Alexander STEWART (1831 - 1900)
Alexander STEWART was buried in the Presbyterian cemetery, Rookwood (described in Wikipedia as 'the largest multicultural necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere') in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on 3 September 1900.
He died the previous day in the Rookwood Benevolent Asylum, having succumbed to 'senile decay'. He is described in the death certificate as being 80 years of age and seems thus to have led a hard life for he was in truth only 69.
Alexander was born in the parish of Fodderty, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, on 26 April 1831 and the parish register lists his parents as George STUART and Nelly STUART, residence Cnocknain. Over the years George seemed to move up in the world: a carter (1841 census), a cattleman (1851 census) and an innkeeper (Alexander's wedding registration in 1861) and the 1861 census indicates that he was the hotel keeper at the Admiral Napier Hotel in Cromarty; however, his son's death certificate reduces him to a game keeper.
Alexander appears in the 1841 census, aged 10, living with his parents at Caul Wood in the parish of Contin, Ross and Cromarty. (His parents' marriage on 9 July 1830 is recorded in both the Contin and Fodderty parish registers; it seems George was a native of Contin and Helen (Nelly) of neighbouring Fodderty.) Alexander's siblings are listed as John (8), Margaret (6) and Catherine (3).
At this point it is not clear where Alexander STEWART resided when the 1851 census was held but a groom of that name, aged 19, born in Dingwall (a larger village near Fodderty), is included in the household of John Wilson at 70 Church Street, Inverness. In the same census, his parents resided at Knocknain in the parish of Fodderty, with four of Alexander's younger siblings: Margaret (15), Catherine (13), William (7) and George (5).
The next census was held overnight 7-8 April 1861 and the household at the (Admiral) Napier Hotel in Cromarty is recorded as: George, Hotel Keeper, 60; Helen, 46; Alexander, 26; John, 24; Catherine, 18; William, 16; and George, 14.
It appears that no great care was taken in reckoning one's age for the census.
Later that year, on 27 November 1861, Alexander married Elspeth MUNRO in Inverness. Maybe because the marriage is recorded in a statutory register, Alexander's age is correctly stated as 30. His profession is given as coachman, as it was earlier in the year for the census. His parents are listed as George STEWART, Inn Keeper and Helen STEWART (married surname STEWART). The only oddity is that his usual residence is shown as South Knapdale, which, it would appear, is a parish in Argyll. No other evidence has been found of him leaving Ross and Cromarty to this point.
Shortly after their marriage, Alexander and Elspeth began their long journey to the far side of the world.
George Alexander STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Elspeth (m.s. MUNROE) at Gadgirth in the parish of Coylton, Ayrshire on 28 December 1863.
John STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Alice [sic](m.s. MUNRO) at Cargan in the parish of Troqueer, Kircudbrightshire on 10 October 1865.
At some point in the next three years Alexander and Elspeth left Scotland, for aye.
Jessie STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Elspeth MUNRO on 9 October 1868 and was baptised in the Belgrave Chelsea Presbyterian Church on 24 January 1869. Her parents resided at 11 Rutland Gate Mews in Kensington, London.
Ellen STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Elsped (formerly MUNRO) at Bournside, Hatherley Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on 25 May 1871. The 1871 census was held seven weeks earlier, overnight 2-3 April. The occupants of the coachhouse at Bournside are listed as Alexander, coachman (34), Elspet (32), George Alexander (7), John (5) and Jesse (2). Jesse is identified in the census record as a son, rather than the daughter she later certainly proved to be. The English air seems to have had a remarkable effect on Alexander, for according to the calendar he was nearly 40.
The STEWARTs left England, either from London or Plymouth in April 1872, aboard the clipper Queen of Nations, arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 29 June. The passenger list records them as Alexander (30), Appy (32), George (7), John (5), Jessie (2) and Ellen (1). Again, the voyage seems to have rejuvenated Alexander.
And there, the STEWARTs seem to fade into colonial obscurity. About the only consistent feature of Alexander's journey through life is that he was a coachman (he is even identified as such on his death certificate). One imagines that a coachman could be either like a chauffeur, employed by a household, or a taxi driver, plying for hire, and certainly in the Old Country Alexander seems to have been the former, working his way from estate to estate.
It remains to be discovered how, or even if, he practised his profession in the colonies.