Caroline Robertson (née Swaby)

1785 - 1874

Claimant or beneficiary


'Of Great Britain' at the time of Emancipation, awarded the compensation with James Robertson (q.v.) for the enslaved people on the Bellemont or Belmont estate in St Elizabeth Jamaica as executrix and executor of John Robertson.

  1. Born 1785 in Jamaica (baptised in Norfolk in 1788), the daughter of Joseph James Swaby senior and Ann Wilson (nee Badioli). Married firstly Thomas Plummer (d. 1803) in 1801 and then John Robertson in 1804. John Robertson, who died in Edinburgh in 1818, was a member of the family which owned Gilnock Hall Estate, Friendship, Bel[le]mont and New Buildings in St Elizabeth Jamaica, and was first cousin of the Hon. Duncan Robertson (q.v.). Reported to have died in 1874.

  2. The awardee appears therefore unconnected with the Caroline Robertson who was one of the illegitimate children of Duncan Robertson of Gilnock Hall. He had six illegitimate children all born to Ann Henegan who were described as a 'free mulatto' or 'free person of colour'. This second Caroline Robertson was born in 1805.


T71/870 St Elizabeth no. 161, which gives James Robertson and Caroline Robertson of Great Britain as executor and executrix of John Robertson.

We are grateful to Peter Durbin for his help with this entry.

  1. Confirmation that one of John Robertson’s executors was his wife and that she bore the name Caroline: found in the will of “John Robertson of Bellemont in the Parish of Saint Elizabeth County of Cornwall and Island of Jamaica” made on 16 May 1818 at Gartincaber House, Perthshire, Scotland (available on Scotlands People website: Reference CC8/8/149 Edinburgh Commissary Court); Marriage of one Caroline Plummer, widow, by licence to John Robertson Esq on 3 January 1804: recorded in the St Elizabeth Copy Register Vol 1, page 310 (as filmed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (hereafter LDS) film 1368561); Burial of Thomas Plummer in 1803 at New River: recorded in the St Elizabeth Copy Register Vol 1, page 342 (LDS film 1368561); First identification of Caroline’s maiden name as Swaby: the baptism on 19 May 1809 of her daughter Janet in Scotland, Kilmadock parish, Perthshire, where the register refers to the parents as “John Robertson Esq. of Bellemont Saint Elizabeth Jamaica & Mrs Caroline Swaby his spouse” (Kilmadock parish register: LDS film 1040115); Marriage of Caroline Swaby to Thomas Plummer in 1801: an entry on page 176 of “The Barretts of Jamaica” by Robert Assheton Barrett, which also refers to Caroline as “dau. of Joseph James Swaby, Custos of Elizabeth” [this marriage has not been confirmed in any parish register so far); Further confirmation that Caroline was the daughter of Joseph James Swaby senior and the wife of John Robertson: the PCC will of Joseph James Swaby senior Prob 11/1536/343 made on 5 November 1807 in which he bequeaths the residue of his estate in certain circumstances to the legitimate children of his “dearly beloved daughter Caroline Robertson the wife of the said John Robertson”. The “said” John Robertson is referred to earlier in the will as “my son in law John Robertson of the said parish of Saint Elizabeth practitioner in physic and surgery”. John was surgeon to the Foot Regiment of the St Elizabeth Militia in 1802 (Jamaica Almanac). The Jamaica Royal Gazette, issue No. 49 of 1818, for the period Saturday November 28 to December 5 1818, Postscript p. 24, carries this announcement: “DIED – At Edinburgh, on 21st Sept ember last, John Robertson Esq. of Bellemont in St Elizabeth’s, many years a Medical Practitioner in this island” (TNA reference: CO141/12). Birth of Caroline Swaby: found in the parish register of Dickleburgh, Norfolk (LDS film 1951632). The entry says “Caroline Swaby, Daughter of Joseph James Swaby, and Ann his wife, late Ann Wilson, Widow, was born in Jamaica Oct 9th 1785 and baptized in this Church, April 11th 1788”. The reason for Joseph James Swaby senior being in Norfolk in 1788 is not known but the Jamaica Almanacs are consistent with his being out of Jamaica around then (reported as Custos in the 1787 issue but shown neither as Custos or a magistrate in the 1790 issue). The birth date of 9th October 1785 ties up (almost) with an inscription on an old marble tomb that reportedly still existed at Belmont estate until the early 1960s. The inscription apparently said: “Caroline Robertson. Born 11th October, 1785. Died 7th April, 1874." (GenForum posting by Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins; Evidence that Ann Wilson, the wife of Joseph James Swaby senior and mother of Caroline was born Ann Badioli: marriage of Ann Badioli and Matthew Wilson on 19 August 1775 at St Martins in the Fields, London (parish register at City of Westminster Archives Centre). One of the sons of Joseph James Swaby senior and his wife Ann was called Frederick Badioli Swaby, which provided the clue. Joseph James Swaby senior married Ann Wilson in St Elizabeth Jamaica on 28 September 1784 (St Elizabeth Copy Register Vol 1, page 301, LDS film 1368561).

  2.;topic=529032.0 [accessed 10/05/2012].

Further Information

Maiden Name
(1) Thomas Plummer (2) John Robertson

Associated Claims (1)

£2,603 15s 2d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1818 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Trustee and Executor

Relationships (9)

Wife → Husband
Aunt → Nephew
Aunt → Niece
Aunt → Niece
Aunt → Nephew
Daughter → Father
Sister → Brother
Half-sister → Half-brother
Half-sister → Half-brother

Addresses (1)

Gartincaber House, Kilmadock, Stirlingshire, Central Scotland, Scotland