The population of Scotland is estimated to be around 5,737,000 however, the global population of people claiming Scottish descent estimated to be between 28-40 million. Clearly, with this many people scattered around the world, there are guaranteed to be some great stories and we’d love to hear any that you’d like to share. Today, though, we are going to look at the stories of some members of Clan Robertson who have laid down roots in Australia.Before we begin getting into the nitty gritty of who Clan Robertson are, there is something I must address. I published this blog yesterday under the title of Clan Robertson and have been reliably informed that such a clan does not exist. I must say that I was a little taken aback by this assertion as I had just spent a goodly amount of time looking into the back story of the aforementioned clan. In my research I found that Clan Robertson has an alternate name; Clan Donnachaidh, at least I was under the impression that Clan Robertson and Clan Donnachaidh were used as alternate names for the same clan. Now, I am no expert on Clans so I guess a slip up was bound to happen and all I can offer in my defence is that we stock Robertson tartan so I just assumed that they were interchangeable.
Clan Robertson / Clan DonnachaidhA brief look at the origins of the clan shed a little light on my confusion as there are two theories on how the name came about. The first theory is that the clan's first chief was a bloke called Duncan. This Duncan was the son of Angus MacDonald and also a good chum of Robert the Bruce's. Somewhere down the line, one of Duncan's descendants was named Robert, in honour of the Bruce, and the Clan adopted this name to celebrate the fact that this Robert helped to capture King James I murderers. This is only one theory, the second theory states that the Clan is descended from King Duncan I. The Clan name Donnachaidh means children of Duncan, which makes sense as both origin stories of the Clan begin with a noteworthy Duncan. It is a complex story to be sure, so all I will say to any clansmen, be they Robertsons or otherwise is; glory is the reward of valour and I am sure that each and every one of you is valiant in your own way.
Scottish DiasporaAs I have mentioned in other posts, I am not Scottish, I’m not hugely sure of what I am if I’m perfectly honest. My mother is English and my Father is Australian. I grew up in Australia but I have been based primarily in Scotland for the last sixteen years, a few years floating around the world not included. This leaves me unsure of what culture I should claim to belong to; Scots tell me I’m Australian or English, The English say I’m Scottish or Australian and the Australians tell me I’m a pommy. The mystery of what to claim as my heritage will, most likely, plague me for the rest of my days and leave me feeling great envy for people who can assert with confidence that they are of such and such a descent.
William RobertsonWilliam was an early settler of Australia. Although born in Scotland, William emigrated to Van Diemen’s land (the former name for Tasmania) at an early age. In Tasmania, Robertson became involved with the Port Phillip Association which would go on to purchase and settle the lands that would become known as Melbourne. Robertson was able to buy up large tracts of land in the area around Melbourne which he exploited to amass a huge wealth. Robertson is still one of the wealthiest Australians to have ever lived, having had a personal fortune of around $1.83 billion (modern value).
George RobertsonGeorge was born in Scotland in 1825 and move to Dublin at the age of four. Robertson returned to Scotland to take an apprenticeship as a publisher. Later, Robertson and a close friend emigrated to Australia with a large collection of books, intending to set themselves up as booksellers. Robertson and his friend very extremely successful in this endeavour, eventually going on to establish a chain of businesses in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland. Robertson was one of the early proponents of Australian literature.
Another George RobertsonThere is another noteworthy George Robertson in Australian literary history. This George Robertson was also Scottish, although born in Essex to Scottish parents. George trained as a bookseller in Glasgow – working for the publishers of Glasgow University, before setting sail for New Zealand. Seemingly New Zealand wasn’t all he had hoped it to be as he only stayed there for two years before making his way to Sydney. In Sydney, George was employed by George Robertson’s (the one mentioned above) booksellers. Our present George Robertson went on to set up his own publishing firm which still operates to this day. His firm was responsible for searching out and promoting original Australian talent and can boast Banjo Patterson among its authors. In the last thirty years of his life, George’s firm was responsible for publishing more new works than all the other firms in Australia combined, one of the most notable achievements of the firm was the publication of the Australian Encyclopaedia.
The Robertson BrothersProbably the most important Robertsons to have made a name for themselves in Australia are the Robertson Brothers - an Band comprised of Geoff Robertson, Ben Robertson and until 2004 Stuart Robertson. The band is famous for being the performers of the theme song for that most iconic of Australian exports - Home and Away. The band's song was used for the theme between the years 2000 and 2006. Although our sample size has been very small, and limited to Australia, it is clear that Scots in general and Robertsons in particular, have been very successful as they have emigrated far and wide. The impact the Scottish Diaspora community has had in shaping the culture of their chosen lands cannot be understated. For more information about Clan Robertson, including associated names, the clan motto and lands, check out our new clan page or for a selection of our products available in Clan Robertson tartan, click here.
If you have any other stories of Clan Robertson members and their achievements around the globe, I would love to hear them - Jack