We have three interesting pieces of information which illustrate Robert's time as a seaman, from 1851, 1862 and 1870. In 1851 Robert appears in court in Edinburgh as the 'victim' of a theft from the brig Stata of Kinkardine, which was in Leith harbour. Robert, though he was only 30, was a Sea Captain. Four Edinburgh men were 'the accused'. On 28th January Robert was staying at No.2 Dockgate, Leith, with Robert Liddle, a Spirit Dealer. Presumably he was temporarily away from his Dundonald home while his ship was in dock. There was a court case at which he stated that he had brought two casks of Composition Nails from Lima to Leith, arriving on 3rd January. About a week later he went to Irvine, returning on 23rd. He was then told by the ship's mate, Charles Stewart, that some of the nails had been stolen. He said he expected to leave Leith for Port Philip about a month later. On this 'Precognition' he gave his age as 30, confirming for us his birth year of 1821/2.
From this 1851 Court Case we learn two interesting things. Between voyages he managed to get home to Irvine to see his wife for about ten days. Also the journey he had just completed was from Lima, Peru in South America, and the journey he was about to undertake was to Port Philip, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Robert was certainly a long-haul mariner. This fact is also demonstrated by both of the other instances we happen to know about. On 11th August 1862 the Scotsman Newspaper in its Shipping News, on page 4, records the ship Nile arriving at Alexandria, Egypt, from the Clyde on 20th July, and on 25th August, page 4, records the Nile leaving for the Clyde on 12th August, with Captain McElhago. Although in an earlier blog I had thought this referred to Robert's uncle James, I am now persuaded otherwise. I am grateful to a descendant of James who lives on the Isle of Skye for this suggestion. Incidentally I think this proves the value of this blog! Two minds are better than one!
The third incident, about which we have no detail, though we do have the fact, is sadly the record of Robert's death at the young age of 48. The fact is carved on a tombstone in Irvine Old Graveyard. Robert died on 22nd May 1870 at Taganrog, a port in the south west of Russia on the Anov Sea. Whatever happened, at least his body was brought home for burial. The tombstone reads as follows:
BY ELIZABETH BOYD
IN MEMORY OF HER HUSBAND
ROBERT MCELHAGO WHO DIED AT TAGANROG
22ND MAY, 1870, AGED 48 YEARS.
ALSO ROBERT BOYD HER FATHER WHO DIED
6TH JULY, 1832, AGED 42 YEARS,
AND JANET SHIELDS, HER MOTHER WHO DIED
21ST MAY, 1863, AGED 74 YEARS.
ALSO JAMES BOYD, HER BROTHER WHO WAS LOST
AT SEA ON A VOYAGE FROM CALCUTTA TO DEMERARA
IN 1865, AGED 37 YEARS.
ALSO JANE BOYD, WHO DIED 24TH JANUARY,
1880, AGED 54 YEARS.
ALSO AGNES BOYD, WHO DIED 11TH APRIL, 1895,
AGED 75 YEARS.
Elizabeth, Robert's wife, appears in the subsequent three Censuses, in Govan and finally in Tradeston, Glasgow. She died on 11th April, 1895. We know that there were no further descendants in this branch of the 'Dundonald family' for we have Elizabeth's Will (of 1895) in which she leaves all her Estate to her niece Jessie Montgomery Rankine Howie, who was the person who gave notice of her aunt's death. The possibility is that Jessie was the daughter of Elizabeth's sister Agnes. Elizabeth left an Estate worth £422.12.4 which included cash, household furniture, a British Linen Company Bank Account and shares in the Caledonian Railway Company.