Robert Jameson Torrens

Robert Jameson Torrens born 10.2.1853 died 7.8.1896 (death date has been variously erroneously misquoted as 1889 and 1916) is a bit of an enigma. I have been able to find out little about him.

He married Elizabeth (Jenny) Long (born ?? died 25 Feb 1895) a daughter of Henry (Harry) Long of Youghal and had children:

  1. John Morrison (Jack) Torrens (11 Mar 1877 to 22 Feb 1944)
  2. Elizabeth Martha (Lil) Torrens (8 Jan 1880 to ??)
  3. Robert Gordon Torrens (18 Jul 1881 to ??)
  4. Alice Eveline Mary (May) Torrens (27 Nov 1882 to 1 April 1912)
  5. Hugh Merrick Torrens (3 Jul 1886 to Sep 1919)

The reason for his obscurity is, apparently, that the family were embarrassed about him: he had a chronic drink problem. So much so that all of his children were strict teetotalers!

The story goes that there was a family feud: the details are unknown, it was not discussed. After the feud, it has been said that Robert Jameson departed for America, taking his middle son Robert Gordon Torrens with him. However, this is not possible as there exists an indenture of apprenticeship to John Morrison Torrens dated 31 December 1900. I also have a letter dated May 18/04 from Richard W Long, stating that 'Gordon is doing nicely and seems very content. He is well and much improved.' So we can tell that Robert Gordon Torrens entered America between 1900 and 1904.

After the split, Robert Jameson's wife Elizabeth took the rest of the family back to her family in Youghal. She died soon after. Their oldest son grew up to be a leading citizen, running the local chemists shop. It is known fact that Jenny and the family were in Youghal after 1894 when John Morrison Torrens was apprenticed to Richard Sunner of the Chemists shop. Clearly the split was before that date. It is also known that Robert Jameson died in St Louis, Missouri and that Robert Gordon had a family in Whitby, Ontario and that Robert Gordon was in Youghal in 1900.

In America, Robert Jameson Torrens died, probably of a drink related cause. One source reports that the official cause of death was 'sunstroke' - which, if you think about it, could well be drink related!

The family diary says Robert Jameson was born at 8.00 pm at Gortin, Mayoughill. The family then moved to Braidujle House, then to Cork then on to Limerick finally to Boatman's Bank, St Louis where he died. He was buried Bellefontaine cemetery, Plot 27 on 9th August 1896.

When did he die?

His youngest child, Hugh Merrick Torrens was born 3 Jul 1886.
Harriet Thompson's original tree, which was prepared for J.W.Kernohan, who was researching for Jared Sidney Torrence shows the death altered to 7 Aug 1916. RMT, in his book, has 7 August 1896 - which ties in with the date of his burial - 9th August 1896.

The family's gravestone in Moneydig (as transcribed by Lavonne Kennedy Arburn) reads:

To the memory of
James Dorren Torrens
(of) Gorton
Born 27th March 1842
Died 22nd May 1862
John Torrens
Born 1804 died 20th September 1864
His wife Martha
Died 12 October 1891, aged 81 years, (born 1810)
Samuel Torrens
Born 1847 Died 15th November 1864
Robert Jameson Torrens
Born 10th Feb 1853 died 7th Augt 1886
Buried in Bellefontaine St Louis, U.S.A
John Morrison Torrens, J.P.
Born 15 Jan 1840 died 13th Novr 1910
Martha Anne Torrens
Born 4th Octr 1850 died 10 Decr 1915

So, there seems no doubt that Jameson died 7 August but was it 1886, 1896? There is still some doubt!

Richard William Long was Elizabeth (Jenny) Long's oldest brother, therefore John Morrison Torrens' brother-in-law. His letters cover the period 18 May 1904 to 19 May 1916. In his third letter dated, June 15 1906, he talks effusively about Gordon's destitute condition, which would indicate that Robert Jameson Torrens died before then: certainly was estranged from his family! This puts the death to probably 1896. Robert Jameson T's oldest son, Robert Morrison T. (Jack) was then 19 and it is known that Jack acted as a father to his younger siblings.

Robert George Torrens (1903.08.04 - 1981.05.12), grandson to Jameson also states the date to be 1896 - as indeed does the family bible.

I have a long letter dated June 15, 1906 which I have transcribed from R W Long to James Morrison Torrens which gives a good insight into the family affairs, and it happens to list all the family.

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Last modified: 2019