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James and Robert Knox Irvine Updated

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Marked As Answer Marked as Answered


HeyJudeB4Beatles Report 23 Aug 2011 18:31

My great grandfather James Irvine was born in 1847 in Forgan Fife. I can find him at 1851 and 1861 censuses (as a scholar). He marries in 1870 (occupation Engineer) and in 1871 I find him in Dundee harbour aboard the Esquimaux which I believe was one of the Dundee whalers (occupation fireman). In 1891 he is in Newport South Wales (occupation Marine Engineer). I can't find him in 1881 (wife Elizabeth and son Robert K are seemingly alone in Scotland).

I had always been told he had died at sea but could not prove this until I managed to access the Wills and Probate showing "death at sea" 20/11/1893

Is there anyway of finding out where and how? And can anyone find him in 1881?

Son Robert Knox Irvine also died "at sea" in Kidderpore Harbour, Calcutta Dock India on 28/11/1895. Again is there any way of finding out more?


Gins Report 23 Aug 2011 18:38

I dont know if this is him

New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922
about James Irvine
Name: James Irvine <<AB (Able Seaman)
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1847
Age: 26
Port of Departure: Glasgow
Port of Arrival: Sydney, New South Wales
Voyage Arrival Date: 16 Jun 1873
Vessel Name: Bothwell Castle
Origin Location: Edenborough

What are the details of the will, place etc


Gins Report 23 Aug 2011 18:41

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941
about James Irvine
Name: James Irvine
Probate Date: 9 Jan 1894
Death Date: 20 Nov 1893
Death Place: Monmouthshire, Wales
Registry: London


Gins Report 23 Aug 2011 18:59

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941
about Robert Knox Irvine
Name: Robert Knox Irvine
Probate Date: 15 Feb 1896
Death Date: 28 Nov 1895
Death Place: Monmouthshire, Wales
Registry: London

It doesnt say he died at sea, it says at the dock


HeyJudeB4Beatles Report 23 Aug 2011 18:59

Elizabeth and James married in May 1870. First son William was born a month later (oops!!) and died in 1872. Robert Knox was born in July 1871 and is with mother Elizabeth in 1881 in Dundee. Third son - also William - was born August 1873 and died 11 months later in 1874. Daughter Isabella Williamina (my gran) was born July 1882, her brother James Neish Irvine in 1885 - all in Scotland and finally, Elizabeth Adelaide in 1890 after they moved to South Wales. So James was around in the 1870s which would suggest that the Australia connection is not him.

The death place in the wills and probate is simply where widow Elizabeth was living. It's the same on Robert's even though it clearly says he died in India.

There is no England and Wales death record for either of them.


HeyJudeB4Beatles Report 23 Aug 2011 19:01

Ginny - re Robert "at sea" was being kind as anecdotally he fell off the gang plank into the dock.....but the record for James definitely says at sea though not where. I did quite a bit of research on the Dundee whalers but I can't find anything that would pinpoint a possible location for him


HeyJudeB4Beatles Report 3 Apr 2013 13:13

I thought I would update this old thread - and mark it as answered because, quite inadvertently on another thread you wonderful people have helped me to answer this one!

Thanks to a link to BMD Registers I finally found the deaths at sea of my great grandfather and my grand uncle! The link led me to FMP with the following synopsis of each:

James Irvine, 12 November 1893, Age 46, Gibraltar, SS Harlsey

R. Irvine 28 November 1895, Age 25, Kidderporre Dock (Calcutta) SS Arthur Head.

Having downloaded the "death at Sea" of my great grandfather, I Googled the vessel name and Gibraltar 1893 and this is what I came up with

She arrived at Gibraltar on the 12th November with 10 ton of coal in her bunkers, and having there taken in 160 tons of coal, she left for Rotterdam on the same day, since which date she has not been heard of.

On the 29th November 1893 the body of James Laurence, the steward, was found in the Chenal du Four to the S.E. of Ushant, and about the same time the body of a lad was found on the Isle de Sein, and a lifebuoy marked Ropner & Co. was also found at Ushant. On the 10th December 1893 three bodies with lifebelts round them, marked Ropner & Co., were picked up near Penmarch, and early in January 1894 two more bodies were found on the Isle de Sein.

According to the evidence, this vessel was in good and seaworthy condition as regards her hull, machinery, and equipment. We were not able to ascertain her draught on leaving Gibraltar, but having regard to the amount and weight of cargo and bunker coal which she carried, we have no reason to doubt that she had the freeboard required by the Committee of Lloyds. We have also come to the conclusion that as laden she had sufficient stability.

We should here also refer to the fact that her chief engineer had sailed in her for a period of 12 years. which we assume he would not have done unless he was satisfied with her behaviour.

My great grandfather was the 2nd engineer....

Many thanks once again



HeyJudeB4Beatles Report 5 Nov 2013 18:01

For interest only...I was at a funeral today of my dad's cousin's wife. I met - many for the first time - my grand aunt's children.And they told me a story of how James Irvine - my great grandfather - was not supposed to be on the SS Harlsey that voyage. But someone was sick and he volunteered. The night before he woke at home from a nightmare, screaming and shouting, clawing at the wardrobe door "let me out, let me out". My great grandmother insisted he did not sail as "this was a premonition". He did...and how right she was! :-(