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Mr Robert Powell

Robert Powell was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, in 1834. He was employed as a waiter at Lamb's Temperance Hotel in Dundee. He pledged a subscription for £5 towards the Albert Institute, together with his fellow employee, John Galloway, a baker there.

Subscription value in 1863:


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Personal details and history

Full name

Robert Powell

Date of birth

circa 1835:[1][2] ??-05-1834:[3]

Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

Helen Ritchie[1] - marriage took place on 10-07-1860 at St Vigeans[1]


Elizabeth: Annie: Helen: Mary: Alexander: Robert: John: Margaret: Isabella (Bella): Charles:

Home address

Reform Street[1]

Constitution Road[2]

Blyth Street[4]

Age at death:

Older than 65 years (an initial indicator while resident in Scotland):[5] 88 years (actual age at time of death while resident in Canada):[6]

Place of death:

East York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada[6]

Date of death:

After 1901 (an initial indicator while resident in Scotland):[5][7] 19-05-1922 (actual date of death while resident in Canada):[6]



Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Established Church - according to forms at time of marriage:[1] Freethinker - according to his own statement at time of taking oath in court:[8]

Political affiliation

Liberal - Robert Powell was named on the list of 'Committee for the return of George Armitstead as MP for Dundee in 1868'[9]

Clubs / societies


Public offices


Related subscribers

Subscriber  135   – Thomas Lamb – employer of Robert Powell and John Galloway

Subscriber 189 (A) – John Galloway – fellow employee at Lamb’s Hotel and co-subscriber of £5


Career and worklife





Place of work

Lamb’s Temperance Hotel and Dining Rooms[10]

Work address

56 Reform Street[10]

Career to date:

Robert Powell, arrived in Dundee prior to 1860 from Alloa. At the time of his marriage in June of 1860,[1] Robert's occupation was declared to be that of a 'waiter.'[1] Subsequent census records confirm that Robert continued in that line of work for the remainder of his working life. It may be assumed that he was satisfied with his station as a waiter, given that he continued to declare that status after retiring[5] and also on emigration.[11]

More information

Robert Powell was born, the first of three children, to Robert Powell, (spelled Powils[12] at the time of his marriage) a weaver, sometime shoemaker and Ann Adamson,[1] in Alloa, Clackmannanshire in 1834.[6] By 1851, with Robert a teenager, his mother had become a widow and was working as a ‘washerwoman’ to support herself, Robert and his younger siblings, Margaret and Adam.[13]

The entire family made their way to Dundee by 1860, when Robert married Helen Ritchie[1] and his mother, Margaret and Adam remained together.[2] Robert and Helen set up home in the City Road area, then called Balgay Street, at Blyth Place. His mother, Ann Adamson, died at Robert’s home in 1871.[14]

Robert Powell’s fifteen minutes of fame came in 1882 when he was dismissed from jury service for declining to take the oath.[8] It was reported in many newspapers. (see image)

It would seem that Robert Powell vanished from Dundee after his listing in the 1901 census.[5][7] The truth of the matter was that he and his wife Helen left these shores to join their youngest daughter, Bella and her husband, James Donald in Toronto – a bold move to make at an age of almost 70. Bella and her husband had made the journey in 1902 and a year later, in May 1903,[11] Robert and Helen Powell left from Glasgow, on board the ‘Corinthian’[11] to live out the rest of their lives in Ontario.

1921 saw the death of Robert’s wife Helen[15] but it also witnessed the arrival in Ontario of Robert’s son John, having emigrated to Canada in 1920.[16]

The following year, Robert Powell, having lived with his youngest daughter for nearly 20 years, died in his adopted country of Canada.



  1. Statutory Registers. St Vigeans. Marriages. (1860). 319/ 6. Scotlandspeople website.
  2. Census Records. Dundee. (1861). 282/1 16/ 25. Scotlandspeople website.
  3. Census Records. Canada. Toronto. (1911). Census Place: 39 - Ward 1, Toronto East, Ontario; Page: 16; Family No: 189. Ancestry website.
  4. Census Records. Dundee. (1871). 282/2 27/ 18. Scotlandspeople website.
  5. Census Records. Dundee. (1901). 282/2 21/A 21. Scotlandspeople website.
  6. Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; (1922). Collection: MS935; Reel: 286. Ancestry website.
  7. Dundee Postal Directory, 1901-02. p.381. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  8. Dundee Courier and Argus. 3rd April 1882. British Newspaper Archive website.
  9. Dundee Courier. 9 June 1868. p.4. Findmypast website.
  10. Dundee Postal Directory, 1861-62. p.163. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  11. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. (1903). Ancestry website.
  12. Old Parish Registers. Alloa. (1834). 465/ 70 385. Scotlandspeople website.
  13. Census Records. Alloa. (1851). 465/ 4/ 62. Scotlandspeople website.
  14. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1871). 282/ 2 537. Scotlandspeople website.
  15. Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Deaths and Deaths Overseas.(1921). MS935. Reel 273. Ancestry website.
  16. Census Records. Toronto. York East. (1921). RG31. Folder No.99. p.21. Ancestry website.

The information above about Robert Powell has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.