Monday 6 February 2017

Muir of Newfoundland

Adjacent to the grave marker of the family of Richard and Ann (Burley or Burleigh) Muir in Greenock Cemetery, is that of Richard's brother Robert Muir and his family.  The gravestone sadly notes that it is "In memory of Robert Muir and Mary Livingston his spouse, who died within 14 days of each other."

Robert Muir (1784 - 1854) and his wife Mary Livingston (1786 - 1854) lived at Muir's Land in Lynedoch Street, Greenock.  A look at the map dated 1842 from the National Library of Scotland site shows Muirs's house to be on the south-west side of Lynedoch Street.  Like his brother, Robert ran a successful shoe and bootmaking business, this was continued by his son William.  

However it is the younger son, Robert Livingston Muir who travelled to Newfoundland.  Born in 1826, Robert seems to have forsaken the shoemaking business and became an apprentice to Cowan & Lawrie, drapers in Greenock.  He was lured overseas like many of his fellow Greenockians to St John's, Newfoundland.  Here he joined Edwin Duder (son of Thomas Duder and Ann Congdon) to form the company of Muir & Duder, merchants and ship owners in St John's.  He married Emily Duder in Greenock on 14 July 1847 and had several children born in Newfoundland.  Unfortunately Emily died aged just 29 in 1856 and is buried at St Marychurch, Torquay, Devon (Kingskerswell would appear to be where the Duder family originated).

The firm was successful and Muir made annual business visits to Greenock and Glasgow and obviously kept in touch with the large Muir family here in Greenock.  In June 1865, Robert Livingston Muir died, aged just 41, as the result of injuries received in a dreadful accident in Newfoundland.  According to his obituary in the Greenock Telegraph -

     "It appears that Mr Muir had been returning from business to his house in the country in a carriage  and while going down a steep hill the horse took fright and became unmanageable.  On nearing      an embankment he thought the animal was making to go over it, when he leapt from the machine.   In doing so he unfortunately broke his leg above the ankle.  He was carried into a house close by, and a friend of his - Mr Grieve, son of Provost Grieve of Greenock - driving up shortly after, got him laid in his machine on the top of a mattress and conveyed home, where medical assistance was called in; but owing to the serious nature of the injuries, he died after lingering for a few days."

A posthumus daughter, Roberta Livingston Muir (1866 - 1944) was born to Muir's second wife, Sarah Peele, daughter of George Peele of London.  They had married on 16 April 1860 at Southwark, London.  Sarah Muir (1834 - 1919) lived to the ripe old age of 85 and is buried at Monkton Combe, Bath.

The gravestones of Greenock Cemetery tell the stories of some remarkable and well travelled Greenockians.  Robert Livingston Muir's cousin was the noted  barrister Sir Richard Muir.  The Greenock born poet, Margaret Peace also lived in Newfoundland for a while.

The grave markers read -
In memory of Robert Muir and Mary Livingston his spouse who died within 1 day of each other the latter 19 March 1854 aged 70 years and the former 1st April 1854 aged 68 years.
Also their daughter Janet McLeod who died 15th June 1869 aged 59 years and Johnina daughter of the above Janet McLeod who died 26 December 1865 aged 17 years.
Robert Mackenzie son in law of the above Robert Muir who died 5th Nov 1879 and Elizabeth Muir or Mackenzie his wife born 16 Oct 1816 died 1st April 1895.

To the memory of Emma Duder the beloved wife of Robert L Muir of St John's Newfoundland who died 19 July 1856 at St Mary-Church near Torquay, Devon in the 29th year of her age.
Also their daughter Emma who died at St John's Newfoundland January 1856 aged 11 months.

Also the above Robert Livingston Muir who died at St John's Newfoundland 6th June 1865 aged 41 years also their son Edwin Duder died 7 July 1870 aged 22 years.


  1. Hi Robert Livingston Muir was my Great grandfather and I am coming up to Greenock and wanted to see the grave. Is it possible to let me know the location as I know from experience how difficult graves can be to find? I could not find it on Many thanks Christine

    1. Hi Christine. The grave can be found in Section O of Greenock Cemetery. If you download the Greenock Cemetery Walk brochure which can be found on the Inverclyde Heritage Network site -
      there's a map inside showing the different sections of the Cemetery. From memory, your relatives' stone is not too far from the path. I hope your trip is successful and if you need any more information please contact me via the form on the left column of this blog (it makes it easier for me to get in touch with you). Liz

    2. Thank you so much Liz, I have the brochure and it all looks amazing. Looking forward to visiting. Best wishes Christine


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