Location: Arbroath, Angus, Scotland, United Kingdom
Robert Allan is listed in the census with his parents, then marries Jessie McLeod and drops off the radar. He’s not with his family in the 1881 or 1891 censuses, but is still fathering children and signing all the birth certificates, so he was in the vicinity of Arbroath at least until 1886.
The family legend is that he made a lot of money from the pneumatic beer pump. We have a photo of him and James Keith (who grew his family’s small engineering firm into the huge Keith & Blackman’s) posing beside some kind of device and there’s lots of talk about Keith’s “liquid elevator” pump in the newspapers, but no mention of Robert at all.
The rumour is that Robert took his “fortune” and ran off to South Africa, abandoning his family. The implication is that he left as a wealthy man living the high life, but an additional possibility is that he went off to fight in the Boer War (1899-1902).
By 1901, Jessie is listing herself as a widow in the census. I haven’t found Robert’s death certificate, so it’s unclear if she *knew* he was dead or if she’d been left alone for so long that she was just assuming.
I’ve checked ScotlandsPeople for all Robert Allans around his age who died between 1885 and 1901, but he isn’t any of them. All the trees on Ancestry say that he died in 1901, but the only references are to the probate index and the Robert Allans listed there don’t match his details.
Does anyone know what happened to Robert?