National Records of Scotland

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Samuel Rutherford Crockett (1859-1914)

Samuel Rutherford Crockett (1859-1914)

Novelist

Samuel Crockett was raised on his grandfather's Galloway farm. He moved to Edinburgh to study at the university and became interested in journalism and writing. He entered New College as a divinity student and was appointed Free Church of Scotland minister for Penicuik in 1886. During that year his collection of verse, 'Dulce Cor' ('Sweet Heart'), was published. He eventually abandoned the ministry having found overnight success with 'The Stickit Minister' in 1893. It was followed by a rapidly-produced series of popular novels featuring the history of Scotland or his native Galloway. He produced 63 books over 20 years and earned considerable sums of money from his writing. Samuel Rutherford Crockett died suddenly in France and was buried at Balmaghie.

Birth in 1859

Samuel Crocket was born at 5:20 am on 24 September 1859, the son of Anne Crocket, dairymaid. The entry in the statutory register of births for the parish of Balmaghie in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright gives the place of birth as Little Duchrae. No father's name is given and he is described as illegitimate. The informant was Mary Crocket, nurse, who was present at the birth.

Birth entry for Samuel Crockett

Birth entry for Samuel Crocket (57 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1859/857/32

1861-1911 censuses

In 1861 Samuel Crocket, aged 1, was enumerated with his family at Little Duchrae. The census return for the parish of Balmaghie records that his grandfather, William Crocket, was the joint farmer of 108 acres and that his mother Anne was 30, unmarried and a farmer's daughter.

1861 census return for Samuel Crockett

1861 census return for Samuel Crocket (53 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/857/4, page 4

In 1871 Samuel Crocket, aged 11 and a scholar, was enumerated with his family in Cotton Street, Castle Douglas. The census return for the parish of Kelton shows that the household included his grandparents and mother, now aged 42. The household schedule starts on the previous page with his grandfather, a retired farmer.

1871 census return for Samuel Crockett

1871 census return for Samuel Crocket (46 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1871/869/1, page 3

In 1881 Samuel Crockett, 21, Arts student at Edinburgh University (Edin Univ) was enumerated at 50 St Leonards Street, Edinburgh. The census return for the district of Newington describes his relationship to the head of household as lodger. This is the first record where the standard spelling of his surname is used. He added the middle name Rutherford later.

1881 census return for Samuel Crockett

Detail from 1881 census return for Samuel Crocket (58 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/685-5/61, page 4

Samuel Crockett wasn't enumerated in the 1891, 1901 or 1911 censuses. Due to ill health he spent part of the year abroad, returning to Scotland each summer. His wife, Ruth Mary Crockett, is the head of household: in 1891 as clergyman's wife, Free Church Manse, Penicuik; in 1901 as author's wife, Bank House, Penicuik; and in 1911 at Torwood, Peebles.

The entry for their daughter, Ruth, in the statutory register of births for 1888 gives the date and place of their marriage as 10 March 1887, Manchester.

Testament of 1914

The testament testamentar of the late (umquhile) Samuel Rutherford Crockett, novelist, was registered at Peebles Sheriff Court on 22 June 1914. It records that he died at Avignon in France on 16 April 1914.

Detail from page 15 of testament of Samuel Rutherford Crockett

Detail from page 15 of the testament of Samuel Rutherford Crockett (58 KB jpeg)

His estate was valued at £9734, 13 shillings and 2 pence which would be worth in the region of £575,000 today (based on The National Archives' currency converter). The value of his royalities, copyright and other literary property was £1,398. A holograph will, in which he leaves all his possessions to his wife, was confirmed to be in his own hand. Bank House in Penicuik was their home at the time of the 1901 census (see above).

Holograph will of Samuel Rutherford Crockett

Detail from page 14 of the testament of Samuel Rutherford Crockett (69 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC42/20/20, pages 11-16