Colin Robertson (1856 - 1949) - Minister

Acknowledgement: Much of the information and photographs provided on this page has been provided by Sally Wilson and her mother, the daughter of William Gray Dixon Robertson, and is used with permission. Other sources are listed in the text.

Colin Robertson was born on 21 September 1856, the second child of John Robertson, a Scottish migrant living in Geelong, Australia. Note that Colin had a cousin with the same name born in Geelong in 1862, the son of his uncle Robert Robertson who arrived in Geelong in 1860.

Colin attended Geelong College and then attended Ormond College. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Melbourne (Presbyterian Church of Victoria) on 19 December 1883 and was ordained on 28 July 1885 in the Winchelsea - Barrabool - Birregurra (Geelong Presbytery, Victoria) where he remained until 19 November 1895. Birregurra disjoined the Presbytery on 28 December 1886.

Colin was inducted at Cranbourne on 3 December 1895 and remained there until around 1903.

Colin moved to Ceres in Victoria, Australia probably after he was ordained in 1885. He married Margaret Gray Dixon and they had the following children:

See this page for photographs of the children in 1902.

Colin and Margaret Robertson with baby Colin, on Colin Senior's parent's 50th anniversary in 1902

Travel to New Zealand

In early 1904, the Reverend Colin Robertson was invited to New Zealand from Victoria to occupy the pulpit in Whangaerei for 6 months. On 8 April 1904, the family sailed from Melbourne to New Zealand on the SS Moeraki, arriving on 22 April 1904. Colin was received by the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand on 15 November 1904.

The family then travelled to Whangarei where Colin was inducted on 14 or 20 December 1904. The family was recorded in Whangarei on 3 May 1905. Their daughter, Bessie Glen Robertson, was born in that location. He resigned from that position on 15 March 1907 and returned to Australia, departing 2 September 1907 for Sydney.

On their return from New Zealand, the family arrived in Corryong on 4 January 1910. Colin was inducted at Corryong on 8 February 1910. The family left Corrying on 30 April 1913 and travelled to Moe, arriving on 23 May 1913. Colin was inducted at Trafalgar on 31 May 1913.

Colin Robertson and family around 1915. Back, L to R: Isabelle Croll Robertson, John Noel Robertson, Margaret Colina Robertson, William Gray Dixon Robertson, Jeannie Gray Robertson. Front, L to R: Colin James Dixon Robertson, Margaret Robertson (mother), George Colin Robertson (father), Bessie Glen Robertson

Billy, Noel and Jeannie go to World War 1

William ('Billy') Gray Dixon Robertson, his brother (John) Noel Robertson, and their sister Jeannie signed up for World War 1, along with their cousin John Charles Robertson. Go to this page for information about Billy's World War 1 experience. Billy and John appear in many photographs together (including in France) and Billy was John's best man at his wedding.

Two of many photographs of Billy and his cousin John

Noel Robertson in France

Billy's brother Noel, who had been a clerk with the Victorian Railways at Spencer Street in Melbourne, and who was photographed at least twice in France, was killed in action in France on 14 April 1917.

Photographs of Billy at his brother Noel's grave in France in 1917

Colin's Ministry after World War 1

On 21 May 1920, Colin was inducted at Streatham. He left that location for Melbourne on 1 May 1926.

1924 - William Grey Dixon Robertson marries Henrietta (Rita) Templeton McErvale

William Grey Dixon Robertson married Henrietta (Rita) Templeton McErvale on 9 June 1924. The Camperdown Chronicle of 24 June 1924 ran the following article:

ORANGE BLOSSOM. ROBERTSON - McERVALE. A pretty rainbow wedding, which created much interest, took place in the Camperdown Presbyterian Church on June 9, when Mr. William G. D. Robertson, eldest son of the Rev. Colin and Mrs. Robertson, the Manse, Streatham, was married to Miss Henrietta (Rita) Templeton McErvale, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. I. McErvale, "Cummock," Chocolyn, Camperdown. The ceremony was performed by the father of the groom, assisted by the Rev. J. Gray Robertson of Camperdown, in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends. The church was tastefully decorated by friends of the bride with palms and white chrysanthe- nums and greenery. The bride, was given away by her father, wore an ivory brocaded charmant beauti elaborately trimmed with pearls and showing panels of accordeon pleated georgette, finished with pearl and brilliant girdle. The soft tulle veil was secured with two bands of orange blossom buds, with a cluster of flowers at each side, and she carried a shower bouquet of white carnations, pansies and heath, intermingled with maiden hair fern and asparagus fern. The bridesmaids were Miss Katherine McErvale (sister of the bride), who wore a delicate shade of blue brocaded moracain draped with cabuchous of flowers and silver lace, and carried a shower bouquet to match. Miss Margaret McErvale (sister of the bride) presented a pleasing contract in a coral brocaded marocain, and the twin sisters, Misses Edith and Jean, wore pale helio-trope crepe de chene frocks with tulle head dress to match. All the bouquets were supplied by Miss Sybil Nichols, St. Kilda, and the frocks designed and made by Misses Kitchen, Sydney road, Brunswick. Mr. Colin J. D. Robertson (brother of the groom) was best man, and Mr. Harry Simpson, of Surrey Hills, groomsman. Miss Burrell presided at the organ and rendered the "Wedding March." During the singing of the register, Mrs. J. Gray Robertson gave a splendid rendering of "Because." After the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. McErvale entertained about 120 guests at "Cumnock." The guests were received by Mrs. McErvale, who wore a navy crepe de chene frock trimmed with jade oriental moracain and hat en suite. She carried a dainty boquet of flowers to match. Mrs. Colin Robertson looked becoming in a blue frock with a smart black hat, and carried a posy of seasonable flowers and autumn tinted leaves. The breakfast gathering was a very happy one, during which the usual toasts were honored. The Rev. J. Gray Robertson presided and proposed the toast of "The Bride and Bride-groom." Before the groom responded Mr. Murray Fleming, on behalf of the soldiers of Chocolyn, supported Mr. Robertson's remarks, and referred in Eulogistic terms of the service of the groom at the war and since his residence in Chocolyn. The bridegroom was warmly cheered and responded in a capable manner. Mr. Colin J. Robertson responded on behalf of the Bridesmaids, which toast was honored at the instance of the groom. Mr. W. Baird, Sparrowvale Farm, Geelong, proposed "The Bridegroom's Parents, " which was ably responded to by the Rev. Colin Robertson; and Mr. Wilson of Chocolyn, left nothing to be desired in the capable way in which he proposed the toast of "The Bride's Parents," Mr. McErvale briefly responded. Mr. W. C. Robertson,Geelong, called for honors to the ministers which was unanimously received and acknowledged by the Rev. J, Gray Robertson and the Rev. Colin Robertson. Subsequently Mr. and Mrs. Robertson left for Lorne on their honeymoon, prior to taking up residence at "Bariad" Camperdown. They were recipients of numerous handsome gifts, and the bridegroom's present to the bride was a gold wristlet watch. A social evening was held at "Cunnock" in the evening and was well attended by guests and numerous friends of the bride and bridegroom from the settlement. During the evening musical items were contributed by Mrs. J. Gray Robertson(solos) Rev. J. Gray Robertson(solos and duets with Mrs. Robertson), Miss Colina Robertson (solos) and Mr. Norman Royce (instrumental items).

Colin and Margaret's Robertson's 50th Wedding Anniversary - 1930s

The picture below shows Colin and Margaret on their 50th wedding anniversary in the 1930s.

Colin Robertson and family on their 50th wedding anniversary in the 1930s. Back Row L-R Edith Robertson, Ruth Conley, Hazel Spicer Roberton, Colin James DIxon Roberton, Henrietta McErvale Robertson, William Gray Dixon Robertson, Margaret Conley, Margaret Gray Dixon Robertson, Colina Conley, Fred Fairbank 2nd Row L-R Margaret (Colina) Robertson Brown, Stuart Conley, Jeanie Gray Robertson, Colin Robertson, Noel (John) Robertson, Margaret Robertson, Isabel Robertson Conley, Glen (Bessie Robertson Fairbank) holding Ken 3rd Row L-R Nina Brown (Elizabeth Colina Brown), Ron Fairbank, Norma Robertson, John Robertson, Gwenyth Robertson, Ian Fairbank, Bobbie Conley(Jessie Conley), Alex Fairbank Front Row L-R Wilma Robertson, Barbara Robertson, Catherine Robertson, Lloyd Fairbank, Dorothy Conley

Death of Colin Robertson - 1949

Colin died on 15 August 1949. His death was noted on page 4 of the 16 August 1949 edition of the Advocate (Burnie, Tasmania) as follows:

MELBOURNE, Monday. - A week after his wife, Rev. Colin Robertson (93), thc oldest ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, died at his home in Jordan St., Malvern, today. Mr. Robertson was an old Geelong Collegian and Ormond College student. He was ordained in 1885, and held the parishes of Barrabool-Winchelsea and Cranbourne. He retired from the ministry, 20 years ago.

Children of Colin and Margaret Robertson

Jeannie Gray Robertson (1891 - ?)

Jeannie Robertson enlisted at the age of 26 years for the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1917, and worked in hospital in Alexandria and Abbassia. After the war she worked at Macpherson Robertson chocolates and then Bryant May as a nurse. Jeannie lived with her sister Colina at Straun in East Malvern.

Isabel Croll Robertson (1892 - ?)

Isabel Croll Robertson married William Conley in 1920. They lived in Wangaratta for a time and had 6 children: Colina, Dorothy, Jessie (Bobbie), Margaret Isabel, Ruth, William Stuart. Isabel died in Perth, Western Australia.

(Margaret) Colina Robertson (1894 - 1976)

Margaret (Colina) Robertson married William Brown and had one daughter.

William Gray Dixon Robertson (1895 - 1974)

On his return to Ceres from the war, William ('Billy' and 'Robbie') Robertson was a soldier settler and established a dairy farm. He married Henrietta Templeton McErvale in 1924 in Camperdown and they had seven children - six girls and one boy. In the mid 1930's, three of his five children contracted polio in the epidemic which swept Victoria. William is remembered by his descendants as a colorful character who loved life, even though there were many difficult times. He milked well into his 70's and then lived amongst the families.

Colin James Dixon Robertson (1901 - 1959)

Colin James Dixon Robertson worked for the Geelong Advertiser and married Hazel Minna Spicer in 1926. They had two children.

Bessie Glen Robertson (1901 - 1959)

Bessie Glen Robertson married twice, first to Fred Herbert Fairbanks and then Andrew Beardsley. She was living in Melbourne at the time of her death.

George Munro Robertson (1907 - 1985)

George Robertson was educated at Geelong Grammar. He was very successful in the wool trade both in NZ and Australia. He spent a number of years in WA with his own Robertson Wool business. He married twice, and had two children from his first wife Val. His second wife was Georgie.

Page created 5 May 2014, updated 28 May 2014. Copyright 1985 - 2017, Andrew Warland. email: andrewwarland(at)