The following information was sent to me about 5 years ago when I was trying to find information about another Robert Emslie who lived in Port Elizabeth at the turn of the 19th/20th century. I still haven't solved that but I think this Robert is the one you're looking for.
ROBERT AND SARAH EMSLIE
Settlers of 1820
Written by Mrs G Emslie, 15/6/73
Robert was born in Aberdeen Scotland in 1771. His mother was Jane Gordon, a distant cousin of Captain Robert Gordon who as an officer of the Dutch East India Company discovered and named the Orange River in honour of the Prince of Orange – Stadholder of the Netherlands.
Robert was a weaver by trade but his enterprising adventurous spirit chafed under the restraint of the humdrum life beside the looms and at the age of 19 he enlisted with 75th Foot (Gordon Highlanders) from 15/10/1789 to 24/7/1805 (15 years 345 days) which were spent in India where he was wounded 3 times. It was during this time that the following story took place: Beaten in the open field by Harris and Wellesley, Tippoo Sahib, fierce and tyrannical “Tiger of Mysore”, retreated within his capital of Seringapatam and firmly ensconced behind its massive fortifications defied his slowly but surely advancing foes. Seringapatam, standing on an island formed by two branches of the river Kaveri, had on two previous occasions (1791 and 1792) been unsuccessfully besieged by the British, and it was now decide to carry it by assault. The honour of commanding the storming party being assigned to Sir David Baird, who at one time had been a prisoner within its walls. On that memorable Saturday afternoon, the 4th of May 1799, gripping their rifles with bayonets fixed and breathlessly awaiting the signal to attack were 2494 British Regulars and 1882 Sepoys. At ten minutes past one Sir David rose up and waving his sword his voice rang out: “Now my brave fellows, prove yourselves worthy of the name of British Soldiers! Together lads and follow me!” In the face of the terrific fire which swept their ranks the troops charged across the intervening space and as the standard bearer of the 75th Foot (2nd Gordon Highlanders) fell riddled with bullets Sergeant Robert Emslie sprang forward and caught the flag from his dying comrade’s hand and led on; a bullet snapped the staff above his hands; Emslie caught it again and forging the stream planted the Colours on the wall of the fortress. Within ten minutes from the time of leaving the trenches the flags of their respective regiments were flying from the summit of the breach and the hitherto impregnable citadel was taken. Robert Emslie, who for his brave action, was mentioned in many dispatches.
From the 75th he transferred to the 76th Foot (West Riding) Regiment from 25/7/1805 – 31/4/1813 (7 years 311 days) which regiment was included in the unfortunate expedition to Walcheran and there Robert contracted intermittent fever and rheumatism,
While in the 78th regiment as British Foot Sergeant he married Miss Sarah Greasley by licence on Tuesday 28 th March 1809 which is registered in the book of the Chapel of Harwich in the Parish of St Nicholls. These present illnesses couple with after effects of the gun shot wounds received in India so impaired his health that after 23 years 291 days service he was discharged from the Army with the rank of Sergeant and a pension of 2/3d per day. He also served in the Battle of Waterloo as Sergeant Major.
About the middle of January 1820 Robert Emslie now 48 and his wife Sarah (nee Greasley) 34 years accompanied by their three children, Elizabeth age 7, Sarah age 5 and William age 3 sailed from Portsmouth with William Cocks Oxfordshire Party of British Settlers in the “Weymouth”. The voyage though a tedious one was without mishap and on the 26th April the “Weymouth” anchored in Simons Bay. Here occurred considerable delay as the immigrants from the ship “Stentor” were transhipped to the “Weymouth”.
From the “Stentor” were transhipped George Smith head of the Lancashire Party an ex officer of the famous 95th Rifle Brigade and William Denton of the Yorkshire Party (ex 2nd Regiment of the Kings Life Guards).
So it was not until the 30th May that the much overcrowded “Weymouth” anchored in Algoa Bay.
After considerable delay at Algoa Bay due to shortage of ox-wagons, Cocks Party eventually reached its destination to the East of the Kowie at the source of Rufane’s River. Thornhill’s Party was located between Cocks Party and the Kowie River and George Smith to the south along the coast.
Robert Emslie’s grant of 82 morgen on the Kleinemond river, which he named “Charlestown” was situated between the holdings of Charles Deane and Sarah Torr. Here he lived for a number of years. Robert and Sarah had a family of 12 children - 7 of whom grew to adulthood. As his health did not allow him to do strenuous work he at times held temporary Government appointments in Grahamstown and it was during one of these that he figured as a foundation member of the Albany Masonic Lodge at its inception in 1828. Sarah his wife died on the 5th July 1831 and was buried in the burial ground of a small chapel called “Wesley Mount” built by the early missionaries. The site of this chapel is now lost.
Robert went to Grahamstown and among different posts was Grahamstown’s 1st Gaoler. During the war with Hintza in 1834 – 1835 five companies of the 75th (Robert’s old Regiment) under the command of Major Cox passed through Grahamstown on the way to the front. Robert hearing of the approach of his old regiment, walked out to Waai Nek to meet them, introduced himself to Major Cox and asked if he might be allowed to carry the flag into Grahamstown. His request was readily granted, and the white haired veteran proudly led the Highlanders down the street to their camping grounds. Robert died in Grahamstown a widower age 67 on 11/10/1838.
Of the 7 children of Robert and Sarah who grew to adulthood there were 3 sons and 4 daughters.
1 WILLIAM KENWARD EMSLIE married Amelia Norman
2 GEORGE GORDON EMSLIE married Elizabeth Jakins
3 CHARLES GORDON EMSLIE married Charlotte de Konig
4 ELIZABETH KENWARD EMSLIE married James D Long
5 SARAH GORDON EMSLIE married Samuel R Hayes
6 JANE GORDON EMSLIE married John Wilmot
7 MARY ANNE EMSLIE married Samuel E Duffey
For the past years the Emslies have been represented in every war in which this country has been involved. Today the descendants of Robert and Sarah Emslie total thousands and are to be found far and wide over the world. They follow every vocation and walk of life and are very keen sportsmen. Such is the story of a Scottish weaver lad who left his home and place beside the loom to fight his countries’ battles and eventually contribute so substantially to the population and national welfare of the Republic of South Africa.
THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE DETAILS OF ROBERT AND SARAH EMSLIE as included in the same letter from Peter Emslie, January 1996.
Marriage Certificate of Robert and Sarah Emslie
Dated at Harwich 30th March 1809
I do hereby these present certify that on Tuesday the twenty-eighth day of March, in the present year, one thousand eight hundred and nine, Robert Emslie of the seventy-eighth regiment – British foot Sergeant and Sarah Greasley of the same regiment were by (Licence) married and registered in the book of the Chapel of Harwich in the Parish of (St Nicholls) by me.
Signed: Cavalier John
Minister of Harwich N.B.
Sarah Greasley, wife of Robert Emslie died at Charlestown, Port Frances S.A. on the 5th day of July one thousand eight hundred and thirty one, and is interned in the burial ground Wesley Mount S.A.
Death Notice – Cape Archives, S.A. No 1826/32/5
Robert Emslie, born Aberdeen; Parents unknown, age 67, agriculturist, widower, date 11/10/1838, Grahamstown. The only property he left, Cocks Party Subdivision No 14, and portion of Lot No 17. Born 1771.
Robert Emslie: A register of the births and deaths of the children since the marriage of Robert and Sarah Emslie
1st Jacob Greasley Emslie born 6th died 7th 1809
2nd Isabella Wilbur Emslie born 6th died 23rd October 1811 at Jermany
3rd Elizabeth Kenward Emslie born 15 th March 1812 at Nottingham. Married 26 May 1829 to J D Long
4th Sarah Gordon Emslie born 8th March 1814
5th William Kenward Emslie born 23 July 1816 at Hull Yorkshire
6th James Emslie born 8th April 1818 at Hull Yorkshire, Died 23rd October 1819, buried in St Abraes, London
7th Jane Gordon Emslie born 16th June 1820 at Charlestown S.A.
8th George Gordon Emslie born 31st July 1822 at Charlestown S.A.
9th Henry Emslie born 2nd July 1824. Died buried in Grahamstown S.A.
10th Mary Anne Emslie born 5th June 1826 at Grahamstown S.A.
11th Charles Emslie born 29th May 1828 at Grahamstown S.A.
12th Frederick Robert Emslie born 20th May 1830 at 6am at Charlestown S.A. Died 27th March 1837.
Signed by Robert Emslie.
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