National Records of Scotland

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Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)


Robert Louis Stevenson was born into a family of engineers and lighthouse builders - his grandfather, Robert Stevenson (1772-1850), built the Bell Rock Lighthouse. He studied engineering and law before turning to writing. 'Treasure Island' was serialised in 1882 and in 1886 'Kidnapped' and 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' became international best-sellers. In the face of chronic ill-health he was advised to seek warmer climes. He met Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne in France in 1876, followed her to her native California and they married in 1880. They lived in Switzerland, France, on the south coast of England and in Scotland, while Stevenson sought a place congenial to his health. After the death of his father in 1887, he felt free to travel further afield and having taken his family and his mother over to the USA finally settled in the Samoan island of Upolu in the Pacific. Here he continued to work but was eventually overcome by the constant companion he called 'bluidy Jack' - the spitting of blood caused by his affliction. He was buried on Upolu.

Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the famous Scots commemorated in our Archivists' Garden. The entries on almond and ling (white heather) include quotes from his poems.

Birth in 1850

Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson was born on 13 November 1850, the son of Thomas Stevenson, civil engineer, and Margaret Isabella Balfour. The entry in the Old Parish Register baptisms for Edinburgh is over two pages and gives the family's address as 8 Howard Place, St Cuthbert’s parish.

Baptism entry for Robert Louis Stevenson - first part

Baptism entry for Robert Louis Stevenson - second part

Baptism entry for Robert Louis Stevenson in the OPR for Edinburgh (20 and 33 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/60, pages 175-176

Death in 1894

Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson (known as Robert Louis Stevenson), author, died on 3 December 1894 at Vailima, Apia, Samoan Islands, aged 44. The entry in the statutory Foreign Register of Marriages gives his wife's name as Fanny Matilda van de Grift or Osbourne and the cause of death as apoplexia. His death was registered in Edinburgh on 1 June 1895 by Stair Agnew, Registrar General for Scotland.

Death entry for Robert Louis Stevenson

Death entry for Robert Louis Stevenson in the Foreign Register (48 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1894/161-FN/69 (page 23)

Testament of Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

National Records of Scotland, SC70/1/358 pp 182-189

View transcript (9 KB PDF)

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