• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Robert William Henry Herbertson 1865 to 1940

I began researching the Herbertson Family Tree in 1981 out of curiosity about my origins. I was born in Portland and spent a considerable period of my life living there. Although Herbertsons were known as an old Portland family, my side of the family knew nothing of the family history and there was a reluctance of my grandfather to discuss his origins.

From a great-aunty I found out that my great-grandfather's name was Robert William Henry Herbertson. His birth was meant to have been recorded under the name of "Grey" or "Gray", his mother's name was Mary and he grew up interstate. For the next 10 or so years I spent considerable effort finding out what the truth actually was.

I began my research by sending away for the birth certificate of my grand-father, Thomas Price Herbertson. It revealed that his mother's name was Maria Herbertson (nee Bannam) and his father's name was not listed. I then sent away for Tom's brother's; Maurice Stanley Herbertson birth certificate. It showed his father's name as Robert William Henry Herbertson, aged 39 in 1904.

Now that I had an approximate date of birth for Robert W.H. I then searched for his birth under the name of Herbertson, Grey and Gray without success. I also obtained a copy of his marriage certificate to Maria Bannam in 8th August 1901. This showed his mother's name as Mary Herbertson and his father's name was not stated. As I had seem to reach a dead-end I then basically gave up and assumed that he was the illegitimate son of Mary Herbertson, son of Robert 1804 to 1879 although her death certificate revealed no children.

In 1994 I began corresponding Janet Browning Millar, a descendant of Thomas Herbertson. She told me that Mary could not have been the father of Robert W.H. as none of the Herbertson girls were able to have children (although it appears as though Janet actually had at least 7?) and that it was common knowledge in her side of the family that Robert W.H. was the illegitimate son of Robert Herbertson who married the Cathels sisters. The mother of Robert W.H. was Mary, and although her surname was not known, she lived near Heywood. It is also believed that there may have been another child; a girl, although nothing is known of her. It is also believed that although Robert W.H. was born prior to his first marriage to Susan Cathels, he continued to maintain his relationship with Mary.

In 1883, Isabella Herbertson (nee Bailey) disinherited Robert. From her will;

"This is the last Will and Testament of me Isabella Herbertson of Portland Widow. I bequeath to Mrs Elizabeth Bell the sum of Twenty pounds. I devise and bequeath all the real estate and the residue of my personal estate to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease unto all my children (excepting my son Robert) to be equally divided among them share and have alike. I appoint my sons Thomas and Samuel to be Executors of this my Will and I herby revoke all former Will. Dated this sevcnth day of May in the year 1883.
Isabella Herbertson"

I am now completely satisfied that Robert William Henry Herbertson 1865 to 1940 was the son of Robert Herbertson 1843 to 1918. I have verified that he died in Maryborough Victoria in 1940 and his death certificate has both his mother's and father's names as "unknown". I have also verified that he married Maria Bannam in 1901, but is he my great-grandfather? Is he the father of Thomas Price Herbertson 1908 to 1988?


Update 11th October 2011

Well, I've finally done it. I've find a record of his birth!

I found a record of enlistment into the AIF in 1918 in the name of Henry Herbertson. I paid for the documents to be digitised and was able to view them online at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=9563640

Amongst other things it gave a date of birth of 14th June 1874 and his next of kin was his wife, Maria Herbertson.

So, using this date of birth which was 9 years different to what information I had previously I did a search on Ancestry.com and came up with a record of 'Robert William H. Herbertson' born in 1871 in the index of State Ward Registers. There was a 'see also' to 'Robert William H. Jennings' and also 'Robert William H. Johnston'.

A search under these names found a birth registration in 1871 of 'Robert Herbertson Jennings', mother 'Annie Jennings'.

Robert Herbertson Jennings birth certificate


So the next step was to find out who Ann Jennings was!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:52