Dunbar a free quadroon, daughter of the said Mary Blake and Sabena Eleanor Tierney, Margaret Robertson, Francis William Robertson and Mary Anne Robertson the infant children of the said Margaret Dunbar to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions."

  4. Ebenezer Robertson was born c. 1761, possibly in Scotland. His will of 1824 makes provision for the poor in Tain, Ross-shire and also mentions kin there. Between 1792 and 1802, he and Margaret Dunbar had a futher 7 children: Gilbert (born 29/04/1792), Ebenezer (born 15/11/1793), William (born 11/02/1795), Jane (born 10/03/1797), Robert (born 11/09/1798), another Robert (born 25/10/1799) and William George (born 12/07/1801). All the children were baptised in Kingston and in each record Margaret is recorded as a free quadroon woman.

  5. Ebenezer Robertson joined the Royal Highland Society of London 05/03/1805. The convention was to state in the record when people joined from the East or West Indies and no such statement appears next to his name so possibly he had already left Jamaica by that date. He had settled in Beverley, Yorkshire by at least 1806 when his son Francis William joined the East India Company as a writer. In 1815 his eldest daughter Margaret married Edward Boghurst of the Royal Artillery in Beverley. He is recorded in Beverley as Ebenezer Robertson Esq., Keldgate, in Baines's Directory of 1823. Ebenezer died in 1825: there is a memorial to him in Beverley Minster. In his will he left £1000 sterling to Mrs Margaret Dunbar of Duke Street, Kingston, as well as legacies to his children.

  6. Margaret Dunbar had died by 07/11/1844 when Sabina Eleanor Tierney, her eldest child, wrote her will: Sabina left all her possessions including those left to her "by the will or deed of settlement of Mrs Margaret Dunbar deceased formerly of the town of Kingston Jamaica" to her half-brother Ebenezer Robertson junior.

  7. Margaret's son Francis William Robertson became a writer for the East India Company in Madras in 1806 (where he is "of Jamaica" and his father Ebenezer is "Esq. of Beverley, Yorks."). His career is summarised in Record of services of the Honourable East India Company's civil servants: “1806: Writer. 1807: Assistant under the Secretary to the Board of Revenue. 1808: Deputy Commerical Resident at Masulipatam Assistant under the Collector of Masulipatam. 1811: Register of the Zillah of Canara. 1812: Assistant to the Collector of Guntoor; 1814: Head Assistant to the Collector of Masulipatam. 1816: Assistant Magistrate of Maulipatam. 1819: Collector and Magistrate of Rajahmundry. 1824: Collector and Magistrate of Bellary. 1826: Principal Collector and Magistrate of bellary. Died, 16th December 1838, at Anantapoor.” The will of Francis William Robertson, "Principal Collector and Magistrate at Bellary of Bellary, East Indies" was proved 14/01/1840.

  8. Her third son Ebenezer Robertson junior attended Charterhouse School and was a Carthusian 1809-1811. He gained a BA from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1828 and in 1830 married Harriet, daughter of J. Lockwood. Rev. Ebenezer Robertson was of 1 North Bar Street, Beverley, 09/01/1840 when he sold his furniture by auction. Rector of Motistone with Shorwell on the Isle of Wight from 1840 until 1854 when he "resigned being desponding in his mind that he should fall into poverty". In 1847 in St Peter's Church, Shorwell he erected a memorial to his nephew Francis Edward Robertson Boghurst, only son of his sister Margaret, who died 24/01/1847 age 29. Ebenezer junior committed suicide by jumping off the Shakespeare Cliff in Dover, 16/08/1854.

  9. Robert Robertson was still alive in 1824 when he was left a legacy of £5000 by his father. There are 3 possible matches for Margaret Dunbar's children in the compensation records: Jane Robertson, Mary Ann Robertson and Gilbert Robertson (all q.v.). However, at her marriage in Beverley in 1815, Margaret Robertson is given as the only daughter of Ebenezer Robertson so Jane and Mary Ann may have died young.


  1., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  2. PROB 11/1124/8. Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880.

  3. Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880. CO/139/47 (775) via

  4. PROB 11/1703. Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880.

  5. John Sinclair, An Account of the Highland Society of London (London, B. McMillan, 1813) p. 57. India Office Records reference L/MIL/9/112 f.508 J/1/21 ff.164-165: [accessed 08/04/2013]. Record of the marriage of Margaret Robertson and a sourced genealogy of her descendants at [accessed 08/04/2013]. Baines's Directory (1823). George Oliver, The History and Aniquities of the Town and Minster of Beverley (Beverley, M. Turner, 1829) p. 326. PROB 11/1703.

  6. PROB 11/2008/93.

  7. India Office Records reference L/MIL/9/112 f.508 J/1/21 ff.164-165: [accessed 08/04/2013]. Charles C. Prinsep, Record of services of the Honourable East India Company's civil servants in the Madras presidency, from 1741 to 1858 (London, Trubner, 1885) pp. 121-122. PROB 11/1922/14.

  8., Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900 [database online]. W.D. Parish, List of Carthusians, 1800-1879 (Lewes, Farcombe and Co., 1879) p. 198. Hull University Archives U DX/150/16/70. [accessed 08/04/2013].

  9. [accessed 08/04/2013].

We are grateful to Jim Brennan for his assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

[With James Tierney] Sabina Eleanor Tierney (1743-1844), [with Ebenezer Robertson] Margaret (1788-1856), Francis William (1789-1839), Mary Ann (1790-), Gilbert (1792-), Ebenezer (1793-1854), William (1795-), Jane (1797-), Robert (1798-), William George

Associated Claims (2)

£122 8s 6d
£380 16s 9d

Legacies Summary

Imperial (1)

East India Company
notes →
Her son Francis William Robertson was a writer in the East India Company from 1806, becoming Principal Collector and Magistrate in Bellary by the time of his death in...

Relationships (3)

Mother → Daughter
Mother → Daughter
Extra-marital relationships