Elizabeth Webster

Summary information

Name Elizabeth Edney nee Webster
Date of birth 24 January 1802
Place of birth Forfarshire, Dundee, Scotland
Died 1 October 1887
Place of death Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Mother Martha Simpson
Father William Webster
Siblings Catharine Webster
Margaret Webster
Ross Webster
Spouse John Robertson Edney
Date of marriage 17 September 1822
Place of marriage Dundee
Children Martha Webster Edney
Kenneth McDonald Edney
John Edney I
unnamed Edney
James Brown Edney
Occupation Washerwoman

Life in Scotland

It was while working as a sawyer in 1820 that Robertson met Elizabeth Webster, two years his senior. Robertson and Elizabeth married in Dundee in early 1822, and welcomed their first child, Martha Webster Edney. Martha was soon joined by her brother, Kenneth McDonald Edney, born the following year.

After the birth of Kenneth, the family moved from Dundee to Edinburgh around 1929-30. Following the move, Robertson changed occupations, ultimately becoming a spirit dealer. Elizabeth gave birth to another son, John. Elizabeth quickly became pregnant again, although this child, unnamed in all records, was to only live a few years. By 1831, Martha, Kenneth and John were all dead. Kenneth died in 1830, shortly after John’s birth, and John died within six months of Hooping Cough. James Brown Edney was born in 1832.

Robertson's criminal conviction

On 8th November 1833 the Edinburgh Court of Judiciary found Robertson guilty of "Assault with intent to Ravish" and sentenced him to transportation to New South Wales for 14 years.

Emigration to New South Wales

After Robertson's transportation, Elizabeth moved back to Dundee to live with her parents, and raised their two sons—James Brown Edney and an unnamed son?? (who died within a few years). The 1851 census lists Elizabeth (at the time going by the surname Webster) living at 1 St David's Lane, Dundee, along with her son James Brown Edney, her mother Martha, and another woman called Susan Robertson (aged 58).

Around 1857 Robertson arranged to bring his wife Elizabeth out from Scotland, for a remittance of 15 pounds. Robertson took a cheque with him when he went to meet his family in Sydney in November 1959. James Brown Edney, his wife Elizabeth, their son James Welsh Edney, and their daughter Mary Welsh Edney (born on voyage) accompanied Elizabeth on the migration to Australia. On meeting Robertson in Sydney on arrival, the family walked the 310 miles to Wagga Wagga, taking around three weeks.

Uncertainty on children

Robertson's convict record states that he had two male children alive at the time of transportation (1833). It is unclear if the second child was the unnamed son born in 1831, or another son born after James Brown. However, no such additional son is included on his death record. Interestingly, Elizabeth’s death certificate notes another daughter deceased. It is interesting to note that Robertson and Elizabeth's son, James Brown Edney, is the informant on both death certificates.

Robertson's death record also records his living son at the time of death as being 4 years old. As James Brown would have been 40 at this time, and unlikely to omit himself in reporting details, this is presumed to be an error.


Death record Marriage record 1851 Census entry
death johnrobertsonmarriagerecord census


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