A Branch from Cumberland and Anglesey

Written by Jill Coulthard, wife of Captain John M. Coulthard, Master Mariner



Robert, Annie and family then moved to Bookwell House in Egremont where they commenced upon a town life though, for Robert, with additional gentlemanly rural pursuits.    Thereafter he appears to have lived on his investments.

MARTHA, known as Pattie, was the first child to be born at Egremont on 4 November 1870 and baptised on 30 January 1871 again at Haile.    Her godparents were Robert's cousin Joseph Robinson Fox and his wife Bridget, formerly a Parker from Bootle and a relation of Annie's cousins.   The other godparents were Mr. and Mrs. A. Wood whose relationship or friendship to the family is not known.    Pattie was apparently a universally accepted pet name for Martha and one which she carried all her life except on official documents.

Around this time Robert appears to have fallen in with or renewed acquaintance with another Cumbrian, John Danson Newton, known universally as "J.D.", pictured right.    J.D. married Bridget Parker's sister Mary Jane on 4 October 1871.    Their brother William Parker had already married Robert's second cousin Jane Mossop at St. Bees on 15 February that year.    The Parker family would be very familiar acquaintances of Annie and her relations at Bootle and therefore there were additional ties between the Bootle and St. Bees families.

J.D., some eleven years younger than Robert, was an extremely energetic and successful entrepreneur in Liverpool.     He had been a shipping clerk but in conjunction with a Master Mariner friend, Captain Kelly, had decided to found his own shipping line.    This was the "Dale Line" with all ships being named after Cumbrian dales and was to play a very important role in Robert and Annie's future.

Robert invested heavily in the line and appears to have been acting as an agent for J.D. in Cumberland by interesting other would be investors, amongst them members of his own close family.    This was the age of Victorian investment in new enterprises and technology and, as has previously been seen, Robert already held railway shares.  

The first ship acquired was "Borrowdale" in which Robert's notebook reveals he held 4 of the 64 shares at a cost of 1134.16.4.   His first dividend received on 14 February 1870 was 274.17.4, a return of nearly 25% at a time when Government Stock was yielding about 3% with which he must have felt well pleased despite the inherent risks to shipping in those days.    In addition, a whole new social life opened up to them.



On  Saturday June 3 1871 at the yard of the Whitehaven Shipbuilding Company, Annie was invited to perform the christening ceremony of the "Patterdale" which she duly did to great applause. A lavish banquet with numerous toasts and speeches followed.    The "Whitehaven Herald" reported that Patterdale was "gaily decorated with flags and streamers and every arrangement had been made which could add to the comfort of those on board.  An immense crowd had congregated on the piers and at every available point where a glimpse of the proceedings could be obtained......... The yard presented a picturesque appearance, being crowded with ladies and gentlemen, whose gay and varied costumes enhanced the gala-like scene".   "At 10.40 the Volunteer brass band entered the yard and at the same moment the ceremony of christening the "Patterdale" was performed in the most satisfactory manner by Mrs. Coulthard, Egremont, amidst the hearty cheering of the spectators on the platform and in the yard."

The Dale Line was based in Liverpool from where its ships sailed to Australia and San Francisco via Cape Horn carrying cargoes of wool and grain as well as passengers.    J.D. Newton was unusual if not unique in those times by insisting that his ships were as well found and the crew as well fed as the highest standards could achieve.   His motto was "Be Just and Fear Not" which banner was always displayed when he boarded one of his ships.    For this reason it was a very sought after line to have a berth on and Robert received several requests for recommendations from prospective crew members which he duly passed on.

J.D. was very "hands on" which saw him busying himself about the Liverpool quayside, warehouses and cargo markets at a somewhat frenetic pace.    Despite this he managed to keep up an almost non-stop correspondence with Robert describing these affairs and regretting on occasions that pressure of business did not allow him as much time as he wished to visit his friends in Cumberland.    Robert seems to have had a sideline in acquiring pedigree dogs for export.    Here again J.D. expresses his concern for the welfare of the dogs and assures Robert that they will be well looked after as "there are a lot of Cumbrians on board who understand dogs and will take a pleasure in getting them out".    Some of these dogs were greyhounds perhaps for sports which colonials and other emigrants missed from home.

Sometime before April 1871 a new departure occurred in the family which was to have far reaching effects.   Two of Annie's unmarried brothers, John and William, had left Cumberland to take on Plas Llandegfan farm near Beaumaris in Anglesey.   Living there with them, where they farmed 500 acres, was their sister Eliza Jane and later on their sister Tamar also made her home with them.      Their first cousin Mary Tyson of Bootle, was also visiting them in early April 1871.    Her late mother Mary had been Annie's mother's sister.

Two more of Annie's brothers, Grice and James had moved to the Liverpool area where Grice married Rebecca Lightbound on 20 July 1871 at Birkenhead.    Her last remaining brother, George, was a Chemist in Ulverston at a business owned by their cousin Anne Tyson's husband Henry Whitaker Mackereth.    Therefore, Annie, apart from her parents, was the only immediate member of her family still living in Cumberland.

On 4 September 1871 Robert with his sons Bob and Jack set off for Liverpool where they spent the evening with Grice Brocklebank.    The next day they set off by boat for Plas, Robert noting that Bob was very sick but Jack not so.    On 7 September they had a fine day shooting and killed 50 brace.   They went to Baron Hill Sheep Sales where William and John Brocklebank bought 40 ewes.   Little did Robert know at the time that Jack would one day farm Baron Hill for nearly forty years.


Tamar was obviously down at this time as she is mentioned and it seems that brothers James and George Brocklebank were also visiting.   Maybe it was the first time the rest of the family had been over to visit their brothers in Anglesey and be shown their new farm.  They also went to Bangor and visited Penrhyn Castle.    On 22 September they left for Liverpool on the steamer having a very rough journey and this time it was Jack who was sick.   The next day they left Liverpool for home.

Back in Egremont, life continued.   Robert paid the first instalment on Dale Line's new ship "Wasdale", he went for tea with his aunt in St. Bees, attended the famous Egremont Fair and also a meeting of the Coursing Club at Whitehaven of which he was Chairman.    Annie went to visit her parents at Bootle and left Jack there for a visit.     He went to Whitehaven on 1 February 1872 to meet J.D. Newton and bring him back to his house.  On 10 February they went to see "Wasdale" launched but she stuck on the Ways.    This was a bad omen for Whitehaven Shipbuilding as the harbour silted up and later vessels were built in Liverpool.   By 14th the ship was freed and in the harbour and Robert records that he has again taken 4 of the 64 shares at a cost of 1087.10.    He also bought shares in Mowbray Iron Ore Company.

On 5 March 1872 Annie and Jack went to Bootle to see her mother who had had another stroke.    She seemed better by 9 March when Robert went down to collect his family.    It seems that Annie's sister Eliza Jane had returned from Wales and is mentioned as "Aunt Lizzie" in accompanying her mother.   Robert went down to Liverpool on 28 March travelling on "Wasdale" and spent the evening with J.D. and Grice and on the following day crossed the Mersey on the ship to spend the evening at J.D. Newton who lived on the Birkenhead side.

On 2 May Annie with Jack and Lizzie went to Bootle on the fast train, returning on 5th with her mother whom they called "Ganny" or "Gammy".   They took her back on 11th.   By August she was "only middling" and it is thought she died shortly after aged 66.

Around this time Robert bought the children a Rocking Horse, Kate started school and Robert, though not feeling at all well with a cold, went to see the children dance.    In the winter he was confined to the house for a long period with his cold and records on 16 January 1873 that it has rained more or less each day for upwards of four months.    He felt well enough to go out for a walk but was prevented by a regular hurricane of wind and rain.   It must have been a trying time for all.   On 22 January he went to High House, St. Bees for a few days to stay with his cousin Joe Fox in the hope that a change of air would do him good.

On 22 April 1873 he went to Wasdale to enrol his son Bob, whom he refers to as Robie, in Mr. Pailson's school which he was to attend after midsummer.    This was on Bob's tenth birthday and he remained at the school until he was thirteen or fourteen years old.    Robert completed this day out by continuing to Wasdale Head where he dined at the Inn run by Will Ritson, a larger than life Cumbrian character who was famous for the tall stories with which he regaled his guests.

In July 1873 Robert records the shares taken in the new ships "Ennerdale" and as yet unnamed but later called "Langdale".   Robert is again a major investor taking two shares in each.   Amongst the list of other investors are W. Fox, H. Fox, Arthur Brewin, J.R. Fox, John MacQueen, H.W. Brocklebank, G. & Jas Brocklebank so it appears the success of the Line and the rewards to be gained had been heeded by Robert's relations whom he had no doubt had opportunity to canvass on his visits to St. Bees.

On 19 March 1874 Robert records the arrival of the Newton's second child, a daughter Mary.   He could not of course see into the future when she would marry his yet unborn son Percy and give rise to the South African  Coulthard line.    In April Robert and Annie with Lizzie and Patty left for Liverpool, staying the night with the Newtons.   They then went to Plas for a two week visit before returning to Birkenhead.   J.D. Newton and Joe and Bridget Fox joined them on the way.   On the 15th Mary Newton was christened with Robert, Annie, Joe and Bridget as her godparents.

FREDERICK ALEXANDER, known as Fred was born 29 November 1874 at Egremont, a gap of four years since their last child.   Again he was christened at Haile on 28 December.   This evened up the family with three boys and three girls.

In 1875 Robert showed a handsome return on his investment in Dale Line and was involved in other share dealings.    His joint share values were then worth 12,503.

By March 1876 Bob was enrolled in Clare Mount or Clairmont School at Wallasey rather than his father's old school of St. Bees.   This was near the Newton family and also his uncles Grice and James Brocklebank who no doubt combined to keep an eye on him.   Over the years he received certificates in several subjects, Mathematics, Greek, Divinity, English and Geography and his conduct was good.    Perhaps his parents felt that there was more future for him in that part of the world.

On 29 August 1876, less than two years after Fred, PERCY became the last child born to Robert aged 47 and Annie aged 43.   By this time his eldest sister Kate was fifteen years old.

This a photograph of Robert in mid-life.  

Although he had his portrait taken on several occasions none appear with his wife or with a family group.

The only photograph we have of Annie is in later life, which will be seen later, but which of course does no justice as to how she might have looked as a young woman.

In late November 1876 Robert received a substantial legacy from the will of his late mother's uncle Rev. John Fox D.D., Provost of Queen's College, Oxford.   Although Rev. John Fox had died in 1855 he had left a life interest to his brother Thomas who died at the age of 92 whereupon it became divisible between the descendants of the unmarried Provost's brothers and sisters.  

By this time Jack had joined his brother Bob at school in Birkenhead.   J.D. Newton wrote to Robert that they wanted Bob and Jack to spend the weekend with them before they returned home for the Christmas holidays.    Bob had a highly satisfactory school report.   He was taking the major subjects of Latin Grammar, Composition and Translation, Greek Grammar and Composition, French Grammar, Composition and Translation, English Grammar, Composition and Literature, Science, Geography, History, Repetition, Mathematics - Arithmetic Euclid and Algebra, Divinity and Drawing.   He was not taking Music, either Instrumental or Vocal, nor Dancing, nor Drill.     Jack's school report is not given probably because Roy Coulthard had his own father's but not his uncle's.    By Easter 1877 Bob had taken up instrumental music.

The first cloud appeared on Robert and Annie's horizon in August 1877 when  "Wasdale" was in collison with the Barque "Craigmullen" of Liverpool in the Pacific.    However a division of the remaining profits still brought Robert the sum of 1,200 and he was receiving dividends from other sources.

Worse was to come in September 1878 when "Langdale" was wrecked near Wexford and the shareholders only received 26.11.0. each.    For the first time in January 1879 Robert's notebook shows more outgoings than income and numerous small traders paid.   In March he sold 1019.18.9. Railway Shares and then 500 other unspecified shares.     He still had his sons' boarding school fees to pay as well as expenses for his other children, his wife and self.

It seems that J.D. Newton was well aware of the situation as he wrote in May 1879 making Robert an offer which he says he already had in mind that Robert join him in the business in Liverpool in a gentlemanly, un-onerous way with ample remuneration.    He says that he has as much business as he needs and as Bob will be ready to join them next year that Robert would be effectively keeping the seats warm for his sons.    He also wrote that "I have felt for you so much in these depressed times" so it may be that the economic climate in general was not good at this period.

The decision was made and in July of that year the house in Egremont was given up, furniture sold and they moved to 6 Chatham Place, Edge Hill, Liverpool.   Thus severed the Cumbrian connection of the family.

An undated letter which must be in late 1879 from J.D. Newton to Robert tells him not to trouble himself to come out until he is quite fit and that the business in hand is taken care of.   He adds that most people on the Birkenhead side are in a panic on account of Scarlet Fever and there have been 25 cases nearby though at present they are all well.    At this stage the Newtons had five childen or four with one imminently expected.   By this time it appears that Bob has joined the business as J.D. has given him permission to go to Plas and he sends Robert a turkey which he begs he will accept with all good wishes for the season.

This was the last communication between them as J.D. was suddenly called away on business on 29 December 1879.    Robert evidently ventured out and it is said that he gave up his seat in a bus to a lady, himself riding on the outside on a cold wet night.    This exacerbated his illness and he died of bronchitis on 5 January 1880 less than six months after starting his new life in Liverpool and just a few months after his fiftieth birthday.    He was buried in Smithdown Road Cemetery.

The Trustees and Executors of Robert's will were named by him as his friends - his cousin Joseph Robinson Fox, his brother-in-law William Brocklebank and John Danson Newton.    He left Annie all his household goods and furniture, 300 for her immediate use and an annuity of 300 payable quarterly.   After her decease he left all the plate marked with his crest equally amongst his sons who reached the age of twenty-one years and his unmarked plate together with jewellery and trinkets to his daughters at the same age or at their marriage before then.   He left 390 to be invested on behalf of the education, maintenance and advancement of his son Robert and the sum of 272 similarly for John.    All other investments and money were to be used for the benefit of his other children until the youngest reached twenty-one.   The Trustees had discretion to advance up to 500 for the advancement in the world of any of his children notwithstanding that the youngest had not reached his majority.